The tumult that marked the Bundarra Bears’ exit from the whole of season 2018 has been replaced by the quiet relief of their pending return to the paddock in 2019.
Luke Deaves, who led Bundarra to 2017 premiership glory in Group 4’s now-defunct second division, has confirmed that the Bears will play in Group 19’s second-division competition next season. The club will also field a league tag side.
Deaves said the Bears’ re-emergence after a season-long hibernation was confirmed at the club’s recent annual general meeting. The meeting was well attended, he said.
The club’s application to remain in Group 4 last season was unsuccessful. Group 19 then green-lighted the Bears playing in its second-division competition in 2018, but the club was unable to attract enough players and sat out the year.
Deaves said the nucleus of the side who beat the Bulldogs in the 2017 grand final at Barraba, after finishing the regular season in fourth spot, remained.
“It looks like it should be a good year,” he said. “We’ve got a few new players, so it should be pretty promising, I think.”
He added: “I think we’ll be pretty strong, real competitive. It’s gonna be a strong comp, too.
“Don’t worry about the second-division comp in Group 19. There’s a lot of good players in that comp.”
Deaves sat out the entire 2017 season, which he described as “pretty tough”, while a number of ex-Bears played for the premiership-winning Guyra Super Spuds in the inaugural year of Group 19’s second-division comp.
Deaves said: “It was hard sitting on the sideline watching it [his ex-teammates playing for another team], knowing what we had the previous year in winning the comp the way we did … Yeah, it was a pretty tough year on the sideline.”
In March, Bundarra elected a new committee after Group 4 rejected their bid to play in the organisation’s revamped reserve-grade competition last season, saying the clubs voted against the Bears’ application.
Bundarra then signalled their intention to play in Group 19’s new second-division competition, but admitted it was unlikely enough players would be signed.
It is not the first time Bundarra have rebounded. Following the 1996 season, the club disappeared for two decades, before re-emerging in 2016 as the Bears.
Deaves said a new amenities block at the club’s home ground at the Bundarra Sport and Recreation Club – the result of a $193,000 state government grant – would “go close” to being finished for the start of the season.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.