GLUM: Thomas Mills, Gus Roberts, Damon King and Jarred Bloxsom at a club meeting on Tuesday.
GLUM: Thomas Mills, Gus Roberts, Damon King and Jarred Bloxsom at a club meeting on Tuesday. Rhiannon Finger

Change to finals venue leaves Clermont Bears gutted

THE dream of running out in front of a passionate, parochial home crowd, decked out in team colours and cheering wildly, will not come true for Astin Nunan.

The Clermont Junior Bear was shocked to hear of the Central Highlands Junior Rugby League committee's decision to move the grand finals to Dysart this year after a recent under-18 game against the Blackwater Crushers was marred by incidents on and off the field.

Police have confirmed an investigation is under way.

"It (the decision) is just so devastating," Nunan said.

"This is my last year, last chance to play a home grand final with my team and to have it taken away is just horrible."

In past years the grand final locations have worked on a rotation basis and this year the games were to be held in Clermont.

Former junior club president Carolyn Moriarty said the news has devastated the community.

"We had been in the planning for this since it was announced at the Central Highlands AGM, November 2012, we would be hosting the grand finals this year," Moriarty said.

"It was our turn to host the grand finals.

"We were denied natural justice as we never got to defend ourselves before the decision to take the grand final off us was made."

Central Highlands Junior Rugby League president Lynn Bartley explained the finals process, which has been in place for more than 10 years, worked on a rotating basis but stressed it was a privilege, not a right, to host a grand final.

"The CHJRL understands that its decision, which is supported by the QRL Central Division, will disappoint the Clermont community and recognises the rights of Clermont supporters to express their disappointment," she

said.

"The league wishes to point out that it is working with the new Clermont JRLFC president Adam Poulos to address the concerns of the CHJRL clubs."

Poulos said he had every confidence in the processes in place that the issue would be resolved on Sunday at a CHJRL meeting.

"It is hoped that all parties can resolve these issues and move forward with a view to the Clermont JRLFC being considered to host the 2014 Central Highlands Junior Rugby League grand finals, which will be discussed at a meeting being held this Sunday," Bartley said.

Support has been flooding in from Clermont, a town devastated to lose its chance of hosting the prestigious event this year.

Brisbane Easts player, 2007 Central Highlands Player of the Year and former junior and senior Clermont Bears player Clayton Humphreys penned a letter of support.

"Some kids never get to play in a grand final so the closest thing to playing is having one in your home town so you can be a part of the support group for your school mates," he

wrote.

"As a player there is no bigger thrill than a grand final in front of your home crowd on the field where you did all the hard work to make (it there).

"Some kids don't play seniors and even if they do, they never forget their junior glory.

"I can't remember some things I did two weeks ago but there are still grand finals I remember from 15 years ago."

A devastated community member has started a petition to reinstate the grand final at Clermont, with 311 signatures so far.

THE DECISION

  • The decision to strip Clermont of its grand final hosting rights was made on July 14
  • An appeal by Clermont was unsuccessful
  • Three out of four eligible Clermont teams are on track to making their grand finals

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