Pigeons call it quits but vow to fight on
HORSHAM District Football League club North Horsham will go into recess for the 1999 season.
Disappointed Pigeon president Bill Khan confirmed yesterday that the club had exhausted all of its options and had simply run out of time to form an 11th-hour alliance with Horsham United.
But the historic minor league club, its roots deeply entrenched in the city north of the railway line, will attempt to pick up the pieces and regroup at the end of the season.
The club hasn't foldedBill Khan, president
"We'll still be fund raising and trying to keep ourselves viable. It all depends on whether we can generate support from the people of Horsham North. But it's going to be a lot of hard work."
North Horsham and Horsham United officials discussed merging at United's Horsham City Oval headquarters on Monday night only to discover that they needed to merge at least 28 days before the start of the season to meet incorporation criteria. Wimmera and Horsham District league seasons start in a fortnight.
North Horsham was willing to merge with the Diggers after United threw its doors open to the club for discussions.
"At this stage the club is in recess but we have to remain optimistic," Khan said.
"United has been terrific. At least they've tried to keep us viable and a lot of people didn't want to do that.
"We're encouraging any of our footballers and netballers to join United, to give them the support they were willing to give us. People still want to play netball and footy and we have some really good junior netballers coming through."
Khan said the Pigeons would stay in control of its home base at North Park where they would launch a comeback bid next year.
"We would obviously like to come back as a single entity but if the opportunity arose at the end of the season we would again look at merging. It would be commonsense not to shut the door on anyone," he said.
"There's only a handful of us working for the club and if we can build on that handful there's probably no reason why we can't rebuild again.
"In the long run we're working for the people of Horsham North. Out aim is not simply to look after ourselves but to look after their interests as well.
Three and a half thousand people live north of the railway line and there's a lot of juniors coming out of the areaBill Khan, president
"But, we can't force anyone into doing anything. They have to want to do it themselves."
North Horsham, formerly Homers, has undergone major change in the last couple of years after shifting from its traditional base at Oatlands Park to neighboring North Park. The club changed its name and jumper design in the move in an attempt to tap into the Horsham North community.
But a severe shortage of players for this season forced the club into damage control and officials found themselves fighting for the Pigeons' survival.
Horsham Rural City Council plans to sell Oatlands Park and spend money from the sale developing North Park as Horsham's second major sporting facility.
North Horsham Football Club has been in existence as Homers since the late 1940s, playing its games at Horsham Showgrounds before moving to Oatlands Park in the early 1950s.
And offshoot of Horsham Homing Club, the Pigeons have only two premierships, their first in 1965 and their latest in 1992 when they defeated Kalkee by 19 points.
The club had 50th anniversary celebrations in 1995.
Like most country football clubs, it had humble beginnings, starting coachless and with a team of teenagers after a meeting at Don Saywer's parents' house at the end of the Second World War.
The club became an integral part of Horsham District League, has produced players who have gone on to play at the highest level in Australia and is firmly established in Wimmera football history.
North Horsham's move into recess will leave Horsham District Football League with nine teams for the 1999 season. Secretary Felicity Munn said teams drawn to play the Pigeons would have a bye.
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