It's not cricket

THREE days out from the start of Coffs Harbour's 2009-2010 summer of cricket and the competition has suffered a major casualty.

Northern Districts Rebels' departure doesn't just mean the first-grade draw is back to six teams but with no lower grades now based in Woolgoolga, budding local talent will be forced to travel out of town for a game.

Loyal club man Steve Thandi explained his committee had been 'gutted' by many futile attempts to put teams on the park.

“We've known prospects weren't bright for a while but kept advertising training sessions in hope extra players would arrive,” he said.

“At a meeting last Saturday it was found we only had seven first graders ready to go with nobody to back them up and while the boys said they'd be happy to drop back to second grade, that didn't fix the problem of finding another six or seven blokes to make a viable team.

“Mate, pulling out leaves us gutted after doing the hard yards to complete one of the best cricket ground facilities available locally.”

Soccer will continue to use the High Street ground but the turf wicket, nets and sight screens won't be witnessing the crack of leather on willow this summer.

In retrospect, two seasons back in top level cricket provided the full range of emotions for the Rebels.

After making the grand final at their first attempt in 2007-08, last season became a roller-coaster ride and while they were never totally out of contention, the club missed the play-offs after a series of disappointments.

“With two games to go, against all odds we were still a chance of finishing second ... but it wasn't to be,” Thandi lamented.

“In that second season we got no free chances with the weather, one disaster followed another but we did bloody well to finish just out of the placings.

“Our sponsors are still loyal, we're grateful the media has stuck with us and maybe, in a year's time there'll be enough interest for us to get back to where we'd like to be.”

Thandi said the club will go into recess and while it's still incorporated, the committee will continue to promote the game despite all the playing equipment being locked away.

“All the players' fees are up to date, so free clearances have been issued and we wish them all the best,” he said.

“As to where they will go, I have no idea but what causes the most pain is seeing locals not being able to play where they live.

“That's the real shame in all this.”

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