Fury- ous fans in a sad farewell

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Antony Ste­wart antony. ste­wart@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

SAY­ONARA STRAKA: F-Troop­ers con­sole coach Franz Straka af­ter yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment ‘‘ THE A-League is dead’’.

That was the blunt mes­sage de­liv­ered by one shat­tered fan to Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia de­ci­sion mak­ers af­ter they yes­ter­day made the ag­o­nis­ing call to axe the North Queens­land Fury from the A-League.

But Neil Gib­son was hardly alone in his sen­ti­ments.

A band of hard-core sup­port­ers turned up to greet FFA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Buck­ley and A-League head Lyall Gor­man ahead of yes­ter­day’s D-Day meet­ing, full of hope but ul­ti­mately braced for the night­mare news to fol­low. Mr Buck­ley re­mained con­fi­dent the re­gion would not give up on the code’s na­tional competition. Not so the sup­port­ers. ‘‘ This is the death of the A-League, in my opin­ion,’’ North Ward res­i­dent Mr Gib­son said.

‘‘ There will be a lot of peo­ple from other clubs that re­alise that if they’re go­ing to do this to us af­ter we’ve j u mped t h r o u g h a l l t h e h o o p s , d o n e e v e r y t h i n g asked of us by the FFA, and to still be axed, there will be a lot of fans that lose con­fi­dence in this.’’

Pas­sion­ate Fury group spokesman sup­port Michael Palmer spoke to Mr Buck­ley on his way in, of­fer­ing him his NQFC jer­sey and ask­ing him to hold on to it dur­ing the 90-minute meet­ing with club ex­ec­u­tives. Later, af­ter a se­ries of in­ter­views, fol­low­ing the bad news, he broke down in tears.

The pain was just as bad for Fury team man­ager Tony Lambert, who has ded­i­cated up to 60 hours a week of his time free of charge to the club over two sea­sons only to see the dream un­ravel.

‘‘ It’s gut-wrench­ing,’’ said Lambert, who was named Fury club­man of the year less than two weeks ago.

‘‘ The eyes welled up a bit, but mainly I was just frust r at ed. Ev­ery­one put i n 110 per cent for the last few years and it just feels like you’ve had it dragged away from un­der you.’’

Kir­wan’s Kris­ten Court s a i d : ‘ ‘ I ’ v e w a n t e d a n A-League team up in Townsville since I was a kid and when we fi­nally got one it was so ex­cit­ing – I’ve been to nearly ev­ery game – it’s so dis­ap­point­ing.

While Mr Buck­ley said ‘‘ never say never’’ to an A-League re­turn, Mr Gib­son strug­gled to be as op­ti­mistic.

‘‘ It won’t hap­pen again, peo­ple here won’t have the con­fi­dence to go out and sup­port a team again,’’ he said.

‘‘ What do you tell lit­tle kids when they say ‘ when’s the next Fury game on?’.’’

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