Rebels call on fresh faces to maintain winning formula
RUGBY LEAGUE: It has been a long and tough four years for outgoing South Grafton Rebels' president Ray Taunton but he will tell you it was all worth it.
Taunton has seen the proud rugby league club from its darkest depths with only a reserve grade team on the park in 2011 to back-to-back premierships on home soil in 2015 and 2016.
Starting with a foundation first grade player roster including captain Grant Stevens and now coach Ron Gordon, Taunton had a five year plan to reach a grand final.
In the four years since he along with the integral support of vice-president John Matthews and a loyal committee have already managed to deliver on that plan two-fold.
But with work commitments forcing the former president to move out of town he has had to hand over the reins - a task that was not so easy for the die-hard Rebel.
"I am very happy over the four years to see the improvement and see the club rise from the bottom of the league," Taunton said. "I couldn't be any happier with where we got the Rebels to.
Will South Grafton Rebels win a third straight Group 2 title in 2017?
This poll ended on 15 August 2017.
Yes - Nothing can stop the Rebels juggernaut at the moment. Let the good times roll.
Maybe - A legacy has started, but the new committee must not drop the ball.
I don't think so - Taunton and Matthews masterminded two premierships. A third, without them, would be a stretch.
No - Every dog has his day. The Rebels are done.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"It is certainly a tough time for me because I have made so many great friends in the club from the players through to the committee.
"We have got the support of the community and all the players are on board moving in to the future."
Long standing Rebels supporter and club man Brad Rodda is set to take the reins from the outgoing Taunton along with a fresh-faced executive for the 2017 season.
Due to health concerns John Matthews has had to take a step back from his position as vice-president but will still remain involved with the club which sees Janita Cooper step into the second-in-command role.
Rebels' long-standing trainer Terry Power has put his hand up for the secretary position while Jodie Rigg will step into the treasurer's role.
For Cooper, who was the president of the Rebels from 2006-2007, the return to an executive role came to ensure the club continued in the positive stead in which Taunton and Matthews were leaving it.
"I didn't want to see the club fall into the same position it was in four years ago," she said.
"The former committee have put so many tireless hours into building the club back up I decided I would put my hand up to keep that going."
Cooper said one of her focusses and one shared by the entire new committee was to continue the family feel at the Rebels.
With a particular focus on the kids and continuing to expand the Rebels' junior program the new committee is hoping to put the club in a position of a prosperous future.
"I want to just keep the family atmosphere at the club and to ensure there is a Rebels future for the kids in the Clarence," Cooper said.
"There needs to be a focus on the juniors because without them we don't have a future as a club. The juniors become our first graders."
Premiership winning coach Ronnie Gordon will continue his position at the helm of first grade for the 2017 season but coaching positions remain open for reserve grade and under 18s with the club asking for expressions of interest.
TIMELINE OF REBELS RESURRECTION UNDER PRESIDENT RAY TAUNTON
- AUG 2012: Return of the Rebels
- OCT 2012: Rebels first grade coach appointed in a milestone move
- AUG 2013: Rebels go on the attack for second win of the season
- OCT 2013: Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels head south
- AUG 2014: Rebels Under-18s fire in decider under Gordon
- JAN 2015: Rebels have cause to be optimistic with new faces
- JUNE 2015: Rebels beat rivals Ghosts for first time since 2009
- JUNE 2015: Divine intervention for South Grafton Rebels?
- AUG 2015: South Grafton Rebels make history in Group 2 decider
- APR 2016: Sullivan winds back the clock in big Rebels win'
- APR 2016: Ghosts 'schooled' by Rebels at McKittrick Park
- SEPT 2016: Rebels reggies lift with power of the people
- SEPT 2016: Kings of the Clarence: Rebels clinch premiership over Ghosts