THE wheel has come full circle for incoming Coffs League Club chairman Warren Gilkinson.
One of the original players, who gave up match payments for two years and laboured on building the complex, Gilkinson was elected this week to the top job in the organisation.
He replaces Greg Spence, who stood down after 15 years on the board of directors, including the last seven as chairman.
Gilkinson’s new role is of course in addition to his “other job” of coaching the first-grade rugby league team, which a few weeks ago made its first grand final appearance since 1997.
“When I attended the meeting it still wasn’t certain I’d be standing for the job, but when there were no other nominations for Spencey’s position, I was happy for my name to go forward,” Gilkinson said.
“As somebody who’s been there since the day ‘dot’, there was no way I was going to sit by and let the place slide away while there was anything I could do to help.”
Earlier this year the club found itself facing a difficult future, following a failed merger with Club Coffs and the decision by chairman Spence and long-serving secretary-manager Roy Dunn to step down from their positions.
It can be revealed now that a conflict with regard to nominations for board positions has rocked all levels of the organisation in recent weeks, leading to the sudden departure of an elected football official.
Fireworks were expected at this week’s annual meeting but the incoming chairman said he was pleasantly surprised at the smoothness of the elections.
Mark Thomas and Peter Lee are the vice-presidents but there is still no replacement for Dunn – the treasurer’s position remains vacant and only two of the five board positions were filled.
Dunn told the Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday he was prepared to delay his departure until the end of the month to give the incoming board time to find a replacement.
In recent weeks a senior member of the Group 2 executive, with extensive liquor industry experience and no previous formal connection to the Coffs Harbour league operation, has been mentioned as a possible successor.
However, he confirmed that at this stage he had fielded only a “social call” to discuss his availability for the position and that no firm offer had been made.
Gilkinson said there were sufficient numbers for a quorum to keep the club operating.
“Two prospective directors are out of town and I’m confident of their acceptance when they return,” he said.
“Finding someone to do Roy’s job is a priority and I feel we have to consider new ways to operate the business.
“I think we have to share some of the jobs around more evenly.
“And while I know the difficulties involved, I feel it’s essential the club trades for longer hours and we use contacts to chase more activities for the complex.”
He agreed missing out on hosting rights for last week’s Masters of Rugby League tournament was unfortunate and said this was the type of function the club should always be bidding for.
“Even if we have to get into the sponsorship business, you have to speculate to accumulate,” he said.
“There are lots of things to be done in the next few months.
“While it won’t be easy, I’m positive we’re going forward again.”