Magpies aiming for greatness
NOT too many moons ago the Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo rugby league club was on death row.
With the hangman walking down the corridor, a reprieve was delivered with Brad Hart’s signature to coach the Magpies and while the highs and lows since then have caused a hiccup or two, insiders believe a new era of greatness is just around the corner.
Hart’s coaching successor Troy Robinson got the club back to winning form while the third man in the equation, Josh White, took the club to within a converted try of the grand final in 2009.
This season, the Magpies made their first decider since the revival got underway when the under-18s got through to face eventual junior premiers Orara Valley.
White has since handed the reins to Ryan O’Connor and stepped up to become president where he maintains his intention is to be ‘big’ on community involvement.
He wants every resident to identify with the club whether they follow rugby league or not, as a means of building strong community foundations.
To do that, one of his first duties was to add to the list of honours recently bestowed on the man he replaced ... long-time servant Stephen Glyde.
“For many years, one bloke has been the backbone of the Magpies and the constant presence that held us together when it looked like it was all getting too hard and the club might fold,” he said.
“So we discussed a proposal to have the annual award given to the player of the year become known as the Stephen Glyde Medal and starting from 2011, Glydey will present the prize at presentation night.”
White said when sounded out about the proposal, Glyde became a little emotional.
“He was lost for words, very honoured and thankful,” he revealed.
“With him being honoured by Group 2 with life membership it’s only fitting the home club makes this special award to Steve and as a tribute to the Glyde family.
“He contributes not just to rugby league but also many other sports and community groups within the Bellingen Shire and that was the way the family has always done it.”
Bellingen have been active in the off-season with a rush of new signings from outside Group 2 but demands to re-build the grass roots structure have not been ignored.
“I wasn’t happy when reserve grade fell away this year, so to give it full attention, Claud Babbini will stay on as co-coach and be joined by Maurie Hulbert,” White said.
“Maurie is a former first grade coach and has a great depth of knowledge and understanding of how rugby league is played.
“In the juniors, we’re hopeful the trifecta of Greg Darby, Pete Denham and Stu Kelly will stay together and until they know what their plans are for 2011, we’ll keep the job open for them.”
Planning is at an advanced stage for the third Sgt Matthew Locke Memorial game against Australian Army Thunder on February 26 next year and the club is hoping the Group will adopt this match as a ceremonial start to the new season, at least in the northern region.
“We plan to unveil a new playing strip on the day and it will be the start of our new apparel store which will sell merchandise at all home games,” White added.
“I’ve seen the set-up at Coramba whenever Orara play at home and you see that Axemen supporters gear all over the place, it’s everywhere.
“So we’ll follow the lead with a stand at Bellingen Park which will add to the membership drive starting in the New Year.”
White and his committee have bridged closer ties with the junior league arm and are working on strategies with ARL development officer Mike Castle to drive recruitment.
“We must do more at the grass roots level and part of that will be putting the Bello Magpies ‘brand’ front and centre, right across the community.
“Everywhere you look I want to see our presence and I want every person living here to be a proud supporter of the footy club.
“By doing that and working for the hard yards on the paddock, our security will continue building into the future.”