By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WHAT was once a venture started to develop junior hockey talent has now turned full circle at the Southside Redbacks as they prepare for another B Grade grand final this afternoon.
Club stalwart Kel Wilton has seen all the junior talent at the club turn into a crack outfit of young players who could now play without the help of their fathers who've been part of the team with them during the last three seasons when the Redbacks have won the title each time.
"These boys have played rep hockey through the age groups together and they've just got better and better and left us old fellas behind basically," Wilton said.
"Originally when they were 14, they were a bit overawed but they tend to take over now.
"The young guys are a key for the grand final with their fitness, especially at the back end of games."
This proved true two weeks ago in the major semi-final when the Redbacks blitzed this afternoon's opponent Sawtell Cougars in the second half.
The young Southside players turned a tense 2-all scoreline at half time into a comfortable victory which gave them outright favourtism to take this year's title.
Sawtell refuse to accept that they're merely making up the numbers in today's grand final though.
Cougar's centre forward Anthony Calder admits that his team are the underdogs but believes that if things go their way early, an upset is on the cards.
"We know it's hard playing against these guys but we got out there last weekend and got into it straight away and got up 2-0 pretty quick," Calder explained.
"That's what we're hoping for, we need a quick few goals and then hope to hold them out.
"I know it's easier said than done but I think our coach has changed a few positions around to try something different against these guys."