Grafton City third division coach Greg Allen with joint second division coach Lee Stutt and Michael Cooper. The club’s new major sponsor is Jacaranda Hotel.
Grafton City third division coach Greg Allen with joint second division coach Lee Stutt and Michael Cooper. The club’s new major sponsor is Jacaranda Hotel. Adam Hourigan

North Coast Football shakeup

SENIOR soccer players in the lower divisions will no longer have to travel to Macksville or Dorrigo for a game if North Coast Football’s proposal is taken up by the masses.

The plan, outlined by NCF’s operations manager Bob Harris yesterday, is to have the competition’s third division split into two sections – a north section covering the Clarence Valley and a south section for teams from Coffs to Macksville.

Harris said the two sections would play off for a grand champion at the end of the season although details of exactly how this would work had not yet been determined.

The whole plan depends on the amount of nominations NCF receives in each division with a minimum of six teams required to run a competition.

Taking this into consideration, Harris said fourth division may struggle for teams as a split competition.

“There’s quite a few players that play for social reasons and have families who don’t want to travel two to three hours on a Saturday,” Harris said.

“They are perturbed about travelling from Grafton or Iluka all the way down to Macksville or Nambucca to play. Having a north and a south section to third division will make it geographically more feasible for people.”

The NCF boss said his organisation was responding to concerns of its member clubs including Dorrigo, whose lower division teams struggled to field sides to travel to Iluka towards the end of last season.

He said teams such as Corindi or Woolgoolga may join the north section to add to team numbers.

Westlawn Tigers second division coach John Nelson said he supported the idea of a north/south section to third division provided there were enough teams.

Similarly, Grafton City’s third division coach Greg Allen did not object to the idea but called for the maintenance of fourth division saying running two teams from the same club in the same division was counter-productive because one team would inevitably be stacked to secure a grand final trophy.

“Also fourth division is a great place to introduce 16s into senior competition and some women who want a more physical game can play there,” Allen said.

“I’ve got 40 players on the books already in men’s and it looks like we’ll have teams in second, third and hopefully fourth division.”

South Services Gunners second division coach Brett Collison said he’d prefer a split fourth division and a travelling third division in which third division teams travel with second division teams and back each other up where necessary.

“Getting enough teams to run a fourth division might be the hurdle,” Collison said.

Clubs have to nominate their teams by February 28 and most clubs have sign-on days planned today and the following two Saturdays at traditional locations including Rushforth Park, Barnier Park and Grafton Public School (City juniors).

Harris admitted that nominating sides this early in the year took some ‘crystal ball work’ from clubs but NCF had little choice because it needed to make up the season’s draws during March.

“We have 250 games going on every weekend so we need March to make up the draw,” he said.

The NCF season is set to kick off on April 17.



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