'Significant step forward': Central FC expand their base
SOCCER: Central Football Club continues to grow with the club announcing it has been handed Brian Niven Park from CQ Mariners FC following the club's decision to fold this year.
Central FC plays home games at Sun Valley Park but hopes the addition of Brian Niven Park, will further boost player numbers.
The club had reached capacity at Sun Valley Park.
Since it formed 42 years ago, Central FC has grown to now have 350 registered players to become one of the major clubs in Central Queensland.
President Marty Emerson said the club was extremely grateful for the support of the CQ Mariners members.
"This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for our club," Emerson said.
"The timing couldn't be better for us. Sun Valley Park has been our home ground for the past 20 years over which time our Central family has grown.
"We now have 25 junior teams in all age groups, three academy teams and for the first time our senior teams have increased to a total seven this year which is the most of any club in Central Queensland.
"Having a dedicated football facility is a significant step forward for our club."
Emerson said a shared arrangement at Sun Valley had become problematic.
"It's a facility we share with The Glen Cricket Club who also use it for half the year meaning our field is unavailable for games at the start of each season due to the crossover with the cricket season," he said.
"With the two full-size fields at Brian Niven Park in addition to Sun Valley Park, we will once again have the capacity to increase the number of teams and players we can accommodate.
"We'll also have the ability to host carnivals and off-season clinics which hasn't been an option for us in the past."
Emerson acknowledged the work put into the facility over the years by Mariners and Wolves members and said the club would continue to improve it.
CQ Mariners president Jeff Wells said the announcement was a bittersweet one.
"I'm excited for Central to see what they do with the place," Wells said.
"We were a representative team running in the ICC (Inter City Cup) but that came to an end in 2017 and we lost a lot of members after that happened and as a committee we were searching for a new direction.
"We had a few directions that we wanted to go in... We had negotiations with Football Queensland but it wasn't the right time for FQ to move into that space.
"Another option was starting a private academy but we would have been running in direction competition with the FQ program. We wanted to promote those guys and not be in competition with them."
Wells said he was approached by Emerson at the beginning of the year.
"They had nowhere to train in pre-season due to the cricket pitch so we'd been in discussions, not about the takeover, but around use of the fields because you could see how much they needed the space," he said.
"When we came to the conclusion that the incorporation was going to fold, we gave Marty along with FQ an option to take up the lease.
"We took it to an AGM and members voted - the first preference was FQ but they politely declined and (Central) was clearly the second preference."
Wells said no matter the outcome he was determined to keep the game flourishing in Gladstone.
"Everything we did we considered the objects of our association with regards to fostering the game and bettering football in Central Queensland," he said.
"I feel we stuck true to that and did everything we could do, but the best thing for football in this instance was for us to fold."
Wells said he would not be lost to the game and could be found at BITS FC doing some coaching and "the mowing and line-marking".