The traditional rivalry between North Queensland and Far North Queensland has more than usual at stake this Saturday when Townsville-based Northern Fury FC takes on Cairns-based FNQFC Heat in their regular Play Station 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland fixture at Brolga Park.
The winner of the match also earns the right to hold the ‘Frank Farina Cup’ for the next twelve months, given by the most successful footballer from north of the Capricorn, Frank Farina.
“Frank Farina is the most successful player ever from this region of Australia,” said Northern Fury Chairman, Rabieh Krayem.
“The North Queensland v Far North Queensland Derby is already the biggest rivalry in regional Queensland football, if not regional football nationally – and playing for the honour of the Frank Farina Cup makes it even more so,” said Krayem.
“Frank is a really good example of a kid from the country who went all the way in football, when it was even more difficult to do so compared with now.
“It’s good to be able to say to promising young Fury and Heat players that dreams can come true if they’re prepared to work at it."
Farina was born in Darwin, played his first scratch game in New Guinea but lived in Cairns for eight years. His first professional team was Mareeba United (for four matches) before being accepted as one of the first students at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
He was one of the first Australian players to forge a successful international career, playing in Belgium, Italy and France before returning to Australia to lead the Brisbane Strikers to the national soccer league (NSL) championship as player-coach in 1997 at age 32. He was a regular member of the Socceroos from when first selected as a 19-year-old in 1984 until his retirement from international football in 1995.
He was twice Player of the Year and leading goalscorer in the former national soccer league and won the golden boot award and best foreign player in Belgium. Farina was coach of the Socceroos from 1999-2005, has coached Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC in the A-League and most recently took the Fiji U20 side to the U20 World Cup.
“It’s been a long time since I played football in North Queensland, but it's where I grew up and learned my football and played my first professional game. It has taken me all over the world as a player, as a Socceroo and as a coach.
"My advice to any young player – boy or girl - who want to do the same thing is to hold the dream, work hard, respect others, never stop learning and, importantly, remain humble.”
Northern Fury is currently in 5th place on 24 points on the NPL Queensland competition ladder, three points ahead of FNQ FC, and with one game in hand.
Nonetheless, the local team goes into the fixture as underdogs never having beaten their tropical rivals.
“It’s one game at a time for us, and in Derby matches you can be sure of two things,” said Northern Fury coach, Ian Ferguson. “Expect the unexpected; and there’s a first time for everything!”
There will be two junior fixtures at Brolga Park involving Northern Fury teams, with the U18 Boys meeting Wulguru Premier team at 3pm, and Fury’s U18 Girls and U15 Girls playing at 5pm.
The Frank Farina Cup match kicks-off at 7pm. Entry is $5 from 5pm; free to U15s.