OFFICALS at Prospect Knights have described as ‘‘horrible’’ the decision to go into recess after more than half a century playing soccer in Launceston.
Just four years after winning the Northern Premier League title, the Harley Parade club said its hand was forced by lack of playing numbers and dwindling finances.
Life member and former president Marco La Palombara blamed a combination of the impact of the Victory League and having to share the Prospect Park facilities.
‘‘We did not have enough players and the funding was not there so we had to make a horrible decision,’’ he said.
‘‘The introduction of the V-League took more players away from individual clubs. They wanted to play at a higher level, and you wouldn’t want to stop that, but it made it difficult to field three men’s teams which we were required to do.
‘‘Sharing facilities with the AFL also made it very difficult to get players together after training and games and that effects the funding and money stream. We were the only club that really had to share and we could not beat the AFL monster.
‘‘We were just a victim of circumstance.’’
Founded by Croatian migrants in 1959, Launceston Croatia Soccer Club merged with fellow Premier League club Western Suburbs in 1997 to become Western Knights and subsequently Prospect Knights in 2007.
Four years later it enjoyed its most successful season, claiming a maiden NPL crown with captain Mark Baker also becoming the first player since Peter Brookes in the mid-80s to win the league’s best and fairest award the George Dale Medal.
La Palombara said the Knights have tried to create a pathway for players to progress with other clubs and would be maintaining its junior club, the Southern Raiders, in which players from under-eights to under-16s compete in the Northern Tasmanian Junior Soccer Association competitions at Churchill Park.
‘‘We were very mindful to retain the junior club at Prospect Park and bequeathed most of our equipment to them,’’ he said.
‘‘We talked to a lot of the old fellas and life members and they could see that the decision was inevitable. They understood the situation. It’s sad, but that’s just the way it is.’’
La Palombara was not convinced that the statewide V-League, which involves eight sides, including Launceston City, Northern Rangers and Devonport from the North, represented the best long-term option for soccer in the state.
‘‘I’m not sure it’s the answer. They tried this 25 years ago and it did not last. It’s hugely expensive and I’m not sure how long they can sustain it.’’
The withdrawal of Prospect leaves the NPL with eight teams: Launceston United, Launceston City, Riverside and Northern Rangers plus coastal outfits Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie and Somerset.