Magpies hold crisis talks ahead of NRRRL season
RUGBY LEAGUE: Lower Clarence Magpies will field only one senior team as well as an under-18s in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition this season.
A decision by the club to "drop" their reserve grade side was reached during a recent extraordinary meeting between players and committee called by captain-coach Ryan McGoldrick.
The agenda was simply to discuss the future of the club. McGoldrick wanted the players to take ownership of this season.
Numbers have been deteriorating but there were almost 30 in attendance on Tuesday as well as 10 committee members. Everyone had the chance to express their point of view.
Discussion about the possibility of folding the club was raised at the meeting but club stalwarts and loyal players spoke passionately about the club's 100-year history.
McGoldrick made it clear, however, that numbers would have to improve at tonight's training before he would take a side to Lismore this Saturday for trial matches. The coach also gave a strong personal commitment to stick with them.
A potential option was for the club to engage in a 'gap year' whereby they do not compete this year but concentrate on restructure and recruitment. This has not always proven successful in other areas, as players are lost to other clubs.
The cost of the 2009 premiership and some financial mismanagement has stifled progress the last few years but the club is now back on its feet and have secured the services of a quality coach.
Popular clubman DJ Eamons spoke about wanting to complete his career (15 years) as a one club man and that he plays for the jersey and his mates.
Another grand final hero from 2009, Grant Brown suggested that in recent years the club has 'forgotten how to win'.
Players were a little shocked that it had come to this but as club secretary Belinda Martin said, "This could be the beginning of the rebuild".
What is clear is that numbers have been inconsistent with as many as 40 present a few weeks ago. There seems to be a mercenary culture among many prospects as players will play one club against another in order to get the best deal for themselves with little thought of the club itself.
The coach has always made it clear that he wanted to give local players first opportunity to take the club forward. But now it seems the club must look to recruiting some outsiders to make it more competitive on game day.
The biggest problem there is getting employment for 'outsiders' - even Ryan himself has only been able to secure casual employment at this stage.
The Magpies cry goes out to Lower Clarence businesses to help out and indeed save this club not with handouts but with opportunities.
Club president Darrin Heron is passionate about his Under 18 charges but transport issues have restricted Yamba players and in a similar vein to McGoldrick, he needs a good roll up at tonight's training if the club is to survive. His team is the future of the club.
So there it is. The town needs to get behind the club and encourage those you know to get to training tonight and make a commitment for the rest of the year.