Douglas United players to return for more
REPEATING this year's magical run may be difficult but Douglas United will ''definitely'' defend their FNQ Football crown next season, according to club president Rodney Rasmussen.
Still celebrating Saturday night’s 3-2 grand final win over Leichhardt Lions, Rasmussen estimated 70 per cent of the Premier Division playing roster would return to the Dragons next season.
"It just depends on which 70 per cent it will be," he said.
"If we get the right guys back, we’ll be strong again.
"It will be difficult getting back to the grand final, but we’ll definitely have a prems team."
With that statement, the Dragons are already several steps ahead of where they were this time last year, when no one was sure if they would have a Premier Division team.
The dispute between several clubs and Football Queensland consumed the off-season, meaning Douglas United only learnt of their fate three weeks before the season kick-off.
In the frantic days leading up to the opening game, coach Logan Marsh and captain Nick Tither were on Facebook recruiting former teammates from across the globe, while Rasmussen chased sponsors to help pay for the team’s kit.
"I was running around getting sponsorship, trying to get everything ready off the field," Rasmussen said.
"I managed to get a mate from Verri Industries to give us enough money for the shirts and everything like that.
"Logan and Nick were on Facebook getting in touch with guys from England who they had played with. It was touch and go.
"Guys were still playing their finals over there, so they finished their seasons there and came over here and started again."
In the early weeks of the season, the Dragons did not have enough senior players to fill both their Premier and Second Division squads.
It showed on the field, a slow start highlighted in round three when Douglas became the first team to lose to second-year club Southside Fury.
"We knew early on that we had the talent,’’ said playmaker Ian Marsh, whose bicycle-kick goal stole the show in the grand final.
"We were unfit, most of us had barely played together. But we got better as the season went on.
"It’s a strong competition. We played some very good sides. But we really came together as a team."
Marsh, a Brit, is one of those players Rasmussen wants to stay at Douglas United, but he realises he is not going to keep all of them.
"A lot of these guys came over on visas and the first thing they did was come to Port Douglas. They haven’t been to Sydney, they haven’t seen anywhere else yet,’’ he said.
"They want to stay here, but some of them are going to move on.
"But we’ll still have a core group of guys who will stay here and play for us next year."
Which means the Dragons are not going anywhere.
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FNQ Football premiers: The successful Douglas United Dragons