Soccer: Rovers founder inspires team ahead of grand final

LISMORE Richmond Rovers will contest another men's premier division grand final this weekend.

The East Lismore club has been a regular contender for the title for several decades and is defending premiers in the Far North Coast competition.

While the inevitable changes have occurred to playing rosters in the premier team over time, the one constant at Rovers has been the endearing presence of club founder Bill Harris.

When Harris decided to form a new soccer club back in 1961, after leading the Goonellabah/Stars side to premierships in 1958, 59 and 60, his vision encompassed more than just the style of play he wanted from his new team.

MUCH ADMIRED: Club stalwart Bill Harris will provide plenty of inspiration for the Richmond Rovers premier division team ahead of the grand final on Saturday.
MUCH ADMIRED: Club stalwart Bill Harris will provide plenty of inspiration for the Richmond Rovers premier division team ahead of the grand final on Saturday.

The formation of Lismore Richmond Rovers Soccer Club was to encapsulate the values that a young Harris considered fundamental to the type of individuals he wanted as being representative of his soccer club.

Rovers has a sound legacy few clubs can boast with as much certainty and Harris has been the patriarch who has maintained an active and unwavering interest in every facet of club activity for all 55 years.

Although now unable to attend games due to declining health, such is the respect and adoration held for Harris that Rovers players have adhered to a strict ritual for decades by collectively visiting their club's founder during grand final week.

While ill health has prompted Harris to reluctantly request some privacy from the planned player visit this year, his spirit and passion will no doubt provide inspiration for every Rovers player as they enter Oakes Oval on Saturday.

Although Harris will not attend the grand final this year, he offers a few thoughts to the Rovers lads as they prepare for the grand final this weekend.

"I ask that every player imagines this is the biggest game of their life and they play with confidence, respect and make smart decisions," Harris said.

"Show your team-mates, your club and your family that your performance will be remembered as the best game of your life."

After celebrating 14 grand final wins for Rovers premier division and having held the trophy aloft three times himself, Harris has undisputed credentials to offer such salient advice.

Rovers will play Byron Bay in each of the men's premier reserve and premier grand finals on Saturday in Lismore, with the main game scheduled to kick off at 6.30pm.