It may not get the screen time or column inches of its senior cousin but reserve-grade football remains not only relevant but hugely valued by those who run out at midday every Saturday.

The eclectic mix of personalities and priorities within the twos is quite unique and that environment, according to first-year Albury coach Jessy Wilson, needs to be protected.

Wilson, who hasn’t played since injuring himself in last year’s senior grand final defeat to Yarrawonga, has teamed up with Will Haberecht to lead the Tigers’ assault on the Carlton Draught Cup – and it’s been an eye-opening experience.

“It’s been tough, with a lot of numbers out, but we’ve coped really well and bonded together as a young group,” Wilson said.

“This middle part of the season has been tricky, numbers-wise, and that does stress me out!

“I remember looking back at the start of the season when we had 50 signed on the list and thought that was enough but Shaun Daly was pushing us to sign a few more, just because things like this can happen.

“There’s a lot of phone calls throughout the week, calling up ex-players and mates of mates… but we’re getting there.

“Ressies football in the OMFNL is starting to become a lot more professional than it was five years ago, which is a good thing if you’re looking for that.

“But at the same time, there’s a lot of kids who are just happy to play ressies, enjoy coming out at 12 o’clock and not taking it so seriously.

“You quickly find out who the kids are that are on that fringe level of wanting to go up and the ones that are comfortable and you learn how to coach them.

“I hope it stays relevant because a senior side doesn’t make a club.

“You’re only as good as your bottom player so it takes 50 blokes and ressies is something that needs to stick around so we need to get behind it and keep pushing.”

Since emigrating from Scotland to play cricket, all 39 of Neil Smith’s games for Lavington have been in the twos.

“I hadn’t heard of football until I was 22,” Smith laughed.

“But this level suits me. Having never played the game as a kid, running around in the ressies is just a bit of fun and something to do in the off-season from cricket.

“I do take it seriously – I train both nights every week and do the Monday recovery as well – but it’s the social side I really love.

“I think it’s extremely important, especially from a mental health and wellbeing perspective. “You’ve got 50 players on the list, lots of friends, people to interact with and it gives you purpose through the week.

“We have a BBQ at Lavi every week while we sit and watch the seniors so it’s great, it’s good fun.”

The two local rivals clash at Lavington Sports Ground on Saturday, with third-placed Albury two wins ahead of the Panthers in fourth.