TODAY’S Northern Inland Premier League grand final combatants can create history for different reasons at Scully Park in Tamworth.
While Oxley Vale Attunga has played in the past four grand finals, winning three of them, it is a first for Tamworth FC, which was only formed in 2008.
It is also the first all-Tamworth grand final since Hillvue Rovers beat North Companions in 1999.
TFC has only played in one grand final and that was last year’s second grade decider, which ended in extra time defeat.
Today is a massive day for the club and its players in its first top grade decider.
“They’re all keen,” coach Wayne May said. “They’re jumping out of their skins really.
“We’re looking forward to it.
“We’ve trained well this week.
“It’s been low-key; we’ve just worked on the things we want to take onto the field.”
The sky blue side beat OVA last time the sides met, 3-1, and won’t be changing the plan that worked that day.
“They’ll know how we’re going to play,” May said.
“It will be virtually the same.
“And we’ve got roughly the same side on the park too.”
May has named 12 players from which he will select his starting 11.
Scott May returns from injury and could start while Matt Gardner is also in the mix.
Up front TFC will look to former OVA player Chris Soto and Caleb Richardson to find the back of the net.
“Caleb and Soto, if they click they will put plenty of pressure on the OVA backs,” May said.
“In saying that we have to keep an eye on (Luke) Purcell and Mitch O’Keefe.
“Keefey won the golden boot so he’s scored a heap of goals this year.
“He’s a danger man that needs watching.
“He rarely misses in front of goal when he gets an opportunity.”
OVA has a great record in recent years, but the 11 players that start today’s game will be very different from the one that beat Demon Knights last year.
“I only realised the other day how different the team is from last year,” coach Sam Higgins said.
“The side changes all the time but we’re right up there in both grades every year.
“The guys coming through are quality as well.”
Glenn McKnight comes back into the team while Lachlan Browne is battling an ankle injury and will sit on the bench.
The Mushies will look to leading scorer and captain Mitch O’Keefe and Luke Purcell to score the goals, just as they have done all season.
“At the start of the year I thought Luke Purcell and Mitch O’Keefe could score a 1000 goals this season,” Higgins said.
“They’re real danger men.
“They’re fast, they’re strong, they have all the attributes and they can finish.
“They’re ones to watch.”
Higgins said he had a pretty good idea what Tamworth would throw at his side.
There has been little between them this season.
“We’ve beaten each other once this year,” Higgins said.
“I’m pretty confident I know how they’ll line up.
“I’m sure they’ll try something a little different, but you don’t want to change too much going into a game like this.
“They try and just control the game and strangle us out of it.
“But we’ll try and hit them hard and fast and put a few in early.”
It’s a big day for OVA with the Mushies reserves also in the grand final.
They take on South Armidale in that game from 12.30pm.
“It should be interesting after we knocked off their first grade last week,” Higgins said.
“They’ll want some revenge, I’d say.
“Our reserve grade has come a long way this year.
“There was a time when I couldn’t see us getting both grades there so it’s a pretty big achievement.”