New wheels, signings for Spirit
BUNDABERG Toyota Spirit have celebrated the initial signing of 12 players with a pre-season present — a new team bus that will save them about $15,000 a season.
The bus was donated by major sponsor Bundaberg Toyota, and means funds can now be directed towards player development and facilities rather than travel.
“It’s a great step and shows that things are in pretty good shape heading into the season,” Spirit player Brett Kitching said.
Players will still fly to their Cairns and Townsville games, but will not have to hire a bus for the away games on the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane or Gladstone.
“It’ll save them lots of money and they can invest that into becoming a better team,” Bundaberg Toyota managing director David Hillier said.
The gift came as the first 12 squad members were named for the side’s third season in the Queensland State League.
As the NewsMail has reported previously, Brett Kitching and Laurie Stephenson will return, along with Lucas Read, Aaron Bakker and Elliot Causer.
Sunshine Coast recruit Kevin Clarke, plus locals Robert Thatcher, Tom Kimber, Shane Youngberry, John Brillante, Corey Haak and young goalkeeper Jason McEwan fill out the squad.
Three more players will be named shortly, according to head coach Richard Mitchell.
“I’ve got some great guys training right now and should be able to pick two more quality players as soon as I’ve had a better look at everyone,” Mitchell said.
Another signing, the most important in Mitchell’s eyes, was that of assistant coach Tony Roebuck.
“This is big news for us, he’s all class and will help tremendously,” Mitchell said.
Roebuck has been away from the game since the Spirit was formed.
“He’s been on to me for the past four months and I’ve finally been able to agree to terms,” Roebuck said.
“Having a team in this competition is very important for Bundaberg and we don’t want to see it fold. I want to keep us there, keep us successful and give the juniors something to aspire to.”
Roebuck captained the Bundaberg Waves for six seasons before giving the game away.
He also represented the Queensland open men’s team in his prime.
“I’m a little too old to play, but I want to keep contributing,” the Bingera product said.
“I’ve coached with Richard before and enjoyed it, so I really am excited for the season ahead.”
Initial Spirit Squad
Lucas Read, Brett Kitching, Laurie Stephenson, Elliot Causer, Kevin Clarke, Aaron Bakker, Robert Thatcher, Shane Youngberry, Corey Haack, John Brillante, Tom Kimber, Jason McEwan