A LOCAL derby with some extra spice is on the menu for the Northern Inland Premier League (NIPL) as Tamworth FC and Oxley Vale Attunga clash again in the grand final at Ken Chillingworth Oval on Saturday.
“There is a fair bit of inter-club rivalry and politics between these sides which always makes for a good game and a bit of heat,” NIPL executive officer Dino Perizzolo said.
The Mushrooms are no strangers to the grand final, having featured in the previous five fixtures, winning three of them.
It was Tamworth FC who upset the Mushies last year when they won a first premiership, controversially 2-1.
“There has been a couple of players changing in between the two clubs in the past few years,” Perizzolo said.
“That always adds to a rivalry, especially with both sides playing out of Tamworth.”
The two players he is referring to are Sky Blues forwards Chris Soto and Ben Davis, both of whom scored good goals last week against North Armidale to secure a second grand final appearance.
Brothers in law Soto and Davis moved from OVA to Tamworth two years ago and have won premierships with both sides.
Former Mushies coach Davis was ousted from the position after leading the side to three premierships in four years, before completely leaving the club he spent 14 years playing for.
“There was much too much politics over there and there still is some bad blood,” Davis said.
The striker missed last year’s premiership win due to injury.
“I was hoping this day would come around,” he said.
“It was good last year but it will be all the more sweeter when I am on the field.”
Davis said the Mushies had played the same way for the past seven years and he knows that game very well.
“They play straight up the middle and counter-attack very quickly end to end.”
“We need to cut that ball out. Our defence speaks for itself – it is the best in the league.”
“They have some dangerous players like Luke Purcell, Benn Genardini and Brendan Fergie but we have been working hard and will beat anyone on our day.”
Purcell hit a hat-trick last week at the same ground against South Armidale and will be hoping to add to his finals tally.
Both sides play a similar game, a very quick game which will make for a great spectacle.
“The better team will win on the day and we are shaping up well,” Davis said.
Reserve grade is also shaping up to be a good game, with North Companions taking on North Armidale after both sides finished third in their respective conferences and made it to the finals the hard way.
Companions even beat an undefeated Tamworth FC in the preliminary final last week to get the chance.
Reserve grade will kick off at 12.30, with the top grade to follow at 3pm.
Voting is now open for the NIPL All Stars team now that all clubs have nominated players.
Teams will consist of one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards, with only one vote allowed from each IP address.
Voting will close on Friday September 20, with the team to be announced at the annual awards night on September 28.
All club members, players, officials, and coaching staff are urged to participate.
To vote, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013_NIPL_All_Stars