Ex-president spills on the move that divided Gympie football
FOOTBALL: Gympie football stalwart has opened up about controversies in light of stepping down as Gympie United Football Club president.
The passionate leader Joel Albion, who spent 11 years in football leadership roles, said it was a rewarding experience but there were challenges.
Albion was responsible for one of the biggest overhauls in Gympie football history - combining the four clubs, Lions, Diggers, Golden City and Columbia, to Gympie United and moving Gympie into the Sunshine Coast Football Competition.
The premier men played in the SCFC last year but the under-13s to under-18s and the premier women started this season.
The move was not without its challenges, Albion said he has lost friendships.
“Last year was tough and I nearly did not come back this year,” he said.
“Going through all the changes, people who I have called friends for 25 years and we do not talk. From my point of view, I have only ever done what I thought was the best thing for the game in town. Not everyone is going to agree but it is not worth having arguments with friends over football. At the end of the day it is just a game.”
Despite the tougher times , Albion said there had been plenty of highlights.
“The biggest for me, that I had been working towards for a while, is the change to Gympie United,” he said.
“The other thing was to be able to hire someone like Kyle Nix (Gladiators premier men’s team) who played for my favourite club Manchester United. To have someone like him on board with our club is huge.” Albion was one of the driving forces behind Gympie United.
“It was myself, Terry Ferguson and Russell Gear,” he said.
“We started talking a few years ago. When I took over as Football Gympie president, I approached Diggers and asked to take over the team on the Sunny Coast which we did. From there we thought the best thing for the game was to take the whole competition down there and thats where Gympie United came along.
“Terry and I were pretty active and talking to the people from the Sunshine Coast regularly.
“We were down here at an over 35s night and myself and Russell Gear sat in the bar and came up with the logo. We thought about who we would be and it was Olivia Healy who came up with the Gladiators tag and it is something that I am proud of. I think it will cement football in Gympie a lot longer now.”