The Bendigo Football Club will cease to exist at VFL level in 2015.
Club president Tim Dickson informed the players and volunteers last night of the board’s decision not to renew its VFL licence at the end of the year.
It may have seemed like an easy decision from an outsider’s perspective when looking at the cold, hard facts.
Since entering the competition as a standalone entity as the Diggers in 1998, the Bendigo Football Club has been devoid of success.
The Diggers only won a handful of games in a couple of seasons before aligning with Essendon and essentially becoming the Bombers reserves.
The Bendigo Bombers reached the finals on a couple of occasions in the mid-2000s before struggling again towards the end of the alignment.
In 2012 it was announced that the partnership between Essendon and Bendigo will end at the conclusion of the season.
Since once again becoming a standalone club, the Gold has failed to win a game.
Ironically, its best performance was just last Sunday when the club fell agonisingly short against the Northern Blues to lose by five points with the last kick of the day.
But football clubs are not just about win-loss records.
They have heart and soul and each club possesses a unique culture.
I wholeheartedly believe that the current Bendigo Football Club has a strong culture.
With the average age of the playing list well below that of other VFL clubs, the playing group is formed by players that wish to get the best out of their abilities.
There are plenty of footballers from within the Bendigo region that could play for Gold but instead choose to chase big money playing for country clubs.
The resilience of not only the playing group, but also the supporters and volunteers, for fighting it out should be commended.
Although I hope to play a few more by season’s end, the reality is that I have only played one game with the Gold.
And yet the fact that I still feel a part of the club is a testament to the welcoming environment created from senior coach Austinn Jones down to the volunteers.
After we learnt of the news and due to the unavailability of the Queen Elizabeth Oval we went for a run down to the park and had a brief kick around there.
We did a couple of simple drills under dimly lit light posts but it was still great fun.
I feel it was a symbolism of the club’s time in the VFL; under resourced, yet still maintaining a positive atmosphere due to unyielding mateship.
The next eight weeks will be a challenging and interesting time for the Gold, but as always, the club will embrace it with unity.
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