GROUP 10 and its clubs had a tough call to make when they controversially dumped Blackheath from the senior competition, all but ending the game’s dream of a 10-team first grade premiership then and there.
But, in the end, the right decision was made.
With just seven first grade sides idling along in Group 10 in 2011, few could argue the growth and development of the competition as a whole in the last two to three seasons has been nothing short of immense.
In 2012 Oberon returned to premier league, then 12 months on Blayney did the same.
Both returns have been classed successful as well.
The NRL has identified the region as its own, with the City-Country (2012) and Parramatta Eels-Gold Coast Titans NRL game (2013) being staged in Mudgee while Penrith will take a game to Bathurst every year for five years starting in 2014.
Top all of that with 5000 people flooding Wade Park for the 2013 CYMS-Hawks grand final, the largest Group 10 crowd seen in many a year, and the Midas touch certainly rests with the management manning Group 10 central at present.
But there was one final piece of the puzzle.
The Blue Mountains was viewed as the final frontier in the game’s growth.
Expressing interest in filling that void since nominating for Group 10 first division and under 18s in 2012, the Blackheath Blackcats play virtually on the doorstep of Katoomba - a mountain city with a first class field and unprecedented access to the Penrith region, an area Lithgow occasionally draws players from as well.
A 10-team competition involving a Katoomba-Blackheath side would evolve Group 10 into the premier competition in the CRL.
But Blackheath didn’t want to budge.
And now they’re gone.
In an ever-growing semi-professional game, adaptation is key, and Blackheath’s unwillingness to move to benefit both the club’s longevity and the growth of the game forced the hand of each and every Group 10 club come time to vote.
Couple stubbornness with sub-par facilities - dated, un-kept change rooms, an unfenced arena and a synthetic cricket pitch in the middle of the field of play at Blackheath’s current home ground - and the decision was probably an easy one.
The fact Blackheath didn’t have a representative at the Group 10 annual general meeting probably tells the story itself.