Ballarat v Bendigo: What's in a rivalry?

BALLARAT Lady Miners coach Kym Cassells has no hesitation in talking up a clash with Bendigo in the South East Australian Basketball League.As far as she is concerned, it makes no difference when the battles occur.Encounters with the Lady Braves are the biggest moment in a home-and-away season."We talk it. And I have no doubt they do the same," she said."I'm happy to go with it."Cassells has spent two decades at the coalface of Ballarat basketball - growing up with the Ballarat-Bendigo rivalry at various levels of the sport as player and coach.But it is not necessarily the same for everyone.New Miners coach Leigh Gooding says he will be treating it predominantly the same as any other game.He would not be putting any extra emphasis on it just because they were facing Bendigo.Gooding said the RetireInvest Ballarat Miners' focus was on putting all their energy into ensuring better performances than those against Nunawading and Sandringham at the weekend.Although Ballarat defeated Nunawading, it did not play as well as he would have liked. Then the Miners were swept aside by an undermanned Sandringham.Gooding acknowledged that longstanding Miners such as Brett Goodgame, Ryan Stevens and Phil Benn, who had been long involved in the rivalry, would derive something extra from playing Bendigo, but it was not necessarily easy for newcomers to become emotionally involved.He said no matter where players came from though, they had all been involved in rivalries and knew what they were all about.While agreeing playing Bendigo was just one game in the make-up of a season, Cassells said there was no question the the Ballarat Community Health Lady Miners always lifted in The Courier-Bendigo Advertiser Cup battles.She said Ballarat teams always lifted against Bendigo."Obviously new players have not experienced it, but we ensure players who have talk to them about the rivalry."Most of our players have grown up with it."Cassells has no doubt players find something extra against Bendigo."Yes, we're always trying to do our best, but if it means finding something extra to get an edge ..."She said in terms of any SEABL season, there was no doubt that games against Bendigo were as big as it got for the Lady Miners.Former Miners coach Paul Tudorovic agrees wholeheartedly with Cassells."There's nothing bigger in sport in Ballarat than the rivalry with Bendigo," the former Miners coach and player said."Everything is on the line - country pride and all that kind of stuff," Tudorovic said.He said as a coach he would always do that bit extra to prepare for an encounter with the Braves."I'd scrutinise them even more than usual."Tudorovic said as a coach he would always ensure all players, especially imports, were aware of the rivalry and what it meant."It's all about the history of the club - back to the (Brian) Goorjian days."Tudorovic said one of his most memorable moments as coach was a 37-point win over Bendigo at Bendigo."It's one of those games you don't forget," he said.Another ex-Miners coach Ray Borner offered a mix between the two approaches.He said while there was nothing like beating Bendigo, he believed the rivalry was very much a personal thing.Borner said each player was affected differently.He said with so many big games in a season, players tended to plateau and games like Ballarat-Bendigo provided an opportunity to find an edge.Borner said it was important that players learnt about the history of the team they were playing for."That's what being part of a club is all about."He said there was nothing like winning games of this nature - watching the faces of the vanquished players, coaches, officials and supporters.Borner said the Wollongong Hawks-Sydney Kings rivalry was the biggest he had been involved in in his record-breaking, distinguished National Basketball League career."It was extremely big (as a Wollongong player)," he said.Borner said the whole Wollongong community was involved."No matter where you were, you could feel it."You picked up the rivalry straight away and you couldn't help but get caught up in it," he said.