Why ‘shattered’ Coolum had to pull pin on campaign
After enjoying a fruitful start to the year, club secretary Elyse Duffy says it was "absolutely shattering" for Coolum to have to withdraw from the premier men's competition.
The Dolphins officially pulled the pin on their 2020 campaign last Wednesday, following a meeting with the Sunshine Coast Football board.
It came after the club were dealt some tough COVID-19 inflicted blows, with a lack of numbers and quality impacting on results.
"We started our pre-season looking pretty good and we had better numbers than we've ever had before, or at least in recent years ... and then COVID hit," Duffy said.
"A lot of our players were living in Australia but from overseas and a good portion of them had to return home during the pandemic.
"Then another portion lost their jobs and had to move out west to work on farms and stuff like that to get through this period.
"We had 11 deregistration requests just from the premier men team alone."
They regathered and under coach Ian Runcie were able to get their season underway post-COVID but it wasn't long before they took another hit.
"Our injuries have just been through the roof," Duffy said.
"We've had broken ribs, punctured lungs and hamstrings and I cannot begin to go on about our injury list.
"Most weeks we were struggling to get 13 players between two teams (premier men and reserves)."
Duffy said it was a "double whammy" they struggled to bounce back from, suffering some heavy defeats including 6-0, 8-1, 7-0 and 10-0 losses to Noosa, Maroochydore, Caloundra and Beerwah Glasshouse respectively over the past month.
On top of that, head coach Runcie was forced to step down from his role a couple rounds in due to health concerns.
"It's (withdrawing) absolutely shattering for the club and it's going to be so hard to come back from this next year because we're worried we're going to lose players to other clubs," she said.
"But, there is nothing we can do about it - we got to the point where we tried so hard to recruit new players and we just didn't have the quality to be able to come up against the other teams.
"We conceded 60 goals in five games between prems and reserves, which is just embarrassing.
"It's a shame considering the great start we had to the season and how optimistic everything was looking."
She said premier men's players would now filter down through to reserves, with a flow on effect for third and fourth division sides.
While concerned, she was optimistic whether Coolum would re-enter a premier men's team next year.
"In our minds it's quite integral for a successful club to be able to have the prem and reserve men's teams to be able to compete against those other bigger clubs," she said.
Sunshine Coast Football chairman Tony McCrae said it was disappointing but understood the reasoning behind the decision.
"It was a bit regrettable that it happened part way through the season but then if the club can't maintain it then I'd rather them be honest about it and let's get it out there instead of it being the elephant in the room all the time," he said.
He was hopeful they'd be back in the top flight next year.
"They're a strong club and always have been and we want to keep them in the premier division," he said.