Fox Memorial Premiership semi-finals tend to be fiery occasions in general, but Mt Albert veteran Eddie Purcell has said their game against Glenora on Saturday will be on a whole new level.
The two clubs have a storied history, having clashed in the 2012 Fox Memorial final, while this year there is the added factor of several players having transferred from Mt Albert to Glenora over the off-season.
Ahead of the semi at Mt Smart Stadium #2, Purcell didn’t hold back when asked if there would be some extra feeling come kick-off.
“It’s always a battle when you play familiar faces, there are a few boys in the Glenora team who left us on bad terms last year, so there is going to be a lot of feeling in this game,” he told kiwileaguecentral.com.
“This is personal when it comes to Glenora and all my sacrifices that I have made throughout the years, especially this year to play, it was for Mt Albert and for these boys.
“There was plenty of emotion in the couple of games against them earlier this year and we came out on top.
“The better team is going to win on the day, but it’s going to be a cracker.”
Mt Albert take bragging rights into the elimination final, having won head-to-head clashes against the Bears by 26-18 in Round 6 and 28-10 in Round 15.
Both teams enjoyed victories in their final regular-season game last week, with Mt Albert easing past the relegated Otahuhu Leopards 46-24 and Glenora getting up for a 32-20 win over minor premiers Papakura.
Bears hooker Zac Tippins – one of the players who shifted across from Mt Albert this year – did his best to deflect talk of mid-week sledging between the two clubs, and insisted it was just another game.
“I have lots of mates over there (at Mt Albert) and they have got us twice this year, so it would be good to get one up on them in the one that matters. I am pretty pumped for the weekend,” Tippins said.
“I haven’t experienced any of that banter personally, I don’t know if that’s them trying to turn it into something that it isn’t.
“We are not worrying about them, we are worrying about us and our game.
“Mt Albert go right to the end in games, but I am personally quietly confident that if we can play a complete game that we will be the better team on the day.
“You can sense the confidence there, and even though we played a slightly under-strength Papakura team last week we got something out of that.”
Meanwhile Purcell also revealed his own personal sacrifice ahead of the match, with the former Junior Warrior turning town the opportunity to represent Samoa Residents against Tonga Residents in Hawaii, in favour of playing for his club.
“I’m supposed to be in Hawaii at the moment to play against Tonga, but I chose to play for Mt Albert because it’s a game against Glenora,” Purcell said.
“It was a hard decision because you always aspire to play for your country.”
Mt Albert v Glenora kicks off at 11.00am on Saturday at Mt Smart Stadium #2, followed by the qualifying final between Papakura and Pt Chevalier at the same venue at 2.30pm.
*Here at kiwileaguecentral.com we understand the commitment required from local players, and the people around them, every season. With that in mind Eddie asked us to pass on his thanks to: Ports of Auckland, Fonterra, Bill Werry and family and supporters of the Mt Albert club. Cheers team!