FOR the last three years, Port United captain Damien Cross has thought about hanging up the boots.
Now he knows that time has come.
Regardless of the result of Saturday night’s Football Mid North Coast Premier League first grade grand final showdown with Wallis Lake, the soon-to-be 40-year-old will leave the field for the final time.
He could potentially go out in the best way possible with the match set to be a replay of the 2014 season decider.
On that occasion, Wallis emerged with a 3-2 extra-time win in a match many labelled as one of the best-ever.
This year, United and Cross have a chance to not only avenge that defeat, but claim the club’s first Premier League title since 2000.
Cross is the only member of the current squad who featured on that day.
“That was my first full year of first grade,” he said.
“I was only in my early 20s so it was a long time ago, but I remember it was against Camden Haven at the Lake Cathie sporting fields.”
12 months later, United again progressed to the season decider where they were defeated by Taree.
The Green Bloods were then absent from the biggest day of the season for 13 years until the Wallis Lake defeat three years ago.
I remember (the 2000 win) was against Camden Haven at the Lake Cathie sporting fields.
Port have claimed underdog status all year and have done so again, citing Wallis’s experience in grand finals as the key.
They have appeared in four of the last five grand finals, with a preliminary final exit in 2015 their only non-grand final result in that time.
The Forster-based side are also defending premiers.
Saturday’s match will be Cross’s third grand final appearance at Regional Stadium where he is yet to register a win.
He didn’t believe the 2014 loss would provide any added motivation for the team as a collective unit.
“That’s water under the bridge now; it’s been and gone,” he said.
The captain said after a first grade career spanning 17 years, he would be happy to retire and knows the club has a group of youngsters coming through ready to fill the void.
(The 2014 loss) is water under the bridge now; it’s been and gone.
“I’ve been saying I’m going to retire for the last three years but each year I seem to come back,” he said.
“But the depth that’s coming through our club I don’t think I need to make that decision anymore.
“The quality of the kids coming through is really good; my time has come.”
First grade kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday night.