Club left 'shattered' after being forced out
FOOTBALL: The Central Queensland League has been rocked with the surprising withdrawal of one of their competition's linchpins.
The Emerald Eagles made the shattering decision to pull the pin on the 2017 season citing a lack of numbers as the main reason behind the withdrawal.
For five seasons the Eagles competed hard across both Premier and Second division, often asking players to play two games across one day.
With difficult mining rosters making up the core of the squad and one third of the side leaving town, they had no choice but to call it quits.
"We lost at least a third of players from last year's squad, good players too. At least five of those were Premiers," club captain Glenn Gilmour explained.
"It is sad. We have a couple of really good kids who are coming through and it is the hardest for them. We will do every bit to ensure they aren't lost to the game.
"It is disappointing not to have a representative from Central West. The rosters don't help, generally they are all unavailable at the same time."
The Eagles still harbour hopes of re-joining the competition in 2018 and will now focus on establishing a quality local league.
"We are going to look at getting the Central Highlands league going again. Follow a community league model and hope to get four teams," he said.
"Then use that as the building blocks to get back into CQ.
"I did the maths. Over the five years we have 200 players come and go and each year we do 6,000 kms home and away.
"When you have 11 players playing 180 minutes, it does get a bit much.
"We were able to field one team for either Prems or Seconds but two was a stretch."
For now, FCQ will revert back to a 21 round draw meaning less byes for each team.
Rockhampton Football Manager Jim Douglas said it was a sad to lose any club and said it highlighted a real issue in the zone.
"It is disappointing to be losing Emerald from this year's Premier League but I think the club has made the right decision," Douglas said.
"Playing away across our large zone and having to find a squad of 25 plus players to commit to a whole season of travelling is difficult enough for local clubs let alone one several hours away.
"Perhaps it is an opportunity for our governing body to be reconsidering the structure of our zones so we can find easier ways to enable the outlying centres play games against one another and better develop the game.
"Hopefully they can construct some kind of social comp to keep players in the game at least and try and build for next season."
Douglas said the competition would welcome the Eagles with open arms if they re-grouped for 2018.
"If Emerald can re-group for next year we would love to have them back in the competition," he said.
"They did well last year and have started to build some good players. They just can't keep enough of them around with downturns in employment especially challenging.
"With a bit of luck we may see another team enter the Premier League in 2018 and we end up with a 10 team competition."