TAMWORTH FC was Northern Inland Football Premier League Southern Conference minor premier this season but hasn’t beaten Oxley Vale Attunga.
A first round 1-all draw under lights was followed by a 3-1 loss to the Mushies in the second round.
FC can right that record today by beating the Mushies in the PL grand final and win back-to-back titles.
Last year they stunned the Mushies to win their first PL first grade premiership on Johnnson Field at Gipps Street and today they have the chance to beat the Mushies at Ken Chillingworth Oval.
FC trained there Thursday night to “get a feel and see how the ball rolls” on the unfamiliar rugby field, coach Wayne May said.
“We’re looking forward to playing down there,” he said.
“They (Pirates) have a good set-up down there.
“And the ground will be good for the game.
“The crowd will be right on top of the players.”
The corporate boxes are also a bonus too for the two clubs, OVa coach Lachlan Browne said.
“It’s got a good feel to it,” Browne said of a ground where his side won 4-1 against Inverell’s Joeys FC last Saturday.
“It’s got a good atmosphere, a good little compact ground.
“The corporate boxes are good for both sides too for all our sponsors.”
The Mushies enter the grand final searching for a fourth PL title in seven years.
They also have the luxury of starting last year’s top goalscorer – Mitch O’Keefe – from the bench.
“Yeah, it’s pretty handy having the golden boot coming off the bench,” Browne said.
“Mitch moved to Brisbane halfway through the year.
“He was going to uni up there and driving back for games.
“He’s only played two or three games in the second round for us but did start against FC (3-1 win).
“He’s playing Futsal twice a week up there so he’s pretty sharp, maybe a bit fitter than he was down here.”
Tamworth FC’s Chris Soto has also been travelling home to play for FC, May said.
“Sooty’s been working in Sydney,” he said.
“He’s done a fair bot of travelling but it hasn’t affected him.”
Soto has been scoring regularly and was one of the scorers in the 3-nil win over North Armidale in last Saturday’s semi-final at Scully Park.
“We played well,” May said.
“We played good controlled football.”
Fitting Damien Puyenbroek and Tim Smith back into the starting lineup will be a tough task for May, Darryl Smith and Darren MacKenzie.
The fact North Companions beat FC’s second grade side in last week’s semi shows the strength of the PL might have shifted from Armidale to Tamworth.
“We beat the Mushies in the grand final last year too,” May said.
“Maybe the strength has shifted. Tamworth clubs have three of the four sides in the grand finals.”
Having the grand finals in Tamworth again this year is good for the local clubs, he said.