GOOD BYE: Gympie celebrates winning this year's AFL Wide Bay premiership. Now they are gone.
GOOD BYE: Gympie celebrates winning this year's AFL Wide Bay premiership. Now they are gone. Matthew McInerney

Cats out, but there are still positives for AFL Wide Bay

OPINION: The Gympie Cats leaving AFL Wide Bay might be disappointing but in the long run the competition will still be fine.

It might allow AFL Wide Bay to finally find its identity.

The competition is down to five teams after the Cats won an appeal to move into the division 3 Sunshine Coast competition in the Queensland Football Association.

The win allowed Gympie to move next year instead of in 2020 when they were going to leave anyway.

The club cited travel as one of the options of leaving with most players based south of the city, which is fair enough and I don't envy them travelling two hours plus every second week.

It's sad that the defending premier is not going to be there but it might now allow AFL Wide Bay to finally move on from the Sunshine Coast.

The past few years has seen AFL Wide Bay firstly play Sunshine Coast teams every couple of weeks when they were incorporated into the competition in 2017.

This lasted one year before both competitions split again.

Gympie, combined with Pomona, played in this year's competition and while they were successful the trips took their toll on the club as demonstrated by the move to closer ties with Sunshine Coast.

Bundaberg clubs weren't that keen on the idea of playing on the Sunshine Coast either and struggled this year in particular with the road trip to Gympie.

The two sides lost all four matches at Six Mile Oval and struggled to field full sides for the contest.

Moving back to an all AFL Wide Bay competition might be a good thing for the five clubs involved.

All four clubs in Hervey Bay and Bundaberg are strong, highlighted by the closeness in the competition these past two years. The competition is also better placed than a few years ago with Maryborough returning to seniors.

The Bears might not have won a game, but to see them back and fighting to play again next year show signs they are committed to the cause.

Then there is the scope for new teams as shown by the new Moore Park Beach team that will hold a forum to see if people are interested in a club being formed there.

There are other areas that have been talked about as well.

The decision for Gympie to leave could provide the strengthening of the competition AFL Wide Bay needs in a smaller radius.

Shane Jones