WARIALDA has been forced to withdraw from Group 19 after reportedly not being able to field a first grade side.
The club has 23 players signed up but are not at first grade level according to club vice president Morgan Bell.
This is refuted by Group 19 president Mick Lewis who said the group felt they were capable of playing first grade and were foxing.
Bell said the club was keen to enter a reserve grade, U18s, and league tag side but were shut down on Friday.
“We sent an email requesting that we could play in the reserve grade comp as well as juniors and league tag,” Bell said.
“We got a phone call on Friday saying that it was first grade or nothing.”
The Warialda club believes they could not hold their own in the top grade, and don’t want to get flogged each week.
“There are probably two players that are first graders here,” Bell said.
“We don’t have a half or five eight that could play at that level.”
Group 19 president Mick Lewis said the club only applied to play reserve grade with no juniors or league tag sides.
“The feeling in most of the clubs is that they would not be out of their depth and are taking the soft option,” Lewis said.
“Make no mistake, we want them playing footy here, just in the top grade”
Warialda played a trial early this month against Group 19 newcomers Goondiwindi in Goondiwindi, which resulted in a 16 all draw. Last season Warialda combined with Bingara to form Gwydir.
That side had a stellar season losing in the grand final to Moree before surprising many and dissolving due to inner politics.
“Looking at last year and the Goondiwindi result they are capable of first grade football,” Lewis said.
Bell said Warialda did boast some quality players, but they have signed up for other clubs.
There is a few playing for Moree and Inverell, with a couple more spread between other clubs.
“We don’t have the money to keep those blokes here,” Bell said.
“What I do have is 23 blokes keen to play footy and no where to play.”
Last season Uralla did the same thing and were allowed to only play reserve grade, juniors, and league tag.
This season they have four full sides.
“Why can’t we do the same thing,” Bell said.
The president has offered Warialda an olive branch.
“If they have a go at first grade and after a few weeks are getting flogged we would then look at stepping them down to reserve grade.”
As it stands Warialda are still on the draw and if they don’t play it will become a bye round.
The other half of Gwydir, Bingara have rejoined the Group 4 Second Division.
Warialda are in the process of contacting Group 4.