The names Steve Morrissey and Darren Beardow have already been etched in football as two of the best ever local players. I had a chat with both of them recently.
Despite both approaching the twilight of their careers (Steve aged 45 and Darren almost 39), there is little diminishment of the sublime skills that have delighted and entertained local supporters for almost three decades.
Affectionately known as Moose and Razz, the boys have been both opponents (with Steve playing many seasons with Lismore Workers FC) and team-mates, winning a premiership together for Lismore Thistles in 1990.
Many eminently more qualified football judges than I have seen Steve and Darren evolve from talented kids into brilliant technicians of the game, but I have been privileged to witness both in action many times and left in awe of their ability.
These guys are also outstanding role models, humble and committed to trying to leave a positive legacy for the game, by sharing their infinite football knowledge with young players. Steve played junior football locally before progressing through senior ranks in Brisbane, Perth (where he played State football), then in Sydney, before returning home.
He will be remembered as a superb striker, described by Darren as having "... the best touch of any player I have ever played with or against. He was unbelievably electric in his prime".
Compelling words indeed, from an equally sensational player who includes Steve along with Todd Gava and Anthony Alvos amongst the top three he has played with or against.
Injury is one factor that may have tempered higher honours but Steve has no regrets as he delights in sharing the pitch with a new breed of skillful players. Young players should listen intently, watch closely and learn from a clinical genius who was awarded the Golden Boot in 1987 and 1991 and Player of the Year in 1991. He rates Darren, Tony Roder and Anthony Alvos as the best players of his generation, saying each possessed special talent and sharp football brains.
For Darren, he was also a child prodigy and could have easily achieved much higher representation but for making a life in Lismore where he has been named Player of the Year an incredible four times and was Golden Boot winner in 1997.
There are few midfielders who can change the course of a game or appear to have the ball on a string and Darren remains one of the most respected players in the premier competition.
What a rare pleasure it was to share a moment with two genuine local legends of our game.
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