Future of North East Football Union uncertain

The Winnaleah Football Club celebrating a grand final win.

The Winnaleah Football Club celebrating a grand final win.

North-East footballers and their families fear for the future of their century-old football union which hangs in the balance, as two teams contemplate leaving the four-club league. 

The North East Football Union has been in a precarious position for a number of years, with Lilydale, Ringarooma, and Branxholm over time leaving the union.

The teams, which consist of seniors, reserves, under-16s and under-12s, are made up of Bridport, St Helens, Winnaleah, and the Scottsdale Crows.    

It is understood that Bridport are contemplating leaving to join the Northern Tasmanian Football Association, while St Helens president Michael Richards said his team has been left with “no choice” but to apply.

“We can’t recruit because no one wants to play in a four-team competition,” he said. 

“The decision was made by the union that all four clubs could apply to the NTFA if they wish to.” 

NEFU president Kirk Wagner said was he was concerned families of junior footballers would have difficulty affording the cost of travel if they have to join the Northern Tasmanian Junior Football Association.

“There’s a lot of parents who work hard on their family farms in this area and in the North East, and those guys can’t afford to have two days off a weekend,” he said.

”They’re not gone yet, there’s always something we can do. We’re still talking to them going forward and if they don’t get accepted into the NTFA, they’re always welcome back.”

Winnaleah footballer Jacob Kerr, 15, said he and his mates were worried about the future of country football.

“Things are looking dire for our union, due to the hierarchy of us letting the families of the North East down, and the people being so unaware they can’t stand up,” he said. 

Mr Wagner said when the union has its AGM in November it will discuss options for the future.

NTJFA president Dale Fraser said he had not spoken to any teams about joining, and that other teams further out, including a separate Scottsdale team and Deloraine, had not experienced problems with travel. 

NTFA president Ian Morrison said the organisation was working with the NEFU to assist them. 

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