The Wide Bay community players who could mix it in the FQPL
FOOTBALL: Wide Bay has the talent to compete in the Football Queensland Premier League, but the best players in the region aren't playing for the Buccaneers.
It could be down to the region's shaky state league history - the seeds planted by the Bundaberg Spirit almost provided fruit before they were unceremoniously axed and replaced by the short-lived, rocky road that was the Wide Bay Revolution.
The collective failure, whether that blame is apportioned to either entity, local or state officials is debatable and often a matter of opinion.
They may not be interested because of the travel.
Fortnightly trips to and from Brisbane that Buccaneers players learned often meant 10 hours in a bus and almost double that away from home, isn't exactly appetising.
When the team you play for is getting smashed on a weekly basis - conceding an average of six goals and scoring less than one per game - it's a lot easier to opt out and join a local club.
There's always a case for playing sport for fun and with your mates.
The FQPL is the pathway, and it provides younger players the chance to play against higher competition, which can help their development in the long run.
For older players who don't want that huge football future, it's easy to play for a local club and spend that extra time - the hours spent driving the Bruce Hwy - with family instead.
Wide Bay Buccaneers didn't win a game in 2018, but we think that could have been different if this group of Wide Bay Premier League players were part of the squad.
We're not calling for these men to replace those who wore the red and blue in the Buccaneers' inaugural season, but a bit of depth and competition for places would not hurt.
The Wide Bay Premier League's golden boot winner didn't claim the award for top goal-scorer because he's a chump.
No, the Sunbury legend is one of the best players in the league, and has consistently been in that top echelon for the past few seasons.
Anthony Mollee, a member of the WBPL team of the year and with 25 goals to his name, is a big part of Sunbury's success, and his experience and influence is sorely missed in a Buccaneers outfit that changes so often.
Another of Sunbury's champion players, Tyson Bedford has speed, skill, agility and an awesome boot with plenty of power.
He and Mollee have an existing combination that sends shivers through Sunbury's rivals, and the Buccaneers could certainly utilise that one-two punch.
Sam Kirk's presence in the Doon Villa lineup was sorely missed when the Magpies fell to Brothers Aston Villa in the 2018 preliminary final.
Kirk scored nine goals in 14 games last season, and while he has all of the attributes to compete it is his size and strength that are key.
The Buccaneers were bullied off the ball in their inaugural FQPL campaign - good luck bullying Kirk.
Another member of the WBPL team of the year.
The Yates brothers, Reuben and Joshua
Reuben and Joshua Yates were a revelation for Doon Villa this year.
Combined, they scored 21 of the side's 58 regular season goals (10 and 11 respectively), and their blinding speed and ability to hit the mark on a long cross delivered plenty of goals.
They lose out to other players in the size department - they aren't man mountains - but they beat plenty of defenders with speed and a deft first touch.
He has consistently been a rock for Across The Waves, and while the side failed to make the WBPL finals Warrick Stuart enjoyed his best season from a goal-scoring perspective.
A midfielder, Stuart should have been one of the first community footballers to be coaxed into the Buccaneers.
He was also part of Wide Bay's team of the year.
The WBPL's defender of the year, Josh McInnes captained Brothers Aston Villa in the 2018 grand final.
He was dubbed Brothers Aston Villa's "Mr Fix It": the key defender switched to the forward line when his side suffered a spate of injuries, and repaid that faith with six goals of his own.
McInnes is one of the only players to be named in the team of the year for different positions in three straight years - midfield in 2016, attack in 2017 and a defender in 2018 - and is a genuine contender for the leadership group who possesses key utility value and plenty of experience.
An attacking midfielder who has been part of a very successful Brothers Aston Villa, Jaryd Brenier could walk into any rep team.
He scored 12 goals in 16 games in 2018, a haul which included a hat trick against in-form Bargara in the heat of the coastal town's pursuit of an inaugural finals berth, and formed a powerful partnership with McInnes.
Given Brothers Aston Villa's dominance in recent years the Buccaneers would be wise to approach some of the side's key members.
A member of the Bundaberg Spirit youth ranks back in 2010, Michael Coleman is one of a number of unheralded players in the Wide Bay.
Coleman is a defender by trade, and has several years at Across The Waves under his belt.
He played only one game this year but would have to be seriously considered by any coach given his pedigree.
The only Hervey Bay-based football players earns his place in this squad by being one of the most exciting players in the WBPL.
Jarrod Best, the baby-faced KSS Jets striker named the WBPL player of the year, is an extremely fast and gifted finisher.
He scored a league-best 61.1% of his team's goals, finding the net 11 (of the Jets' season total of 18) times, and was fifth overall in the chase for the golden boot.
Matt Twyford started 2018 with Wide Bay Buccaneers, playing 10 FQPL games, before he returned to Across The Waves to finish the season in the WBPL.
He already proved he could not only cut it in the FQPL, but he was the best defender the Buccaneers had.
It was reported he returned to ATW due to his being unable to dedicate so much time to training and playing for the Buccaneers, but Twyford is one man who should not have been let go.
He'd be welcomed back to a group who learned a lot of tough lessons in their inaugural FQPL campaign and are ready to make a statement.
Goalkeepers Matt Nowitzke (Doon Villa), and Cory Holzberger (Brothers Aston Villa) are two of the best stoppers in the WBPL, while goalkeeper of the year, Bargara's Justin Anderson, is a no-brainer. Sign one or two straight away.
Midfielder of the year Josh Adcock (United Park Eagles), Mitch Aslett (Across The Waves), John Brillante (Across The Waves), Chris McKenzie (Bargara), Anthony Grant (Bargara) and Andrew Harrison (Bargara) were others who were considered.
And why not..?
Sam Whatman. The former United Warriors gloveman is plying his trade in Tasmania's National Premier League, but if he wants a season in a slightly warmer climate I'm sure the Hervey Bay product would love to represent his region in Queensland's second tier.
Which community footballers do you think would make healthy additions to the Wide Bay Buccaneers' senior men's team? Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.