Group 2 crisis over misbehaviour
STRONG measures are needed to curb the escalation of misconduct plaguing the Group 2 rugby league competition, according to members of the public no longer prepared to remain silent.
Prominent Orara Valley sponsor and supporter Terry Crowe believes the upward spiral in players coming before the judiciary and off-field misbehaviour by a handful of patrons has reached crisis point and can't be swept under the carpet any longer.
He is adamant this is the major reason why crowd numbers have collapsed in the past three seasons.
From the first two weeks of the semi-finals, 10 junior and four senior players have been charged with offences.
At least one patron has been escorted from the grounds for shouting racial abuse and the alleged misbehaviour by one first grade player following his dismissal last Sunday prompted immediate complaints to Group 2 management by members of the public.
"There is a general lack of respect in the community, which Group 2 can't be blamed for,"; Crowe said.
"But when the same blokes keep causing trouble time and time again and the Group doesn't get rid of them, they have to take responsibility for people turning their backs on the footy and finding something else to do.
"With the violence on the field and some of the abuse being yelled at referees and others from the sidelines, there's no way you'd want to take your wife and kids any more.";
Crowe said that two years ago he attended a judiciary hearing to give evidence about the behaviour of a player and was still waiting for official advice what action had been taken.
"While this bloke was on the sideline he screamed racist abuse and obscenities at women and kids,"; he said.
"He next kicked a dressing room door off its hinges and I'd like to know if Orara has been compensated for the damage.
"I believe trouble is following him again. I've had a gutful and am speaking out for action to be taken to get rid of people like this.
"The game can't afford to keep making excuses for them and they have to go.
"Over the years I've introduced dozens of new chums by taking them to the football and imagine how it looks when they see something like that?";
Following Sunday's incident two female patrons and a male Nambucca official made strident verbal complaints to Group 2 chairman Greg Mayhew, who requested they make a written submission regarding the circumstances so that the matter could be addressed. It is not known if written complaints have been lodged.
However, sources have told The Coffs Coast Advocate that a deputation from the Nambucca Heads club has had a formal discussion with Group management about what took place from the moment one of the charged players was dismissed by referee Nathan Grace until he arrived in the dressing room.
Meanwhile, the first two of the 14 cases before the judiciary have been settled.
Both charges against one of the Nambucca Heads under-18 players, sent off at Macksville on August 27, have been dismissed after video evidence exonerated him.
One Macleay player has taken an early guilty plea to category 3 charges of running more than 10 metres to become involved in a melee and throwing three or more punches at an opponent. Following discounts he has received a six-match suspension, with two of the matches already served and a formal date for his return to the game next year will be set at the end of the full list of hearings.
Three players were due to face the judiciary board last night with the remainder, including the four charged first graders, to have their cases heard tomorrow evening.