“Devastating” and “shattering” were the words player Andrew Hooper used to describe the feeling among the players and staff at North Ballarat Roosters on hearing they would not be playing in the VFL next year.
Hooper found out about AFL Victoria’s decision to not renew the Roosters’ VFL licence in a phone message from coach Marc Greig while he was at work at Ballarat Specialist School.
“I’m feeling absolutely devastated, gutted, but I think the main one is really angry,” he said.
“It has been an unstable club for two or three years, since Fitzy (former coach Gerard FitzGerald) has been gone. It’s pretty disappointing… and this is the end result.”
Hooper said as a player it had been hard to compete and perform every week with “all the drama” which had been going on around the club.
The Roosters had just the one win this season and finished on the bottom of the ladder after three wins last year.
Hooper said he did not know where Thursday’s decision left him or his teammates.
“We’ve got eight to 10 contracted players for next year. What does it mean for them and how does it work them getting out of the contract?
“We’re going to have to have a meeting in the next week or so and try to work out what they want to do.”
Hooper said while Frankston managed to return to the competition after a year’s absence, he imagined it would be a lot more difficult for a country side.
“There is always a positive and hopefully we can go ahead but you never know,” he said.
“Having a year out, it’s going to be hard to get back to VFL level if the players go back to local footy. There is a big difference between local footy and VFL level.”
Hooper said the decision was also “shattering” for the football pathways in Ballarat after a great relationship was established between the Roosters and the Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
“The young players coming through, such as the Rebels, they’ve got no pathway, they have nothing after that,” he said.
“If they don’t get drafted, they’ve got nowhere to go. We want to get them to play at the highest level for as long as they can to create their dream, it’s going to be hard.”
Hooper said he felt for the club’s life members.
“All of a sudden we don’t have a VFL side anymore, that’s the devastating part,” Hooper said.
“We’re feeling angry and that but what are the life members feeling after what they’ve seen (in the past) and what they know now with where the club is at?”