BATTLE lines have been drawn down Main Street in bunches of balloons.
Darley has turned northside black and white. Bacchus Marsh claimed southside in black, yellow and red.
It is an informal agreement between clubs to keep rivalries friendly when the town’s two football clubs fight for Ballarat Football League premiership glory in both senior and reserves football.
There is one exception.
Gerard Harrington’s finance business is on southside – and he is a long-time proud Devils’ board member and supporter.
Darley senior netball manager Marika Barnes, who works for Harrington, has been busy keeping the shopfront colours bold while decorating the other side of the street.
Ms Barnes said talk about town has all been fun banter. But there were definitely nerves.
“There’s a real. At the same time, everyone’s also saying if their team loses we’re leaving town,” Ms Barnes said.
“It’s great having both sides in the final...Now it’s down to who is the better side on the day. It’s strange but scary.”
Next door, florists were covered in a sea of balloons – also separated. Like most shops along Main Street, a business decision had been made to remain neutral.
Cobras’ netballers were collecting their street markings when The Courier arrived.
“It’s sensational about town. There’s a feeling of pride in the whole community with both sides in the final,” Mariah Deacon said.
There have been a few players and supporter eyeing each other and joking around off over sandwiches though.
It has made for a fun week for 169 Main Street Cafe owner Donna Cox, who has made sure the shop displayed coloured allegiance for Cobras and Devils – partly because her staff is also split in town football loyalties.
“We’ve had a table of regulars, all Cobras, talking about the game all week over their morning coffees and we’ve had tradies come in eyeing each other off while we make their sandwhiches,” Ms Cox said. “There has been a lot of fun banter.”
Even Darley Primary School, right in the heart of Devils’ territory, has a few Cobras ready to strike.
“We won the premiership last year and because we’re the better team,” grade six pupil Taylor said.
Junior Devil Max said Darley had the better overall record: “Darley raises legends”.
How to watch the action unfold live
DARLEY and Bacchus Marsh supporters have already guaranteed they will be out in force for Ballarat Football League grand final day.
But there are still plenty of ways to tune into the action unfolding at Mars Stadium on Saturday.
The Courier’s sports team will broadcast senior football action via Facebook’s live audio feature on The Courier Footy page.
The senior netball showdown between Sunbury and North Ballarat City will be streamed live, also on The Courier Footy page via Facebook.
All match updates and final scores will roll out through a live blog online at thecourier.com.au. This will include plenty of colour photos from the stadium.
For those wanting to watch the games in the new grandstands or on the Mars mound, under-18.5 football action kicks off from 9.30am with East Point and Redan vying for the flag.
From then, the football becomes all about Bacchus Marsh and Darly with the Cobras and Devils battling for premiership for glory in the reserves (from 11.20am) and seniors (from 2.30pm).
Bacchus Marsh is defending premier and Darley, the 2015 senior premier, is vying to win the title back.
North Ballarat City and Sunbury netball action starts from 2.15pm.
Undefeated in the regular season, Sunbury suffered its first loss of the season to North Ballarat City when the teams met in the A-grade semi-final a fortnight ago.
Before then, the lead-up is dominated in Lake Wendouree and Sunbury showdowns for B-grade (12.45pm), C-grade (11.30am) and D-grade (10.15am).
North Ballarat City will clash with Redan in 19/unders from 9am.
No vehicle access or animals permitted inside Mars Stadium.