Photo:  Bill Shackcloth, president of New Town Eagles, was bitterly disappointed [PlessPix]

New Town Eagles and Clarence United are shock omissions from next year’s proposed Victory League, especially give their on-field successes in recent seasons.

New Town Eagles are currently second on the Forestry Tasmania Southern Premier League ladder and Clarence are third.

Eagles have a reasonable chance of taking out the league title this year and they meet leaders South Hobart next Sunday in a game that may well determine the destination of the title.

Although current on-field performance was not a criterion for selection, it does seem odd that two well-performing teams in terms of results and league position have been excluded.

In other words, two of the strongest teams in the State (note that I say ‘teams’ and not ‘clubs’) won’t be participating in the top flight.

And surely, ultimately, it’s what a team does on the field that is important in terms of producing a high standard of play that fans want to come and watch.

I spoke to the presidents of New Town Eagles and Clarence United to ascertain their feelings about their omission.

“We are bitterly disappointed,” said Bill Shackcloth, president of New Town Eagles.  “It came as a real shock to us.

“We had every belief that we’d done everything that was required.  We had our meeting, as every other club did, after the applications were submitted  -  that was back in May.

“They [FFT] didn’t seem to have any issues or concerns.  We didn’t have any issues, concerns and were of the belief that we were more than likely a prospect to get in there.

“What I’ve done since Friday, I’ve sent an email to the FFT asking them for a copy of the report.  Not that we’re looking to appeal or do anything like that because I don’t think there is any provision, but simply as a case of finding out where we were deemed to be deficient so that we can take steps to redress that.

“I mean, we don’t believe that necessarily all the clubs that have been invited will accept, and even if they do, that they will survive, so we need to position ourselves to be ready to step into any gap that arises.

“We had a meeting on Friday night after the announcement and I said to the players then that the focus should be the next six, seven weeks, exactly what it was back in November when we set out our goals for the year.

“Let’s do that and remain tight as a playing group.  If, beyond that, players decide that they want to go, I’ll understand that.  But, the feedback I got from that meeting was that, despite a couple of them already having had some approaches, no-one was prepared to move.”


Photo:  Clarence United president Phil Randall (left) and senior coach Ronnie Bolton [PlessPix]

Phil Randall, the president of Clarence United, was also shocked.

“Ah, yeah, personally devastated,” Randall said.  “Yeah.  We’re really disappointed that we didn’t make it.

“Obviously, we need to wait for our formal feedback from the FFT Board to see where our application was deficient.

“Then we need to build that into our strategic plan and, obviously, in the next three years hope to get ourselves into a spot where we’re an automatic selection to join the top-flight league in three years’ time.”

Randall said there was a possibility that some players would leave the club.

“That’s their decision,” he said.  “I would love for most of our senior players to stay with us and help us get back to where I think we should be, but our philosophy is that it’s their game and their choice and we won’t be begrudging any players who wish to play at the higher level and want to try their luck at another club come next season.”