NPL, QPL teams face off in football friendly in Rocky today
FOOTBALL: Southside United Sports Club has scored a pre-season coup, playing host to a football friendly involving two of the game's premier clubs.
The newly-licensed Mackay-based Magpies Crusaders (National Premier League) and the Wide Bay Buccaneers (Queensland Premier League) will face off at 5pm today at Jardine Park.
Southside will get a taste of the on-field action as well, with its Premier League squad taking on the Buccaneers under-20s in the curtain raiser at 3pm.
Southside president Mark Butcher said it was great for the club, its players and the local football community.
"I'm hoping people will get behind it and we see a couple of hundred there,” he said.
"It will be one of the few opportunities they get to see this quality of game in Rockhampton.
"I'd urge everyone to come along and make a day of it and watch what should be some very entertaining football.”
Butcher said the wheels were set in motion when he received a call last Friday from Football CQ general manager Jim Douglas, who was looking for a suitable venue for the game.
He explained that the friendlies planned by the two rep clubs had fallen through but they were still keen for a pre-season hit-out and Rockhampton shaped as the perfect place for it to happen.
Butcher accepted the offer and he and an energetic band of volunteers set about readying the playing surface and the facilities.
He and coach Roy Benson were equally as enthusiastic when offered the chance to play the curtain raiser, even though the club's Premier League squad was only a week into its pre-season.
"It's a good thing for our players to not only see that high level of soccer but to play against it,” Butcher said.
"These under-20s are going to be the next level players, possibly making it to the A-League, so it's a great opportunity for our guys.
"It's really brought them together this week. They've trained hard and they're looking forward to it, and it will be a good test to see just where they're at early on in the pre-season.
"I'd encourage them to enjoy the experience, and to enjoy the main game as well.”
Butcher said season 2018 was shaping as a good one on-field for Southside which, for the "first time in a while”, was set to field teams in first, second and third divisions.
It would again play in the women's competition and was confident of having teams in every junior age group from under-6 to under-14.
"We're definitely increasing participation and a strong finish to 2017 has given us plenty to build on,” Butcher said.