South Grafton Rebels call the town to arms
IN 1972, brothers Terry and Kevin "Stumpy" Stevens combined in the halves to take South Grafton to premiership glory.
The side moulded by the legendary Viv Hodge was widely considered to be the greatest Rebels have ever assembled.
It's a weighty history and one that lies heavily on the shoulders of current player Grant Stevens.
"Stumpy" has inherited his father's nickname, toughness and now an opportunity to stand alongside him as a true champion for South Grafton.
Stevens will wear No.12 for South Grafton in the Group 2 Rugby League first grade grand final against Coffs Harbour Comets at McKittrick Park on Sunday.
"I can't wait," Stevens said.
"This is probably the biggest game of my life to tell you the truth.
"My old man won a grand final with the Rebels and hopefully I can do the same on Sunday."
After the '72 grand final, the Stevens brothers went on to enjoy NSWRFL careers.
Kevin was part of Sydney Roosters' 38-0 thumping of St George Dragons in the 1975 grand final.
That same year, back on the southern banks of the Clarence River, a grand final was staged at McKittrick Park for the last time in 40 years.
Grant Stevens tasted success for Grafton Ghosts. But when he returned to his ancestral roots as captain-coach in 2013, his season was cut short just 30 minutes into round one with a knee injury. It added to a difficult year for the club. But just two years later the Rebels are lining up for a premiership.
"It's been a long time between drinks for the club, for the community and for the players who have been around the club for so many years," Grant Stevens said.
"To see the 100 years nearly get washed away, and then Ray (Taunton) and Johnny (Matthews) put their hand up to try and get the club back on track.
"I suppose we're repaying Ray and Johnny and the old players who wore the red and white before."
While the Rebels haven't tasted success since 1975, there is plenty of grand final experience within the squad.
Like Stevens, Rebels captain Rhys Walters was part of the glory years of 2010 and 2011 with Grafton Ghosts.
"I've been lucky enough to play in five," Walters said. "But a lot of other people have played their whole career and never played a grand final. My advice is just soak in the atmosphere and the crowd.
"Driving around town and seeing everyone's painted the town red and white is unreal.
"It's good for the town."
The Daily Examiner will be live tweeting Sunday's First Grade Grand Final from 2:30pm on Twitter. Follow @daily_examiner for all of the live action or watch the website for the live coverage story.