End of an era for the Rams
A DOUBLE Grand Final showing was a fitting swan song for Byron Bay Services Club's retiring Premier Coach Damon Bell.
In an extraordinary career with the Rams, Bell has collected four Premiership and two Championship trophies, an Anzac Cup and taken the Rams through to the Regional level of the FFA Cup.
The Reserves and Prems have been a dominant force in Football Far North Coast competition for all of Damon's six years at the helm and each team has competed in six of the last seven Grand Finals.
Despite gusty performances from the Rams in both Divisions, Saturday night's Grand Finals fell just short of a fairytale result.
The Reserves fought a dogged battle against a tough and experienced Richmond Rovers side. The gruelling end-to-end clash remained scoreless for the full ninety minutes, plus 20 minutes of hard graft in extra time only for the Rams to go down 7-6 in the ensuing penalty shoot out.
An outstanding performance from Keeper Marcus Gibbs saw the 16-year-old awarded the Man-of-the-Match trophy.
The Premier Grand Final was an equally intense encounter between rivals Byron Rams and South Lismore Celtic.
This season's four previous matches between the two clubs delivered two wins apiece and some of the most exciting, high quality football in recent memory. This Grand Final promised more of the same, with a near capacity crowd packing Crosier Field to cheer on the contenders.
The Rams hit the ground running - dominating much of the first half with plenty of attacking moves but could not crack the Celtic defence.
Souths stepped up their attack in the second half, with the Rams defending hard and mounting frequent counter attacks. With 15 minutes remaining and extra-time looming, Souths broke the deadlock off the back of a free kick to take a 1-0 lead. Minutes later a superb free kick beat the Rams keeper and put Souths two goals in front.
With barely ten minutes on the clock, Byron found another gear and, throwing everyone forward, began to hammer the Celtic goal. Shot after shot was parried by the busy Souths Keeper or intercepted by their stolid defence. A penalty in the dying minutes took the scoreline to 2-1 and sparked an even more intense rally from the Rams.
Stellar performances from Diego Vazquez, Lisandro Luaces, Ben Ahern, Rick Muir, Pierce Essery and Jono Pierce were highlights of an epic team effort in the final match of the season.
Supporters are invited to join the Rams and Wildcats with their, coaches, managers, families and friends in celebrating one of the Club's most successful seasons at the Presentation Night on Saturday, October 12 from 6pm at the Byron Bay Services Club.