United forging path back into the Premier League
FOOTBALL: After a year out of top flight men's football, Grafton United are fighting their way back onto the field on the back of the Australian spirit.
With a team of dedicated sponsors leading the push, club members came together with the right mindset to just "give it a red hot go" and now find themselves readying for an FFA Cup preliminary round clash with NC Football giants Coffs United Lions.
But for new president Kye McPherson it is an exciting time for United as they fly the purple flag proudly ahead of the 2017 season.
"Our major sponsors (Tableland Timbers, The Australian Hotel and Grafton Shoppingworld Butchery) led a push to get us back into Premier League," he said.
"We all came together as club members because we believe in Grafton United.
"We want to reinvigorate the sport in the Clarence and open up opportunities for the footballing youth to grow and reach their potential."
United's premier league side will be a balanced mix of older experienced heads and the next generation - under head coach Andy Collen - as they build toward a strong future in the top grades.
"They say it takes four years to fully build a club and that is the time-frame we are giving ourselves," McPherson said. "We will give it our best this season, then next year we will come together stronger for the experience and that will keep happening."
After a tough season for the club's women's ranks last year they are only set to improve with the introduction of new coach, state-level schools coach Mark Newman.
McPherson said the club will also look to begin a fund pool for the Valley's junior ranks in an effort to make rep football more accessible.
United kick off their return to the top level in FFA action at 4pm Sunday (Feb 26) at Forsyth Park, Coffs Harbour.