League comeback: The plan for Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies to play matches in Dorrigo looks like finally coming to fruition.
League comeback: The plan for Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies to play matches in Dorrigo looks like finally coming to fruition.

First grade league to make return

FIRST grade rugby league will return to Dorrigo in 2011 after a break of almost four decades.

The Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies intend to play a rare trial on the plateau against either Armidale or Glen Innes as part of new strategies to revitalise the club.

While the exact date is still to be determined, club president Josh White said paying homage to the green colour strip added to the famous black and white jumper last decade, is long overdue.

“It’s before my time but I’m told matches were planned at Dorrigo when the club’s name was changed in the 1990s to include them but it didn’t happen, although some training sessions have occurred,” he said.

“At a coaches meeting we decided to hold a trial there and plans are under way to make this game special and to be an annual game up the mountain everyone will remember.”

If it’s a success, it’s been suggested a competition round be played there in 2012 against Orara Valley or Nambucca Heads, as part of a league promotion and centrepiece of a recruitment drive.

Club stalwart and Dorrigo local, Trevor Neaves, believes the last first grade match was played in Dorrigo around 1973 before lack of numbers saw the club fold.

“I was playing for Nambucca Heads that year and my brother Kevin was in the Dorrigo side when we played on the old showground field,” he recalled.

“The locals played in green jerseys with a yellow ‘V’ and I remember Kevin and myself revving each other up in the match.

“We all enjoyed our footy, they were great days and I’m pleased the club is bringing the game back here and it should get a big roll-up.”

With the showground field long gone, Rowe Oval will be the venue of league’s comeback.

“Players will find the ground fairly soft at that time of year which will be different to the hard surface they are used to down on the coast at the end of summer,” Neaves said.

“Cricket is the major game played there now but we have the occasional high school game of league and Greg Darby likes to get the Bellingen junior league club to have a run here whenever he can.”

Providing cricket commitments allow, the generational change will occur with young Ben Neaves – son of Trevor – a rising backline star with the Magpies, likely to take the field.

Meanwhile, the club will start official training next Monday from 6pm at Bellingen High School gymnasium where the players will start weights training under the supervision of Peter Denham.

Incoming captain-coach Ryan O’Connor held another meeting with players last Wednesday and revealed an additional three new signings are about to be announced.

The committee has grown in numbers and is preparing to launch a newly-constructed website so all supporters can keep up to date with scores and information from the “Graveyard”.



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