Axe to fall on Orara Valley club unless there's support

GROUP 2 Rugby League's Orara Valley Axemen are in danger of folding in 2020, with a crisis meeting called in a last ditch bid to save the club's season. 

It an SOS to the club faithful, committee members who care deeply about the club have raised their concerns over the club's future. 

Club president Peter Spinks has called the crisis meeting on Sunday at the Coramba Sports Ground at 3pm.

This coming together is to discuss the future of the club in the 2020 season.

Head coach Willy Lockwood has recently stepped down from the helm, citing a lack of player commitment and low attendance at training sessions in the seniors ranks. 

"If the club is unable to secure a first grade player base, then we will be in a dire position as a club and unable to enter the 2020 Group 2 competition," Spinks said. 

"This will result in players that have committed to the Axemen for the 2020 season in other grades, seeking other clubs to allow them game time.

STICKING TOGETHER: The Orara Valley Axemen took part in a fantastic show of sportsmanship and camaraderie against the Grafton Ghosts on the weekend.
The Orara Valley Axemen of 2019 gave their all with some players lining up in first grade after playing reserve grade. Orara Valley Axemen

"A dilution of players in the junior ranks (under 18's) and other competing clubs in Group 2 NSWRL, who are in a better financial position and are more enticing to players, has had an impact on the decline of player numbers of the Orara Valley Axemen.

He said it's critical the club is transparent with the members, players and the public 'because if people weren't aware of the problem then it can't be fixed'.

AXEMEN BRAINSTRUST: Club president Peter Spinks and coach Col Speed watch the action against the Sawtell Panthers. Group 2 rugby league 27 May 2018 Coramba Sportsground Photo: Brad Greenshields
Club president Peter Spinks. Brad Greenshields

"The reality is, if we cannot secure players and a head coach for the 2020 season the Orara Valley Axemen simply cannot remain in the Group 2 NSWRL competition," Spinks said. 

"We understand we are in trouble and we appreciate any support we are given.

"We are not going to sit back and expect anyone to solve our problems for us, but are reaching out to Group 2 and NSWRL at present, as well as past and current players, old committee members, local businesses and the general public to rally behind the club.

Last season's club president Joe McMenemy said bush footy has changed over the years, to how it was "back in the day".  

"The Axemen was a competitive club. It was very tribal," McMenemy said.  

"You played where you lived, where your mates were and you tended to stay with one club for the duration of that time. 

"These days players are attracted by money.

"If one player leaves to secure a deal at a different club, his mates will shortly follow and your left to rebuild a squad. Something the Axemen have had to do time and time again.

The committee said it would be a sad decision for the club if the Axemen were to take the year off, as this would be a first since the club reformed in 1983. 

Committee member, and ex-player Rikki Cetinich said the community loves what the game brings to the valley, watching players thrive on the field and at training and what they get out of it as well.

"It is the family and community aspect," Cetinich said. 

"It is where we have made our closest friends.

"We just hope that we as a committee can rebuild for the 2021 season & to secure enough sponsors to make the club more financial to attract players".

To find out more about the meeting or to help out call club secretary Katie Fletcher on 0473 794 677 or email ovarlfcsecretary@gmail.com