Claude Gordon signs with Bathurst Panthers in Group 10
By Sam Debenham
SANTA came bearing gifts for Bathurst Panthers this year, with the club announcing the signing of classy playmaker Claude Gordon for the 2016 Group 10 premier league season.
Gordon will line up in the halves for his new club and solve a tricky dilemma which arose with the loss of Sandon Gibbs-O’Neill from the fullback spot for next year.
The new signing will mean Claude Gordon’s namesake Jeremy can move back to the custodian role, though he was one of his team’s best even in his non-preferred position at five-eighth in an underwhelming season for the team.
“We looked at Claude towards the end of last season, which he spent in Group 11 with Dubbo Macquarie, and we were pretty close to signing him at that stage,” Panthers manager Danny Dwyer explained.
“He decided after the Group 11 competition was finished that he was going to head to Newcastle to try and get something
happening up there, but that more or less fell through, so we spoke with him again and brought him into the line-up.
“It is pretty much decided at this stage at least that he will go straight to five-eighth. Jeremy did a fantastic job there for us this year, but he’s a more natural fullback or centre, so it will free him up to go to the back with Sandon not being there.”
Gordon is the definition of a journeyman and even as a relatively young player he has had more clubs than most players line up for in a lifetime.
He has played with the Wests Tigers National Youth Competition squad, in Newcastle, and with Dubbo CYMS, Macquarie and Narromine in Group 11.
He has played with Orange CYMS and Oberon in Group 10 and, for good measure, had a stint playing rugby for Dubbo Rhinos.
His talent has always been unquestioned – one of his former team-mates, newly appointed Oberon coach Zac Rowlandson, described Gordon recently as having the best vision he has ever seen on a football field.
Discipline has been a problem, however, and Gordon’s commitment has been questioned at times.
Dwyer doesn’t anticipate that being a concern.
“Something that has probably not helped Claude in the past is that with the clubs he’s joined, he hasn’t been able to find work, so that’s been an issue,” he said.
“He’s secured a job working with [premier league forward] Ben Gunn, so that problem is already taken care of, and he will be able to put his full focus into playing football.”
The announcement of their new half comes on the back of a number of handy signings, with player-coach Todd Barrow being joined by younger brother Jye, who was part of the all-conquering Orange Hawks under 18s team of 2015.
Another Hawk, centre Lawrence Fogg, is lining up with them, and star junior representatives Blake Seager and Mitch Davis are back on board as well.