Inverell Hawks fans saw the 2011 premiership, the 2014 grand final appearance and back to back wins in 2015 and 2016. So, when the club completely withdrew from this season's competition citing a lack of players, it left many club stalwarts wondering why (and absolutely appalled at the prospect of Tingha Tigers training on those hallowed grounds of Varley Oval).
The second grade competition is probably going to hurt Inverell more than anyone.Terry Carson, president Group 19
Group 19 president Terry Carson said the Hawks withdrawal left a great deal of work to be done before this season commenced, if its competitions were to run as smoothly as he hoped they would.
"Losing Inverell was a bit of a surprise to us. At the moment we're still putting a plan together for what it is going to look like. It's a little bit disappointing," Carson said.
"There's are a lot of clubs over that way. There's Tingha, Bingara, Bundarra, Ashford Warialda. They're all within a half-hour, forty-five minutes of each other, so it gives the players a lot of choice where they can go.
"The second grade competition is probably going to hurt Inverell more than anyone. Looking at it now, it's not going to effect the Moree clubs at all [and] it's not going to effect the Armidale clubs."
Carson said while players returning to second grade in their home town was part of the Hawks' problem, there were also players who simply did not want to play for the club and he thought it could be good for it to be sidelined for a couple of years.
"Sometimes sitting out for a year can help a club rebuild and start over again, which may be the case for them, who knows? I know they struggled big time to get a committee together, so ..."
"We haven't had much communication from them at all. We wanted to work with them and get something going, but I think they've just made the call. You probably can't blame them for that."
I was told we are missing 13 A-graders from last year's squad ...Garry Lavender
Stalwart Hawks supporter and outgoing club president Garry Lavender said he had stepped back from committee duties because his family time and business commitments were suffering.
He listed the same second grade clubs surrounding Inverell as Carson, and said they were the main cause of the club's lack of senior players this season.
"I was told we are missing 13 A-graders from last year's squad and that 10 have gone to second grade clubs, and Alex McCosker retired (and he's had a great career with the Hawks too). So, that's the crux of it," he said.
"We've just got too many second grade clubs around us all drawing from one town, and the well runs dry sooner or later. I'm thinking Group 19 has just gone like Group 4. That's my opinion."
The Inverell Hawks hold their meeting tonight, so there will be more on this issue tomorrow.