Hanwood FC has been deprived of making one final push to join the Wagga competition.
Expecting Griffith’s league to shrink further next season, Hanwood had been tirelessly exploring ways it could convince Football Wagga’s clubs to accept it into their competition, after they voted against Hanwood’s proposed move in October.
The Griffith club then continued to explore the possibility of collaborating with Young - which would have quashed the Wagga clubs’ concerns of keeping the number of teams at 10 - but on Wednesday learned that Young had gathered enough local manpower to stand on its own two legs.
It’s a development which has the alarm bells ringing louder than ever at Hanwood HQ, a club which is convinced it will lose more players if forced to squeeze into the diminishing single-tier Griffith competition.
But dejected Hanwood president Anthony Agresta said his club had no other option, with FWW’s local clubs having made up their minds.
“The worst part is that people will miss out on playing,” he said.
“Now I’ll have to have a meeting with our players and tell them our situation.
“You try not to get mad, but at this point...well, it’s getting very, very frustrating.
Agresta has since written to Football NSW, outlining that the club has nowhere to turn and imploring the state’s governing body to step in.
“In every other code, the higher levels of the sport determine which teams play in which competitions,” he said.
“But every season we’re forced to look for competitions to play in.
“That means you have clubs like the Griffith Swans gearing up for their preseason while we don’t even know where we’ll be playing.”
Agresta had previously told The Daily Advertiser his club had no interest in disrupting the existing Wagga competition.
“We don't want to come in at the expense of anyone and we don't want any of the smaller clubs to fade away,” he said.
“We’re just trying to do the right thing by our club and give our players somewhere to play.”
Meanwhile, it’s a very different story for Young, a club which is delighted to have gathered enough players to field two senior teams next season, according to President Paul Cameron.
“We have about 25 players and we’re much further along than we were at this time last year,” he said.
“That means we’ve been able to start preseason training already, which has been fantastic.”