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Working together

By STEVE ARCHBOLD

and BRAD GREENSHIELDS

SAWTELL Rugby League will provide the Gimbisi Valley Warriors club with assistance on crowd control to prevent a repeat of the problems which occurred at Kempsey's Verge St Oval on June 19.

At a meeting between the two clubs called by Group 2 Rugby League at Nambucca Heads on Saturday, Gimbisi officials approached Sawtell to provide details on crowd control procedures.

Sawtell Rugby League Club president, Kerry Hales, said the Panthers had been problem free with spectators since the preliminary final against Mack-sville last year.

"We have introduced a code of conduct and spend $800 each week on having security guards at our games," Hales said.

"We are happy to work with the Gimbisi club in an effort to ensure what happened earlier this year won't occur again."

Hales said he was convinced the Gimbisi Valley Warriors still needed to work on their crowd control to ensure a minority spoiling things for everyone could be kept in check.

"The last thing we want to happen is to have the group rule that future matches between the two clubs would be played behind close doors without any spectators," Hales said.

He felt that the Group's option to shift any future matches between the two sides to the Coffs Harbour International Stadium would be a move in the wrong direction.

Hales, who missed the match between Gimbisi and Sawtell at Kempsey due to illness said letters received from Panthers supporters detailed comments they would never go to the same fixture again due to problems they experienced that day.

It is believed charges have been laid against a Gimbisi spectator who allegedly ran onto the field in the under-18 game and assaulted a Sawtell player.

The Gimbisi club is believed to have given the spectator involved a lifetime ban from the ground and imposed a five year ban on another spectator for a separate incident.

Hales said Gimbisi and Sawtell had agreed to try and work together in the future to build relationships between the two clubs.

"The Group believes there is a certain friction between the two clubs but as far as we are concerned it doesn't involve the players or the clubs but is more an issue concerning a minority group of spectators who aren't doing the right thing," he said.

"Neither club believes they have been responsible for damaging the image of rugby league, an accusation made by the Group president Greg Mayhew.

"Greg seems to believe there is a certain amount of animosity between the two clubs stemming from an incident which occurred last year but I have no idea what he is talking about , we had a mixed reaction as to how we were treated at the meeting on Saturday."

Group 2 President Greg Mayhew believed that the meeting on Saturday was a fruitful one and that the representatives of both clubs "went away happy."

At the meeting all letters of complaint that were sent about the spectator behaviour were read out.

Any tension that may have been present when the meeting started quickly disappeared when Gimbisi Valley President Hector Richie confirmed their club's actions of banning the two members of their club.

"Sawtell were pleased with this and congratulated the Warriors for their actions," Mayhew said.

"So before we really got into the meeting, some of the matters had already been dealt with."

Although both clubs left the meeting amicably enough, Mayhew warned that the Groups management committee was serious about future Sawtell and Gimbisi clashes being played behind closed doors.

"If the animosity between the two parties continues with the printed quotes the management committee will need to meet again," he said. While the issue of crowd behaviour was raised against Gimbisi, Mayhew believes that the problem of crowd control is one that all clubs have to deal with at times.

"All clubs have a minority group of supporters that can create trouble at times," he said.

"There are times I think that all clubs have problems with their supporters.

"At the end of the day the clubs are responsible for the bahaviour of those supporters no matter how much of a minority they may be. "The Group has a code of conduct in place and the clubs must abide by it."