THE Guyra Super Spuds will not play in Group 19 this year due to a lack of players.
A committee was formed recently to try to keep the club alive but a number of issues mean player numbers will not be sufficient to field a first grade side, which is a requirement under Group rules.
One of those issues is the ongoing effects of the trouble at last year’s preliminary final against the Moree Boomerangs at Guyra in which several Guyra players were badly injured.
Those incidents have not only caused the loss of those players, but is one of the factors preventing others from signing up again.
Club president Dan Mitchell, who has been in the role for less than two weeks, said it was disappointing to see the club fold but was philosophical about the reasons for its current situation.
“It comes down to a lack of interest,” he said.
“There’s no doubt one of the reasons was that Moree game.
“But it was a number of things.
“The club’s finances aren’t as good as they have been.
“We have an ageing team as well.”
Several players have gone elsewhere or indicated they won’t be playing, while a lack of juniors in recent years has also told on the club.
Ironically, there may have been a solution to that problem this year with a coach and a number of under 18s players willing and ready to provide the Spuds with its first junior side in a number of years.
But without a first grade side the club cannot compete in any other grades.
Those juniors may now head to Uralla while the Spuds will try to rebuild during their year off.
It is the first time since 1995, the year after the closure of the town’s abattoir, that Guyra will not field a team. Since then it has played in 11 first grade grand finals, including 10 of the last 12, and has won four premierships.
It will remain affiliated to Group 19 and a small committee will continue to work towards a possible return next season.
A number of fundraisers are already being discussed.
Guyra’s loss is a big one for the Group.
“It’s a shame for Guyra,” Group president Ivan Coleman said.
“Grand finalists one year and gone the next.
“It’s a shame too because they looked like having a junior side.”
At a Group meeting on Monday all nine remaining clubs - Armidale, Ashford, Glen Innes, Inverell, Moree, Tenterfield, Tingha, Uralla and Warialda/Bingara - were told they must play in the top grade and field at least one other lower grade side, as per the Group by-laws.
But with Ashford indicating it may not have a first grade side there is a chance it will be allowed to play in second grade.
“We don’t want that,” Coleman said.
“It’s an A grade comp and we don’t want byes.
“Once you have two or three byes it doesn’t work.
“But Ashford have lost a few players they were going to have and might not play A grade so we might have eight teams yet.
“There are other options like Ashford playing as Tenterfield’s reserve grade and things like that.”
The first event of the season will be a pre-season tournament at Glen Innes on March 23, which will double as a representative trial.
The U18s rep trials will be at Inverell the following day.
All clubs will have to attend the tournament or miss out on two competition points.
“Every side will play two games,” Coleman said.
“There will be prizemoney and every club gets two points.”
Some new rules will also be enforced.
The CRL have mandated that all first grade competitions be played under a limited interchange rule, which means G19 teams will be reduced from unlimited changes to 12 substitutions per game.