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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Team of the year: made in Eureka

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Between them they can cure your ills and your pets, build you a house and a computer, put a champion chook in your eco chicken coop in the ‘right’ part of town, teach your children and make sure that everyone is safe and happy while it the happens.

This eclectic mix of men has somehow managed to come from a position of second last in the far north coast senior men’s sixth division football competition two years ago, to taking out the minor premiership and championship in 2012

The Eureka senior men’s side are a self-managed team with no designated coach, but the struggle hasn’t all been about football. The club gets very little in the way of any support physical or financial. ‘We are a small regional club who do not receive any financial support from council, or any other sporting or government body,’ says president James Mayson. ‘Council used to be responsible for maintenance of the grounds; however, as the grounds are held in trust by the the Lands Dept, they no longer come under council’s strict jurisdiction.’

James Mayson says that as part of the fiscal belt tightening, council does not take responsibility for areas that are not owned by them and now the club have to fend for themselves. ‘It must be said that they did begrudgingly come out and mark the grounds at the beginning of last season, gave it an initial cut after many requests – so we are thankful for that. Again my understanding is that many of the other clubs grounds are owned by council so come under their maintenance schedule and there may be some fees involved with that. But we can’t even access that service as our grounds are held under trust by the Lands Dept.’

What this all means is for the boys to play football they are looking after the grounds themselves. ‘Maintenance of the grounds essentially means the weekly and fortnightly routines of mowing and snipping around the entire fields. From early February this year, a group of us used to rock up with a rag-tag flotilla of ride-on mowers. When we finished we’d throw on our boots and have a kick around.’

Mayson says towards the middle of the season the players just weren’t getting it done sufficiently enough, so local contractor Fast Eddie did them a good deal and helped out. ‘There is always the ongoing repair work to be done,’ says James. ‘This season we had to pay for a number of deliveries such as sand and water to help with patching. After the belting wet season we had at the beginning of the year, our grounds took a massive hiding. Bigger jobs that most of the larger clubs do at the end of each season such as top dressing, fertilising, de-thatching or ‘coring’ are simply beyond our budget. We really do only have one light pole that’s a stretch from the main field, so when we practise at night, there’s just one small area partially illuminated that throws 10 metre long shadows as we play on it.’

On top of this the boys help manage the other side of the club, which includes being responsible for running a club of 11 teams, themselves and ten junior teams with a total of 106 members.

As they are in the middle of nowhere, there are no local businesses that ask for sponsorship to boost funds. ‘The fact that we’re not even in a town means we have to do a fair bit of leg work to attract our members, or at least let people know that this is their local club. Federal Store do provide us an account and the Clunes butcher gives us a discounted rate, but it’s not the same as a sponsor who helps pay for fees, uniforms, balls, equipment and capital investments.’

Still the lads are determined and they were rewarded last week when they swapped Blundstones for swanky suits and headed to Sydney for the annual Australian Football Awards last Wednesday where they picked up the award for Senior Team of the Year. ‘The announcement of Eureka’s Men’s 6th Division team as the Football Federation Australia Team of the Year is a fantastic recognition for the team and our local area,’ says Steve Mackney, Football Far North Coast general manager. ‘The team epitomises spirit, enjoyment and community and I am delighted that the FFA has determined Eureka to be a most worthy winner this year.’

‘In order to survive, we have to do all of this ourselves,’ says James. ‘Like a lot of clubs we depend on volunteers, as well as fundraising to pay for equipment, jerseys etc. Our canteen is highly regarded amongst other local clubs – we always have lots of home-baked goodies for sale; it’s where we make our money. We’re not impoverished and we’re not a club that is tackling social disadvantage or special needs, but it is amazing that, despite these little obstacles, we have such a spirited little club, full of happy kids and adults who understand what it takes to keep us all playing the game we love. Out of every community club, big and little in the country, we produced this year’s Football Federation’s Team of the Year. Gotta be happy with that!’


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