AFL Queensland boss lauds heart of the Bears
AUSSIE RULES: Maryborough may have the worst on-field record in the state but you could not find an Aussie rules team in Queensland with more heart or resilience than the Bears.
The Bears are yet to win a game after 16 rounds of the AFL Wide Bay senior competition, and today will return to its Port City Park home ground for the last time this season in what could be a tough day against finals contenders Brothers Bulldogs.
Maryborough's men's team has the worst record out of 27 reserve and senior competitions in Queensland.
No club in Queensland has suffered a bigger defeat (292 points v Hervey Bay Bombers), concedes more points per game (240.47), boasts a bigger average losing margin (220.07 points, the next highest is Gladstone's 135.29 in the AFL Capricornia/Frenchville), or has a worse percentage (8.48%).
But AFL Queensland boss Dean Warren has led the chorus of praise for the AFL Wide Bay battlers, who he said represents all that is good about participation in sport.
"We were looking for an extra senior team in the league, and for the Maryborough guys to take that one, and the amount of resilience, passion and energy they've shown for their footy club, for the league and the benefit of the game, should be commended on that,” Warren said.
"Hopefully they will continue to get stronger. Hopefully a few more players can come in from other areas and we continue to grow the game in Maryborough and rebuild that junior base so we've got more kids coming through to senior level.
"They've been phenomenal, the way they've gone about it. Yes, the scoreboard hasn't been flattering, but I look beyond that and look at the resilience, their passion and their dedication to the club's been excellent. Clearly they are a close-knit group that loves each other's company and love their footy club.
"That's what sport is about. It's not about winning or losing, it is about having that presence in the community. We're committed to trying to help them continue to grow.”
After claiming two straight reserve grade flags, the Bears returned to the senior Aussie rules competition for the first time in a decade this year.
While club officials had hoped to have enough players available to produce a successful season on the field, injuries have ravaged the already under-staffed Maryborough team.
Other AFL Wide Bay members and officials have regularly commended the Bears for their dedication to footy, and opposition coaches have praised the players for toughing out the year.
The Bears were forced to forfeit one game due to injuries and a clash with basketball finals. They played every other week, and players have had to play both reserve and senior games.
The Bears play the Bulldogs in their last home games of the season today. Reserves at 1pm and seniors at 3pm.
AFL Wide Bay's battlers
Lost by 200+ points 12 times
Biggest defeat in Queensland
Worst defence (240.47ppg)
Biggest losing margin (220.07)
Worst percentage (848%)
Fifth-worst attack (20.40ppg)
Biggest heart: the Bears have played all but one game this year, and have won respect and praise from officials for their dedication.