Council urges community to support the Seagulls

COUNCIL has urged the community to rally behind the embattled Hervey Bay Seagulls.

Fraser Coast mayor George Seymour, councillor Stuart Taylor and CEO Ken Diehm attended the rugby league's emergency meeting on Thursday night, which Seagulls president Jim Russell described as a "positive" meeting.

Russell said no final decision was made in regards to the club's participation in junior or senior competitions next year, and the Seagulls will seek further professional advice.

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"Let me assure everyone that it is the Seagulls' aim to have both junior and senior teams playing in their respective competitions next year," Russell said.

Cr Taylor, who has significant experience in governance and is currently the Football Queensland Wide Bay president, and Mr Diehm have offered their personal time to help the club get back on its feet after hearing the extent of the issues at the meeting.

"The Hervey Bay Seagulls are an iconic team with a wonderful history and now is the time for the community to rally behind them," Cr Seymour said.

"The fact the Seagulls are in danger of not fielding teams in 2019 is extremely concerning, and we as a community can't allow this to happen.

"The club needs the support of local businesses and I am encouraging Hervey Bay businesses to get behind the Seagulls by becoming sponsors or offering other in kind support.

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"Playing sport is a fantastic social activity that helps keep us fit, active and healthy. Without the Seagulls, many children will be denied the opportunity to play the sport they love, to form friendships and learn the importance of being part of a team."It was clear at last night's meeting that the Seagulls are facing serious financial hardship, but they are developing a plan to ensure both senior and junior teams can run on to the paddock in 2019.

"It is no doubt the club faces a difficult road ahead, but with support from the community and the right plan in place, it's hoped the Seagulls can bounce back stronger than ever."

The emergency meeting was called after the Chronicle revealed the sad and sorry state of the Seagulls' financial woes.

A six-figure debt has crippled the proud club, which has been home to some of the biggest names in rugby league.

The late BRL chairman Mal Breen, credited with saving local rugby league, captained the Seagulls to its first premiership in 1974 and the list of captains in the 44 years since includes local legends like former Queensland and Australian second-rower Dennis Manteit, Wayne Rasmussen, Mark Jamieson, Terry Lynch, Rod McGrath and Terry Horne.

Current Bulldogs coach Dean Pay captain-coached the Seagulls to a Group 1 premiership in 2001, the club's last title before the Tye Ingebrigtsen-led Seagulls won the BRL premiership in 2016.

Life member Terry Lynch, who dedicated decades to the Seagulls and was on the committee in 2016, could not believe how seriously bad - and how quickly - things the club's fortunes had turned.

Ingebrigtsen, who will coach in Mackay next year, was similarly disappointed.

The general meeting scheduled for Stafford Park on Thursday evening turned into a loud rally cry for supporters of the club to help determine the future of the Seagulls, which has been thrown into question after a tumultuous year.

An apology addressed to members, players, parents and sponsors was posted on the club's Facebook page on Wednesday, a message which included a call-to-arms for Seagulls supporters.

On Tuesday, the Chronicle revealed officials from the Seagulls, BRL and QRL's Central Division met at Seagulls headquarters, Torquay's Stafford Park, on Monday to hold crisis talks.

The Seagulls are in serious danger of not participating in the BRL in 2019.

The club remains unaffiliated and without a competition in which to play just months out from the start of the new season. A late audit meant its first scheduled AGM was declared invalid, which left the Seagulls without a voice at the BRL's annual general meeting in early November.