Magpies go in to recess
By STEVE ARCHBOLD
BELLINGER Valley-Dorrigo Rugby League is a club in crisis.
For the second time in three years, a lack of senior players has forced first and reserve grade into recess.
In 2004, Group 2 allowed the Magpies to field an under 18 team and the club eventually won the grand final.
But a repeat dose of that effort is no longer possible with juniors withdrawing after a last gasp meeting on Tuesday night.
In the aftermath of a touch-up from Orara Valley Axemen at Bellingen on Sunday, the players held a crisis meeting and decided with limited numbers they would be unable to meet their commitments this year.
They started the trial with 22 senior players and were down to 14 at the finish with another six carrying injuries which would have prevented them from playing Sunday's opening round.
Club president, Steve Glyde, said while there was an enthusiastic group of younger players keen to do the job this year they would have been thrown to the wolves without the inclusion of quality experienced first grade players.
"You can't question the heart they have shown to try and keep the club going," Glyde said.
"We've tried everything to keep the club going, our secretary Russell Fensom must have made hundreds of calls to players to get them to Bellingen this season but his efforts have been in vain.
"It is hard for someone like Russell's son, Anthony, who has played in Bellingen colours all his life, now he is at a loss what to do with his footballing future.
"Anthony asked me the other day why he had to look for another club and why wouldn't the other players come here, I couldn't give him an answer."
The light at the end of the tunnel for a Magpies' recovery in the next few years is fading fast.
"The future is looking bleak when you consider there are only eight 15- and 16-year-olds from Bellingen playing junior league this year and they have been forced to join Nambucca Heads, there just aren't enough young people in the Bellinger Valley to form our own team," he said.
Premiers in 1999, those glory days are now only a memory as the Magpies haven't figured in the semi-finals since then, collecting the wooden spoon on two occasions in the past six seasons.