From brink of extinction to Coal League kings

By Mitch Jennings - Illawarra Mercury

Ten years ago Helensburgh was a club on the brink of extinction.

After one finals appearance in the 13 years that followed their last premiership in 1993 the club was forced to fold in 2006 and won just one game in two seasons in the two years that followed.

It left the club at a crossroad ahead of the 2009 season according to then president and current manager of football Col Doran .

‘‘Since 93 we’d only played in one semi-finals series [2000] and spent four years in VB Cup,’’ Doran said.

‘‘In 2006 we folded again and in 2007-2008 we won one game in two years.

“We had a big meeting and we were either going to go back to VB Cup or play A grade in the Shire.

‘‘People said ‘how do we compete with the money the other clubs are paying?’ and I said ‘how are they going to compete with us when we’re about to bring through the two best junior sides to come through the Illawarra league?’ and we had one more shot at it.”

The decision paid the ultimate dividend on Sunday with the likes Blake Phillips, Wayne Bremner, Jarrod Boyle, Azan Turoa and Jason Raper justifying the club’s faith in the club’s breakthrough grand final win. 

After close losses in three of the previous four grand finals Doran admitted it was probably the current crop’s last shot.

‘‘If we’d lost it I don’t think we could’ve recovered,’’ Doran said.

“Mentally, losing four grand finals so close...that would have been it. 

‘‘People were saying we deserved one after being so close but it doesn’t work that way.

‘‘Nothing’s owed to you, we’ve learned that the hard way. 

“Thank God we finished that one off.’’

It’s a story perhaps befitting a contented ride off into the sunset but, after a 22-year wait, Doran said that’s not the Tigers’ plan.

‘‘The boys are keen to defend their title,’’ Doran said. ‘‘We don’t have money but we’ve got culture. They just play for each other and you can’t put a price-tag on that.’’


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2018 Hardware Man Illawarra League First Grade
1 Wests 23
2 Thirroul 23
3 Collegians 22
4 Dapto 20
5 Berkeley 12
6 Helensburgh 8
7 Corrimal 4