By WAYNE EDWARDS
COFFS Southside travelled to Grafton last Saturday night to take on Minor Premiers and competition favourites Grafton City Bears in the 2007 Grand Final.
After a disappointing loss to Grafton Sailors in the 2006 Grand Final, the Coffs Harbour based team was keen to erase the memories and bring back the premiership trophy to Coffs Harbour.
Long term Coffs Veteran Gary Herbert tells me that it was back in 1973 that the last Coffs Harbour Men's team was victorious in the Grafton Men's A Grade competition.
To make the win more special, Coffs Southside do not draw on any of the other Coffs Harbour clubs for players in the competition, rather have built a solid club foundation over the past 10 years which has provided the opportunity for Junior boys to come through the ranks from Minkey and progress through to the higher level of Men's A Grade both in Coffs Harbour and now Grafton.
The game was played in wet conditions which made it difficult for the players to shine.
City Bears dominated from the start with tight defence from David Kelly and Brendan Pursey making it difficult for Southside's key striker Kurt Morris to impress.
City Bears Mark Pollack was dangerous and had plenty of opportunities.
If the game was decided on the awarding of short corners City Bears would have won 3 games.
The 22 short corners versus Southside two would have normally been the deciding factor but City Bears failed to capitalise on this.
The Southside defence of Chris Shipman was outstanding and with Ryan Akers playing his best game as goal keeper in the season, City Bears were foiled time and time again.
In the end, the full time score was locked at 0-all and extra time beckoned.
Both team had their chances in extra time.
The Southside combination of Reece Edwards and Kurt Morris looked to step up a cog and were repelled by a desperate David Kelly in the backs.
The score was still deadlocked at 0-all after extra time and like the Major Semi Final two weeks previously the game would be decided by penalty strokes.
A miss by David Dart for City Bears opened the door a little for Southside.
Captain Dean Herbert, Kurt Morris and James Bellamy scored and with Mark Pollcock for City Bears missing at number three, Southside lead 3-1 with two players to go.
The scores were levelled at 3-all when Southside's Reece Edwards stepped up to take the stroke to win the Grand Final.
Like the Major Semi Final he was able to convert and the Premiership was headed south to Coffs Harbour for the first time in 34 years.
Congratulations to Mark Bellamy and Simon Shipman for running the team and the entire squad.
The win capped off a remarkable year for Southside with wins in the Coffs Harbour and also Grafton Men's A Grade hockey competitions.
It will be hard to top in 2008.