Top 10 sporting moments of 2011
THIS year provided plenty of memorable and not so memorable sporting moments in the Clarence Valley.
From the Grafton Ghosts winning back-to-back titles to the fun police banning under-18s from Grafton Cup day in July.
The Examiner sports team rates their most talked about moments of 2011.
10. Boys outshine girls to win state squash title
Cody Rediger, Nick Harris, Dane Bartholomew and Ryan Gorton handed Grafton High a state title carrying on a strong squash tradition at the school.
Even a late withdrawal couldn't stop the team from taking the top honours defeating Tuggerah Lakes College in the decider.
The GHS girl's team were chasing their sixth title in a row but fell short going down to a strong Bega High School in the final.
9. Future stars take to the net
The Clarence Valley keeps producing outstanding tennis players. Grafton High School finished second in the NSW CHS Championships with Grafton Public School taking out the NSW PSSA crown.
Brittany Huxley continued to win tournaments and was rewarded with selection to represent Australia at the Oceanic Championships in Fiji.
The Grafton Public School team of Georgia Allen, Kaitlin Pardoe, Tianna McGarvie, Eli Fahey, Izaliah Gilbert and Josh Crispin blazed their way to the final by winning six consecutive rounds.
Allen, McGarvie and Fahey have also been selected to represent NSW Country in the 2012 Medibank Challenge.
8. Carnival capers on racing's biggest day
It brought roars of disapproval from the younger brigade and divided the community when the CRJC decided to ban under-18's from Grafton Cup day.
For the first time in living memory under-18 race-goers were given the flick on arguably Grafton's premier race event of the year.
According to CRJC chief executive Bradley de Martino Rosaroll controlling and adhering to the licensing agreements as well as responsible service of alcohol is hard to manage on Cup day.
For those teenagers who wished to experience the thrill of racing in July they were permitted to attend all other meetings during the carnival.
7. Pilley brothers take sport to the extreme
One is well known for his exploits on the squash court, the other competes in the gruelling sport of 24-hour Solo mountain biking.
While Cameron was competing against the best squash players in the world his younger brother Morgan was doing the same on two wheels.
Morgan was recently crowned the 2011 Italian 24-hour Series mountain bike champion which has been a long time goal of his.
But probably the most talked about topic concerning the two elite sportsman was Morgan taking a 280kmh squash ball smashed into his back from Cameron who holds the world record for the hardest hitter of a squash ball.
6. Coach exits before a ball is kicked
It was not the best start to a rugby league season. Losing your coach on the eve of your first NRRRL game of the season.
But for the Grafton Rhinos the sudden departure of Shaun Fathers left the club in disarray.
After being given the flick by former NRL halfback Jason Ferris earlier, the Rhinos signed Fathers for the first grade coaching role but once again were left in the lurch.
The Rhinos did however regroup to make the semi-finals under care-taker coach Shane Osborne.
5. Against all odds. League side ever so close
South Grafton High under-14 side almost did the impossible in winning the state-wide Buckley Shield competition. After disposing of a crack Chifley College in the semi-final the South High team fell at the final hurdle going down to a much bigger Central Coast team in the decider.
The Buckley Shield is the pinnacle of under-14 rugby league in NSW and is usually dominated by specialist sports high schools.
Led superbly by Ethan Roberts South High produced wonderful attacking football to advance to the final doing their school proud.
4. Pipe dream to reality for home grown netballer
Verity Simmons achieved one of her biggest goals, to play in the Australian and New Zealand Netball League. Simmons has made the big time after being selected in the West Coast Fever Squad under former National coach Norma Plummer. And to top off a remarkable year the talented centre-court player has been selected to represent Australia in the Fastnet World Netball series in England.
Described by Plummer as a pocket-dynamo Simmons has the chance to showcase her skills in arguably the strongest netball competition on the planet.
3. Left-arm and loving it
Coutts Crossing young gun Brad Chard got his hands on a baggy green after selection in the Australian under-19 side which toured India.
The left-arm quick has gained a couple of yards of pace this season and combined with his late swing has proved a handful for opposition sides.
Big things are predicted for the Coutts spearhead who at a local level continues to take wickets.
In five Premier League games Chard has taken 12 wickets at an average of 17 with a miserly economy rate of just 2.89.
Chard is also a member of the NSW under-19 side.
2. At last, premiership wait is finally over
It took them 30-years but it was worth the wait.
The Grafton Tigers rocketed from cellar-dwellers to North Coast AFL grand final heroes after downing the Port Macquarie Magpies 10-10-(70) to 8-7-(55).
After fighting off early nerves the Adi Campbell-coached Tigers kept their composure to record an historic victory sending their loyal fans into frenzy at the Coffs Harbour Stadium.
Campbell did a remarkable job turning a side down on confidence into true believers as they went through the regular season experiencing just one loss.
A combination of self belief, fitness and astute game plans saw the Tigers finally give their supporters something to cheer about.
1. Seeing double. Grafton Ghosts' back-to-back titles
The loss of several key players from their 2010 squad was not enough to bring the Ghosts back to the field in the NRRRL competition.
There were suggestions early on the Ghosts may struggle to win two premierships on the trot but under the astute leadership of Col Speed they proved the critics wrong.
Built around an impregnable wall of defence the Ghosts held-off a fast-finishing Murwillumbah Mustangs 10-6 in the decider.
Not to be outdone the Ghosts under-18 side also made it two in a row with a thrilling 26-22 victory over arch-rivals the Ballina Seagulls.
To put the icing on the cake the Ghosts first grade side once again picked up the prestigious Clayton Cup award.