MERGING two of Grafton's top soccer clubs to chase premier league glory has generated success off the field. Now it's up to the players to duplicate it on the pitch.
On December 7 the senior South Services Gunners and Grafton City football clubs dissolved to form Grafton United Football Club.
The club will play in the North Coast Football competitions, ranging from men's premier league to under-15s. It will field teams in men's and women's competitions.
Club registrar Shanon Tough said the merged club was off to a flying start financially, signing a major sponsorship deal with the Australian Hotel in South Grafton.
Tough said the new club had also signed another significant deal with local design and apparel firms owned by Kye McPherson, from Kye Art and Grafton City Screenprinting and Design.
"We've also got 12 minor sponsors signed who will each contribute $500 to the club," he said.
Tough said the meeting elected Tim Keogh as club president, with Mandy Atkinson his secretary and Ant Van Haren as treasurer.
The director of coaching is Trent Cruickshank, but the new club is yet to appoint a premier league coach.
Tough said the new club would appoint a coach early in the new year when it would also hold a recruitment drive.
He said the aim of forming a third premier league team for the Clarence Valley was to turn around a player drain from the two foundation clubs.
"We were finding we developed players but as they started to show promise, they would leave for other clubs which have premier league teams," Tough said.
"Sometimes players as young as 12 were leaving us for Westlawn (Tigers) or Maclean (Bobcats)."
He did not expect to see the new team achieve success in premier league straight away, but believed there is enough talent coming through to make it a force in a short time.
The two senior clubs have merged, but the South Services Gunners and Grafton City football clubs will continue as junior clubs.
Between the two organisations they will give the senior club access to a talent pool of about 450 players.
"Our aim is to develop a successful senior team from players we bring up through juniors," he said.
Tough said the new club would welcome back players who had left to join other clubs, but had no aims to lure players from other teams.
"We don't want to poach players; we believe we will have enough talent from our juniors," he said.
"But we do have vacancies for people to join the committee and other jobs around the club."
He said the club's development program would include accredited coaches for all grades.
Grafton United teams will begin training on January 6 with men's and women's teams from under-15s up.
He said the club had a trial against Murwillumbah in premier league for January 21 and plans for a six-a-side carnival some time in the new year.
"Registrations will begin from January 6 or players can sign up online on myfootballclub.com.au," Tough said.
"There's also a big winter sport sign-up day at Bunnings some time early next year. They had it for last season and it was really well done."
GRAFTON UNITED CLUB EXECUTIVE
- President: Tim Keogh
- Secretary: Mandy Atkinson
- Treasurer: Ant Van Haren
- Vice president: Kieran Shanley
- Registrar: Shanon Tough
- Director of coaching: Trent Cruickshank