Ghosts' title bid relies on locals
THESE are the faces that epitomise the Grafton Ghosts’ ethos.
The Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League club has strengthened its ties to the past by signing a near all-local side for the 2010 campaign.
The club’s likely 17-man top squad contains just two foreign troops – Englishmen Thomas Burnell and Dave Emmott.
And with former juniors Donny Dickson and Anthony Don returning to the Ghosts’ haunt, the club will have an even more home-grown feel when they step on to the field next month.
The duo join locals such as Aaron Hartmann, Daniel Lolback and Khan Williams as born and bred Grafton talent.
Despite the off-season controversies surrounding player recruitment, Ghosts boss Col Speed says his club continues to foster talent from within.
“I’m delighted to have these two blokes back on board,” he said.
“We have got two Poms but everyone else is a junior.
“The club prides itself on having so many juniors. The tradition continues with the blokes who are playing through to A-grade.”
During Don’s four years away from Grafton, spent completing his university degree in Physical Education in Newcastle, the 22-year-old impressed good judges when making the Australian University side to tour South Africa last year.
The highlights included a thumping of the hosts’ national side.
But the lure of stepping on to Frank McGuren Field proved even more appealing.
“I was always moving back here,” said Don, who played in Ghosts colours from under-13s to 18s.
“I played one or two games last year when I was on university holidays and I reckon we have got pretty high expectations for this season.
“I would have considered other clubs but I always wanted to come back here.”
Dickson is a much different story.
After ‘going off the rails’ during a colourful career in Sydney with St George and the Bulldogs, the 27-year-old spent 2009 playing for Brisbane Easts.
And he is determined to teach the younger brigade of Ghosts the pressures that come with league life in the big smoke.
He had a brief return to the club in 2006 but is confident this time around will be more successful.
“I think the big thing is there should be more kids that play country football before they go down to the city,” the five-eighth said.
“It’s a good option for myself to give something back.”
The decision to return to the Ghosts was a logical one.
His father Tony was a member of the club’s 1977 grand final side. Fellow top grade Ghost Carson Galloway’s father Nick was also a member of that lineup.
And Dickson is hoping the 2010 squad can go one better.
“The side has done pretty well over the last couple of years,” he said.
“It’s only a young side we have got that can win the competition.”
The season kicks off next month.
- Anthony Don
- Aaron Hartmann
- Mitchell Wicks
- Ryan Farrell
- Nat Sewell
- Donny Dickson
- Daniel Roberts
- Aaron Taylor
- Ben McLennan
- Rhys Walters
- Carson Galloway
- Daniel Lolback
- Jamie Want
- Khan Williams