SAWTELL fans have been asked to converge on Rex Hardaker Oval tomorrow to pay homage to favourite son Damian Irvine.
Last week, Irvine played his 200th first grade game for Sawtell but the club didn’t celebrate the milestone as the match was played at Port Macquarie.
Tomorrow is a different story and club president Mark Maynard said everyone should get to the footy to show their appreciation for one of the club’s greats.
“We’ve been checking our records and we believe that ‘Damo’ is the only player in the club to play that many first grade games,” Maynard said.
As far as 201st games go, Irvine couldn’t have picked a better encounter than a grand final replay against Macksville – a team the Panthers have endured some epic battles with during the past decade.
Sawtell coach Rohan Loudon admits losing to Port Macquarie last week in Irvine’s 200th game was a let down but he says that the squad is determined to turn that result around tomorrow.
“It was disappointing last week for him but hopefully it turns out to be a good 201st this week,” Loudon said.
Sawtell are in the middle of a stretch where they play the top three teams in the Group in successive weeks.
Loudon admits last week’s loss against the competition-leading Port Macquarie puts a little bit of pressure on his team to perform this week.
“We looked to trying to win two out of those three so we have to win our next two,” he said.
“We play Macksville on Sunday and we played them in the grand final so it’s going to be a huge game this week.”
Loudon admits though that the game against the Sharks will hold them in good stead.
“I thought last week’s game was like a semi-final, it was the fastest game that we played all year,” he said. “At least we’ve had that under our belt so we should be up for it.”
Being a grand final replay, it’s easy to assume Macksville will be all fired up, seeking redemption for the heart-breaking 21-20 loss in last year’s title decider.
Sea Eagles captain Grant Coleman says that theory couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“It certainly hasn’t been mentioned at this stage,” he said.
“We’re too busy just trying to click and get the combinations right at this point.
“The boys are revved up but we’re building up to a point.”