A month of heartbreak and heroics in the Clarence Valley

Chris Owner reflects on his opportunity to chop in the 150th Anniversary of the Grafton Show.
Chris Owner reflects on his opportunity to chop in the 150th Anniversary of the Grafton Show. Adam Hourigan

APRIL FOOLED: Livermore involved in roster swap

HOCKEY: In the shock of the century, Olympic hero Brent Livermore was touted as a premiership winning signing for Clocktower Hotel Royals in 2016.

The Labrador Tigerstix coach was set for a return to the Clarence Valley Regional Hockey Complex - sure to be a cult hero to the fans on the hill - after being involved in a roster swap with emergent hockey star Sam Young.

A 2004 Olympic gold medallist, Grafton player manager Geoff Tomas was proud to announce the signing to the Grafton community.

Golden Helmut caps Kleins medal haul

SWIMMING: Helmut and Jan Klein were once again among the medals as a team of Clarence River Masters Swim Club members tackled the Queensland State Championships at Miami.

Helmut surely had a sore neck on the drive home after the champion swimmer won gold in four events - 400m, 200m, 100m and 50m breaststroke - while also clinching silver in 400m, 200m and 100m backstroke and bronze in 50m backstroke.

Wife Jan brought home a bronze medal with a personal best swim in the 200m freestyle. She also finished fourth in 1500m, 400m and 50m freestyle.

Future of local league in doubt

RUGBY LEAGUE: Grafton Ghosts' president Joe Kinnane called into question the future of local league as Coffs Harbour suggested they would pull out from the 2016 Under 18s season.

The Comets had forfeited their Round 1 match with the Grafton club due to insufficient numbers and it had left Kinnane's men in a tough spot.

In a show of mutual respect South Grafton Rebels, who were out on the bye, offered to play the Ghosts Under 18s in a friendly trial match as the Round 1 curtain raiser at Frank McGuren Field.

Rebels ready to put disrupted pre-season in the rearview

RUGBY LEAGUE: The South Grafton Rebels were ready to forget a tough pre-season as they set their sights on a premiership defence.

The loss of Ant Cowan and Mal Webster Jnr to the Orara Valley Axemen was a tough blow for the Rebels. But captain Rhys Walters believed the young side including Kieren Stewart, Nick McGrady and fullback Jade Duroux would provide the team with plenty of attacking opportunities.

When the Rebels finally got on field they were ready to defend the fortress McKittrick Park, with another new look halves combination of former CQ Capras halfback Theeran Pearson and experienced Hughie Stanley.

Ghosts firing after strong pre-season

RUGBY LEAGUE: What a difference a year makes. Heading into the 2015 Group 2 Premier League season the Ghosts were stranded for numbers after the departure of a large contingent of their 2014 Grand Final winning side.

This time around captain/ coach Ben McLennan has a new headache but it's one he won't be reaching for the Advil on.

The Ghosts almost had too many men with several fighting it out for positions during pre-season trainings.

EXPOSED: Referee stocks in dire straits

RUGBY LEAGUE: Group 2 referee stocks were at such a critical level that it led to a canned clash in Round 1.

The clash between Orara Valley Axemen and Sawtell Panthers was moved to a Saturday timeslot in an effort to spread referee stocks further.

According to Group 2 Referees Association secretary John Cullen, first grade games were not meant to be affected by the lack of numbers.

Russ on the hunt for Masters gold

HOCKEY: Michael Russ had the most important day in his hockey career in April as the experienced midfielder lined up in the gold medal contest at the Masters World Cup.

The Village Green City Bears A-Grade captain lined up for the Australian Over-50s side against England in what was a replay from two years previous.

A clearly stronger England out-muscled and out-lasted Australia 3-1 in the gold medal clash but it took none of the shine off Russ' result.

 

Australian Over 50s representative Michael Russ is back in the Clarence with a new bit of silverware. Photo Matthew Elkerton / Daily Examiner
Australian Over 50s representative Michael Russ is back in the Clarence with a new bit of silverware. Photo Matthew Elkerton / Daily Examiner Matthew Elkerton

Magpies club send out SOS call

RUGBY LEAGUE: Player numbers hit a crisis point at the Lower Clarence Magpies with the club not likely to take the field in any grade this season.

Only one year after the club's centenary celebrations, officials held crisis talks about a lack of senior players committing.

"It is really disappointing," club president Darrin Heron said. "But these people aren't kids any more. They are grown men and they can make their own minds up."

HEARTBREAK: Magpies call quits on 2016

Lower Clarence Magpies preisdent Darrin Heron talks to players at training.
Lower Clarence Magpies preisdent Darrin Heron talks to players at training. Adam Hourigan

RUGBY LEAGUE: It was a tumultuous pre-season for the Magpies, which culminated in their final training session and remorseful decision.

The crisis button had been pushed and the club had put out the call for at least 20 players to show up, but when only 13 senior players trained at Yamba Sporting Complex it was apparent to the committee that the time had come to make the heartbreaking call.

Players and trainers from Lower Clarence Magpies shake hands after they announced they would drop out of first grade this season.
Players and trainers from Lower Clarence Magpies shake hands after they announced they would drop out of first grade this season. Adam Hourigan

Lower Clarence grand finalist and 13-season veteran D.J. Eamens stood amongst his team mates to thank the committee and his peers.

In an effort to keep the Magpies name playing on NRRRL fields, Heron struck a deal with Tweed Coast Raiders for the Under 18s to head north to Cabarita for home games.

 

Billy best in show but Lenton in the spotlight

CRICKET: Brothers' keeper Billy Kerr was judged CRCA Premier League player of the season after hitting 444 runs at an average of 40.36.

It was a real coming-of-age season for Kerr who turned his statistics around from his first season in the CRCA the year before, including almost quadrupling his batting average from 15.11 in 2014/15.

But while Kerr soaked up the limelight it was another pair of glovemen who stole the show as special guest, fringe NSW keeper, Jay Lenton and presentation MC Derek Woods revealed all in a telling and passionate interview.

Bragging right for Rebels after first Battle for the River

 

Brothers and housemates  Kieran and Cameron Stewart will play against each other in this Sunday's South Grafton vs  Grafton local derby at McKittrick Park
Brothers and housemates Kieran and Cameron Stewart will play against each other in this Sunday's South Grafton vs Grafton local derby at McKittrick Park Adam Hourigan

RUGBY LEAGUE: South Grafton Rebels' winger Jade Duroux had a derby day to remember with the pint-sized winger crossing the try line twice and producing an almost perfect day with the boot.

Duroux's 18 personal points helped steer the Rebels to a resounding win 28-14 over their cross-town rivals.

It was a red and white-wash in the Battle for the River with the home side winning all three grades at McKittrick Park.



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