Magpies to rebuild

“ONCE a Magpie always a Magpie.”

That’s the message past players like Ross McPherson, Bill McCarron and first-grade coach Ricky Binge hope the new breed of Lower Clarence rugby league players will take on board as the famous club goes through a rebuilding phase.

With almost the entire first-grade side leaving the club this season, many punters tipped the club to fold but those doubters didn’t count on the Magpies’ resolve and sheer doggedness.

The Class of 2010 is packed with local juniors who now have the pressure of stepping into the shoes of last year’s premiers.

The history books will tell you the Magpies won, or to some, bought a premiership last season, but that’s all in the past according to Binge who has taken on the unenviable task of reconstructing a side decimated by player movements.

“When I was appointed to the position of first-grade coach I knew we looked at losing six to eight players,” Binge said.

“I thought we would go all right only losing a few players but as it turned out we lost nearly everyone, only Dan Randall has stood up.

“We recruited well and at the time we thought we had a bit of a pool to dig into to pay the players but it was not the case.

“The guys who have stuck around are just getting normal match payments which would be a win bonus. There are no contract players on big money.”

What most people may not know is Binge is not being paid a cent, not a single brass razoo for his services.

Binge, who played for all three Clarence Valley clubs in the 1990s, is just the man to lead the club into a new era according to assistant and jack of all trades ‘Brecko’ Breckenridge.

“Ricky is a modest person and has plenty of respect from the players. He’s not getting paid to coach but he is the right person to instil into the players what the club is all about and what it means to stick together and play for each other,” Breckenridge said.

With the club’s financial woes seemingly looking brighter, Binge says payment to players would most likely improve in the future.

“The new committee are pretty focused on getting things back on track and I think they’ll make a huge difference,” Binge said.

“We are rebuilding this year and next season we may look at a different payment scheme for the players. We’re already looking at a points system. You actually pay players if they get ahead but to do that you have to keep winning...it’s a catch-22 situation.

“If you’re not winning you’re not making any money to pay players and not getting the crowds along to the games.” The Magpies have struggled early in the season with a draw and two losses but Binge is optimistic the club can improve if a full complement of players is available.

“We’ve had an ordinary start with a couple of away games and in doing so suffered a few injuries. I think the draw will eventually come into our favour and we can move forward,” he said. “At the moment we need a few old heads in the team...at this stage our old heads are 22-years-old.

“The young guys need someone to look up to. Clint Torrens is nursing a knee injury but when he returns hopefully he’ll be the player who can lead the side and be someone the young players can look up to.”

Under no illusions it will be a Herculean effort if the Lower Clarence side are to make the semi-finals this season, Binge is banking on his players to stick solid and continue that proud Magpie tradition.

“I hope the players remain loyal and at this stage I’m happy how things are going...I suppose I have to be,” he said.

“There are a lot of things I’d like to do but you just can’t. There are no real incentives at this stage to keep players happy but hopefully the players will continue to turn up for training.

Binge may not have the players of the calibre of a Hughie Stanley or a George Jarrett but one thing is certain – he will put his heart and soul into a club desperate to once again be a force.

Flying the coop

2009 Grand Final side

Where are they now?

Grant Brown

Northern United

D.J. Eamens

Gold Coast

Dan Randall

remained

Hughie Stanley

Roosters Toyota Cup

Mikey Randall

possible signing with Bellingen

Willie Lockwood

Taree

Dallas Waters

retired

Matt Michael

Goondiwindi

Sam Woods

Rhinos

Luke Faul

retired

Mitch McLennan

injured

George Jarrett

Townsville

Don Walker

coach Kyogle

Tom Martin

remained

Jerry Byers

Northern United

Anthony Hickling

remained

2010 Squad

Anthony Hickling-played 2009

Carl Laurie-local junior

Dan Randall-played 2009

Jack Sheppard-Ex-rugby player

James Griffin-Kempsey

James King – local junior

Jason James - local junior

Ryan Binge-Cessnock and local junior

Tom Martin - played 2009

Trent Cullen-local junior

Clint Torrens-Casino

Paul MacDermott-local junior

Luke Vial - local junior

Ben Maloney-local junior

Zane Purcell-local junior

Jackson Lucas-local junior

Reece Doak-local junior

Aaron Walker-local junior

Theo Woods - local junior



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