How rising footy clubs keep local derby duels alive
FOOTBALL: As long-time regional fans know well, there is nothing like a local derby to boost interest and attract a decent crowd.
Tradition-rich local derbies involving clubs like the Ipswich City Bulls, Ipswich Knights and Western Spirit have for many years stirred extra passion and led to some classic battles.
This season, senior and junior teams from Western Pride and the Knights will battle again in the Queensland Premier League.
Before those hotly-anticipated derbies in coming weeks, rapidly growing clubs Ripley Valley and Springfield United are also keeping past traditions alive.
The regional clubs have joined forces to play for the Centenary Cup in what is hoped will be an annual pre-season series.
The inaugural matches between the top grade and Reserve sides are scheduled for 5pm and 7pm on Saturday at the newly-opened Springfield Central Sports Complex.
The neighbouring football clubs will play for a perpetual trophy.
Ripley Valley's two senior men's sides are preparing for their debut in this year's Football Brisbane Capital League 2 competition after winning promotion last season.
Springfield's leading men's teams are in Capital League 3 again after being well in the promotion race last season before just falling short.
Ripley Valley FC head coach Nick Paterson said the inaugural Centenary Cup would strengthen regional ties after the pre-season idea was floated last year.
"We thought this year: 'why not, let's get it going','' Paterson said.
"It will build a good rapport between the two clubs.
"We don't have a derby game this year (in CL2) so it's important to have a little derby pre-season leading into the year. It should be good.''
Springfield United club president Scott Harding also welcomed the new format, having made the impressive new sporting complex a new home.
"It will be a good test for our boys . . . and it will be interesting to see how we go,'' Harding said.
Matches between Ripley Valley and Springfield were hotly contested in last year's CL3 competition.
Both clubs have recruited well in the off-season, especially Ripley Valley which has attracted a number of players from higher level leagues.
They include Adam O'Sullivan, who is keen to get some game time into his legs in his first pre-season match this weekend.
"We've got a deep squad,'' Paterson said. "Records show that you go through 30-35 blokes in a season so you need that depth.''
Springfield United have secured former Souths, Rochedale and Ipswich Knights goalkeeper Declan Murphy, who will captain the CL3 side.
Harding was delighted to see Springfield United FC boost its club numbers from 430 last year to 700.
That builds on last year's junior success where all six teams in grand finals won their major matches.
"It's huge,'' Harding said of the growth being experienced at Springfield, assisted by Ipswich City Council, having a new venue and extra sponsorship support.
"We're very, very happy with how we are going.''
He said Western Pride FC were also new "neighbours'' training on adjacent fields at the Springfield Central complex.
Ripley's opening CL2 match is the following Saturday night against North Brisbane away.
Springfield United FC open their CL3 campaign against the Brighton Bulldogs on the same night, also in an away clash.