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?
Roosters Toyota Cup
possible signing with Bellingen
Anthony Hickling-played 2009
Carl Laurie-local junior
Dan Randall-played 2009
Jack Sheppard-Ex-rugby player
James King – local junior
Jason James - local junior
Ryan Binge-Cessnock and local junior
Tom Martin - played 2009
Trent Cullen-local junior
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