Tolland co-coaches Chris Ayton and Kyle Harrison have sensationally quit after decade-long tenures at the club, following a heated disagreement with president Maurie Hogan and the Wolves’ committee.
Ayton claims his frustration with Tolland stems from the club refusing to stand behind him during a late-season controversy.
When midfielder Bruno Andre’s name was left off the team sheet during Tolland’s preliminary final against Henwood Park in September, the Wolves were ineligible to advance and Ayton subsequently decided to call the game at half-time.
He made the decision despite Hogan’s emotional protests, who implored his players and coaches to play for pride.
More than two months later, the ongoing disagreement has proved to be an irreparable deal-breaker, with both parties appearing keen to move on.
Ayton said the falling out with his long-time club had been a “tough pill to swallow”.
“Having been at the club for 10 years, I’ve poured everything I have into every season,” he said.
“And that’s in terms of both playing and coaching.”
Hogan said he was still holding out hope the two sides could patch up their differences and secure a return for Ayton and Harrison.
“I’m hopeful they’ll be able to see things from our side, even if they don’t agree with it” he said.
“The offer for them to come back still stands.”
But Ayton said he did not consider Hogan’s offer legitimate.
“That’s a lie,” he said.
“They’ve started advertising the coaching job anyway, the writing has been on the wall for a while.”
Hogan said the now infamous preliminary final controversy was not the only factor behind the club’s decision to look for coaches elsewhere.
“Those guys wanted to win a premiership as soon as possible, which meant recruiting players from elsewhere,” he said.
“But we would rather see guys who came through the junior ranks.”
Unsurprisingly, both Ayton and Harrison begged to differ.
“Bai (Fahnbullehh) was the only outside recruit we had, unless you count Marcus (Kpaney), but he was new to football in Wagga anyway” Harrison said.
“So to hear all this stuff is a pretty big kick in the teeth.”
Ayton, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to take a parting shot at Wolves management.
The former Tolland leader said the entire committee needed an overhaul, before slamming their limited vision for the future and “sausage sizzle mentality”.