To the disgust of basically everyone I know, I'm an unashamed Taylor Swift fan.
People are often confused and angry on finding out she was my most-played artist of 2019, telling me her songs the musical equivalent of a sugar hit with as much substance as marshmellows, completely oblivious to my addiction to sugar and love of marshmellows.
Why is Taylor Swift in a sports column? Because I think she has poses a sad, beautiful, tragic question for sport in the Central West: Will lower grades and their administrators ever, ever, ever get back together?
Sport administrators are in a difficult position, especially in smaller towns around the Central West.
With numbers dwindling, often they're forced to make a delicate call on how strict to make laws around having lower-grade sides - in some cases abolishing grades entirely.
But once they're gone it might stay that way, forever and always.
Rugby union especially is at risk of this, with the Blowes Clothing Cup relaxing the rules around whether clubs are forced to supply third grade sides and - crucially - Colts outfits.
Once the CWRU stopped forcing clubs to have sides outside first and second grade in the Blowes Clothing Cup, they ran the very real risk of losing them forever. With the CWRU draws being released this week, there's no Colts draw as the league waits for team nominations.
How much longer until there are no teams nominated? And when that happens, where do those few kids left go? Cross to league? Play in the Orange District Football Association socially with friends? Play Fortnite? Write poppy break-up songs from their Christmas tree farms?
No matter what the answer is, those kids are probably breaking up with rugby and they may never, ever get back together with it.
Can you begin again and make those competitions anew? No, call it what you want in regards of why lower grades are drying up, but once those competitions are gone you're hard-pressed to get them back.
As a counterpoint however, despite being the biggest game in town and despite enforcing those rules around lower grades, cracks are beginning to show in Group 10. The Oberon Tigers are dropping out of the competition because they weren't able to fill a certain number of teams.
So sticking the foot down doesn't help either - the Tigers were given concessions but after several seasons weren't able to pull together the required numbers and as such are heading to the New Era Cup for 2020, and likely beyond. Is this a last kiss for Group 10? Another 'never ever getting back together' moment?
I know the Tigers have come back in style before, but outside one year when Mick Sullivan "robbed" them of the premiership - as recounted to me by all every person bar one I've met from Oberon - were they ever a force?
Their last title in any grade was 1989, which is coincidentally Taylor Swift's best album. Coincidence? Yes, actually, but regardless - will they re-enter Group 10? What about the smaller towns, those who couldn't join competitions like the New Era Cup or Woodbridge Cup?
Outside special one-off events, clubs like the Carcoar Crows exist only in the memories of players who aren't getting younger, as a blank space on a map growing increasingly emptier. Are they ever getting back together?
The biggest example of an administration finding out how hard it is to welcome back a disgruntled lover is the AFL Central West's push to reintroduce reserve grade. After the 2015 season the league abolished the lower grade, merging the men's competition into a single tier.
The Mudgee Black Swans never made the leap across, and Cowra dropped away mid-way through 2017, as did the Young Saints. While the Blues returned in 2019, the Saints have not - and to be honest I forgot that they existed. If their social media activity is anything to go by we won't see them again in our wildest dreams, at least not in the Central West competition anyway.
At the end of season 2018, the AFLCW tried to reintroduce the second tier, and struggled. Massively. There was pushback from clubs who didn't know how they'd fill sides only a few years ago were filling.
Part of that was how quickly the league tried to re-introduce the second tier, but I knew the proposal was trouble when it walked in. Not because I wanted to put a red line through it or I have bad blood with the league - no, it's a gorgeous idea - but because I could see how difficult it might be to get back what is gone.
Bathurst Bushrangers won't have an issue filling two sides, but despite having well over 40 players don a jumper last year and register the Tigers occasionally were scratching for numbers to fill a best 22 spots, let alone another 18 for a reserve grade side.
Bathurst Giants have indicated they'll struggle to fill a second side after several key players were announced to be leaving the club in the off-season, and Dubbo's reputation is they've never had the numbers to push for a second side.
Granted, the last few months were hardly a cruel summer for the AFLCW as the massive success of Australian rules' touch competition AFL9s in Orange and Dubbo - with another program now running in Parkes - hopefully proved a huge step in bringing new players into these clubs.
That might help push the former two into the numbers to fill a second side, with those sides often the lifeblood of their respective sports - quite literally the grassroots.
Reserve grades give younger players the chance to give senior competition a try without coming up against some of the best players - having juniors try to tackle someone like Michael Rothnie, which I saw in 2018, is like sending Bloomfield Tigers juniors tasked with taking down Nathan Potts.
Reserve grades also allows old codgers, rusted-on supporters and those who often form the life and soul of football clubs of all codes a way to remain involved with the game.
I certainly hope the AFLCW get it up - a reserve grade side would be phenomenal for the sport in the region, not simply by getting more people playing footy but helping to build the atmosphere you get in Group 10 games, when for example every single Hawks side drives down the road and plays back-to-back-to-back-to-back at Carrington Park.
But can they? A three-team reserve grade would be less than ideal, and while the Black Swans have pushed to re-form, Facebook engagement indicates it'll be a long road back - potentially through rebuilding with a junior club.
It's a lesson worth heeding across other codes.
Now it's all too well for me to sit here in my ivory tower and write the love story where leagues ignore dwindling player numbers and teams forced to forfeit and just magically make it better. If this was a movie they might be able to say "nope, we're not shutting down competitions" and it would be fixed, but it's not that simple.
So then, what's the answer here champ?
I don't know. Taylor Swift hasn't answered that one for me yet.
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