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Reported by Brendan Rhodes
All roads lead to Piranha Park on Saturday for one of the biggest days on the Smithy’s VFL calendar when Coburg and the Northern Bullants meet in the Battle of Bell Street.
It will be the 159th meeting between the proud clubs, with the rivalry dating all the way back to the start of Preston’s second stint in the VFA.
Coburg won the first clash by 43 points at Preston City Oval on June 7, 1926 and went on to win the first seven outings between the clubs.
Preston’s first triumph came by 23 points at Coburg City Oval on July 6, 1929, setting in motion a rivalry that has stood the test of time.
Recently it has been the Bullants who have reigned supreme, winning the past six games between the clubs (five as the Northern Blues), giving them an 80-75-3 win-loss draw record over the Lions heading into Saturday’s showdown.
Coburg is still searching for its first win of the season, adding extra spice to the contest, especially after the Bullants came from behind to pinch a one-point win in a heart stopping finish at the same venue in 2021.
The two sides didn’t face each other in 2022, however that has been addressed this year with all standalone clubs fixtured to play each other during the 2023 Smithy’s VFL home and away season.
The Bullants has been competitive in almost every game so far, recording a victory against Sydney in Round 5 to break a 371-day, 17-match losing run, but have since suffered defeats to Southport and Box Hill Hawks.
The Lions come in fresh off a bye having pushed Geelong all the way in an eight-point defeat in its last start.
It’s a huge day for both clubs, with the day doubling as Coburg’s annual Vicki Cleary Day to raise awareness about the extent of violence against women.
Vicki Cleary, the sister of popular Coburg and VFA great Phil Cleary, was attacked and fatally stabbed by her ex-boyfriend in 1987 at the age of just 25.
A pre-match ceremony will be held at 1.30pm to acknowledge Vicki Cleary Day before the game starts at 2.05pm.
The teams will play for the Vicki Cleary Plaque and the best player on the ground will receive the Harold Martin Medal, named after the VFA legend who was heavily involved in both clubs.
Entry to the Saturday’s game is free for Coburg members, $5 for Bullants members and $10 for the public, making it one of the cheapest ways to spend a Saturday afternoon watching two of the oldest rivals in VFA/VFL history.