The Narooma Lions have been selected to host the 2018 Sapphire Coast AFL (SCAFL) Grand Final, beating out interest from both Merimbula and Pambula.
The SCAFL’s decision will not only bring in football fans from all over the South Coast, but could also lend a big hand in helping the Lions break a long premiership drought.
Narooma Lions president Harold Mackie said the club found out on Thursday, and is already in planning mode.
“It’s only the second time we’ve held a grand final in my 20-odd years at the club, so it means a hell of a lot, especially with our push for improved facilities at the moment,” he said. “There’s a real buzz around the club.
“We’ve already started planning. There’s a couple of conditions the league have put in place: we need adequate facilities for umpires, and we need a stage for presentations.”
Mr Mackie said the club held interest in hosting the grand final before the season started.
“Right at the start of the year, even before we knew the position our senior team would be in, we expressed our interest,” he said. “It was only two-or-three weeks ago that we had to kick off the official proccess.”
Jarrod Moore, SCAFL’s football operations coordinator, said there was a fair bit of interest in hosting the event.
“It’s a pretty big day on the calendar, and we went with Narooma this year because of their game-day environment, and the way they’ve run their game-days throughout the year,” he said.
“Based on how successful their finals have been over the past couple of years, we thought they were deserving of the grand final in 2018.”
The Lions are the form team of the competition this year, but Moore said this had nothing to do with the decision.
“Last year they were the form side as well, and we went with Pambula,” he said. “Form has nothing to do with it, we just feel the work and effort they’ve put in has shown they can hold a grand final.
“They’ve got all the facilities necessary to hold the event.”
Moore said there may be some disgruntled clubs, but didn’t expect any official complaints about the decision.
“Every year we try and announced our decision as far out as possible to avoid any kind of controversy,” he said. “There’s always going to be a couple of clubs that may not be happy with here it’s being held, but we just base it purely on who’s best to host it that year.”
Moore said he’s looking forward to the biggest day on the SCAFL calendar, and encourage fans to get there early to make sure of a parking spot.
“Last year there were a couple of big upsets across the grades, and we all know anything can happen on grand final day,” he said.
“All the grades are shaping up as being ultra competitive, so it should be a great day of footy.”
And even though the Lions haven’t sewn up a grand final berth, Mr Mackie can’t help dreaming of a drought-breaking premiership at home.
“I’ve been with the club since 1994, and I haven’t seen a senior premiership flag in all that time, so there will be a lot of emotion on the day if that happens,” he said.