By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THERE may be a little bit of young talent running around in the Orara Valley reserve grade team this year but the old boys in the team are the ones who are probably enjoying their footy the most.
For players like captain-coach Matt Bye, his brother Nathan, Aaron Gill, Rod Evans, Brendan Moran and John Munday, winning the reserve grade minor premiership is all the sweeter for knowing that this finals series will be the last time that the long-time group of mates will run on to the paddock together.
The old boys are also happy that the reward for the minor premiership was a weekend off last week.
"We needed it, we had a few blokes injured, a few of the old fellas. I think it just helps you," Bye said.
"I needed it, I know that."
While most of the accolades have gone to Orara's first grade side all season and their bid to win the Clayton's Cup, it is the strong performances of the 'reggies' that helped the club wrap up its first club championship trophy ever.
And the coach confesses that nothing creates a good atmosphere around a footy club like winning.
"It's been pretty good this year, I suppose it's gone pretty quick," he said.
"It's been pretty easy but I suppose it is easy when you're winning.
"Brad (Hart) hasn't had to drag too many of my blokes so it hasn't been too hard a year."
This week the Axemen's reserve grade team play a Sawtell team who were very close to finishing on top of the table themselves.
The Panthers will be full of confidence after easily dismantling the Gimbisi Warriors last week to tune of a 50-16 drubbing.
"They're the side to beat definitely," Bye warned.
"There hasn't been anything between us and them all year, if anything they might have a bit on us.
"It'll be a close game."
Getting together yesterday, both the Bye brothers and Aaron Gill admitted that win, lose or draw this year, it will definitely be their last but they would dearly love one last premiership for personal reasons.
"Winning would be special, especially playing with my brother and Johnny (Munday) as we played in '97 together in first grade, Aaron (Gill) and I have been playing together since under 10s," the coach said.
"There's all the old fellas like 'Rocket' (Rod Evans), Brendan Moran and all us blokes, we've played 10 years together.
"It's just been a fun year and we've been going well along the way."