Gunnedah FC will field sides in both first and reserve grade Tamworth District Football grand finals on Saturday but the sides’ journeys to the finals have been completely different.
The minor premiership-winning first grade side did it the easy way following a 4-1 win in the major semi-final while the reserve grade outfit were thumped 6-0 in the major semi before turning its form around to beat Kootingal 1-0 in the preliminary final.
First grade will clash with Souths United while reserve grade will take on Oxley Vale Attunga.
Despite the differing paths to the grand final, coach Andy Cygan said come Saturday the two sides will be looking to play very similarly.
“Both grades just need to be switched on and give their opponent nothing,” coach Andy Cygan said.
“It will be fast and furious and I hope there will be plenty for the fans to see.”
Alexzanna Budge (ACL) and Zac Crowhurst – who’ll be touring Australia for the next few weeks – will be the only players missing from the squads but there’s no doubt they’d line up if it were possible.
Big plusses are the inclusions of Hugh Jennings and Reegan Walker.
Walker will travel back from Taree – where he has just moved – while Jennings will race against the clock to get as much game time in as possible.
“Hugh Jennings has been a standout in first grade this year and has a family function in Sydney on Saturday night,” Cygan said.
“He has committed to playing into the second half before being rushed to Tamworth Airport for the 5pm flight before the game has finished.”
Cygan said while his first grade team is a slight favourite heading into its clash, he won’t be taking anything for granted this weekend.
He said Souths captain Brett Curran would be a player FC would have to keep an eye on.
“They [Gunnedah FC] will need to be solid at the back and not give Souths a chance,” Cygan said.
“They will need to nullify the threat from the Souths’ captain [Curran] who scored a 40-yard screamer at the weekend to beat Quirindi 1-0.”Reserve grade captain Nathan McDonald said his side has “learnt a lot” from playing OVA this year.
One of those things learnt for McDonald is where his side will need to tighten up come grand final day.
“They seem to score a lot of goals on quick breakaways, from our mistakes,” McDonald said.
“That’s where they tend to get us. We just need to not make those mistakes and not let them dictate.”
The captain said the two sides were polar opposites in terms of experience.
“They are a very good side OVA. They’ve been playing together a few years and have a lot of older boys in their side,” McDonald said.
“We’re still a young side and a lot of our young players are still learning.”
McDonald praised the female players and young players in the side who have all played key roles this season and will do so again in the grand final.
Both sides play at the Gipps Street Fields in Tamworth with reserve grade starting at 12.30pm while first grade starts at 3pm.