NO matter the weather this Sunday, the extended Seccombe and Rigoni clan will gather on the sideline at Advocate Park for the biggest rugby league local derby in years between Coffs Harbour and Sawtell.
Young Comet Cody Seccombe is building a formidable reputation in the second row at the club where his father Dean and Uncle Paul, won a first-grade premiership in 1985.
And grandfather Matt Rigoni also won premierships during the 'Banana Bender' era before switching to the Panthers where he played in the top-grade side over four seasons from 1970.
After watching three generations in action, Cody's mother Lisa is now an experienced 'footy mum'.
“Dad played for years but had to retire when he badly broke his collar bone and being a self-employed banana grower, couldn't afford to play anymore,” she said.
“Back then, no money was paid to play and dad still talks of how he used to stick magazines down his socks to protect his shins and the ugly white shorts that had foam padding in pockets at the sides.
“When he played for Coffs the team manager was Dean's grandfather, Allan 'Pop' Shepherd and while he passed away many years ago, I believe he even had a turn as a referee.”
Switching to Orara Valley, Dean won a title under Michael Wicks in 1994 and despite living in Grafton, commuting for football continued.
“Dean travelled back for training every week, and then on Sundays we'd pack up for the game,” Lisa revealed.
“Not because we had to but because we enjoyed it and I look back now and wonder how with four kids under six, we managed it.
“Eventually, Dean took up an offer from Grafton Ghosts and played for a couple of years before injuring his second cruciate ligament.
“The knees weren't coping well, so with the kids starting sport, he decided to retire.”
Soon after, the family returned to Coffs Harbour, Cody began playing with the Comets and at the age of 18, continued a family tradition by being selected in first grade.
“Cody often gets out Dean's VHS tapes and watches them,” Lisa said.
“We laugh at how things have changed, especially at one finals game in Kempsey where there was a bit of biff and Dean just happened to be in it and had some blood on his face.
“The water boy came running onto the field with the old cordial bottle and a sponge to wipe his face and everybody had a go at the sponge – blood, sweat and all.
“We can see why the old timers say it's not like the old days.”
Lisa added there was a great feeling of pride when Cody donned the red and gold retro Comets jumper in the historic Centenary clash with Bellingen at BCU International Stadium on May 28.
“It was special to see him wear the jersey with the banana logo,” she said.
“Dad wore it as a young man and Dean when he was in juniors and now the baton has been passed along.”