EXCLUSIVE: Gympie, Pomona, combine to make AFL Wide Bay force
TWO Sunshine Coast teams will merge to create what officials hope is AFL Wide Bay's next powerhouse.
Gympie Cats and Pomona Demons will play under the "Cats" banner against the best from Maryborough, Hervey Bay, and Bundaberg in what is expected to be a 20-round regular season.
Players will alternate between Gympie's and Pomona's home grounds for training, but are expected to play the majority of home senior games at Gympie's One Mile Oval.
Cats president Jason Bromilow said the venture will help create a team that will be not only be competitive, but a force.
"We're already getting double the number of players we usually get (for pre-season). In the past we have struggled but everyone is really happy with the way it's going," Bromilow said.
Gympie's inclusion, along with Maryborough Bears' promotion, will mean AFL Wide Bay's seniors expands from four to six teams.
There were concerns about how players would adapt to a four-team competition just months after the single-season, seven-team QFA Wide Bay Sunshine Coast, which combined teams from two neighbouring Aussie rules associations.
Gympie and Pomona struggled to sixth and seventh respectively as Maroochydore Roos won the premiership.
"We definitely struggled last year, but if we take the 10 best players from Gympie and the 10 best players from Pomona, I think we will have a strong team," Bromilow said. New AFL Wide Bay president Anthony Stothard spoke highly of Gympie's move to the region.
Junior Gympie teams are expected to remain in the Sunshine Coast competition as the Cats play in both senior and reserve grade.
"Going from four to six teams, it means we will have a longer season, and it eliminates the bye," he said.
Officials are yet to finalise a draw but the first round is expected to be held on March 24, with the grand final on September 1.