Grafton Rhinos land in a wee bit of trouble
“WE love to play a game of football, we like to play a game of league...”
And so goes the Grafton Ghosts' team song.
Fans at Frank McGuren Field, Grafton, heard it on Sunday after the Ghosts defeated Marist Brothers and wrapped up the Retravision Northern League minor premiership.
But while the Ghosts were celebrating at the Albion Hotel, 90km north of Grafton, a disgruntled Woodburn resident heard a different rendition.
“We are the Ghosts, we are the Ghosts, you can't see us” the man reported hearing after confronting a group of footballers urinating on the town's State Emergency Service grounds.
It was allegedly sung by someone from the Grafton Rhinos.
Travelling home after their 28-24 win over Ballina Seagulls at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, the Rhinos' team bus stopped outside the Woodburn SES centre so the club members could use the 24-hour toilet block on the opposite side of the two-lane section of the Pacific Highway.
But instead of using the facilities, the Rhinos' club members relieved themselves in full view of the neighbour's window.
Rhinos' treasurer Tony Stackhouse said it was too dangerous for his players to cross the 50km/h zone, but denied anyone had tried to shift the blame onto their arch-rivals the Ghosts.
The resident reported the incident to the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) and chairman Robin Harley confirmed yesterday there would be an investigation.
“About 7pm, the bus pulled up in front of the SES office,” the resident said.
“The team members alighted – at least a dozen of them – and proceeded to move into the SES area around the buildings and started urinating instead of walking across the road and using the toilet block that was open.
“My dog started barking and I went to the front room and told them to shut up.
“They all got into me.
“They started singing, 'We are the Ghosts, we are the Ghosts ...'
“I'd say they were saying that to put the blame on the Ghosts.
“Urinating in a public place in a residential area is a filthy attitude.”
But Stackhouse denied most of the resident's account and said his club was not in the wrong.
“We've spent a lot of time this year trying to dispel the boofhead image of football,” Stackhouse said.
“It was a dangerous road. I think its better they didn't cross the road with the amount of traffic that was coming through Woodburn.
“I asked the bus driver to drive across to the toilet but he said he couldn't go across the double yellow lines.”
“I'm not denying that they got out and had a leak. Most of the ones I saw were facing the bus, and urinating on the grass beside the bus. There might've been a couple that turned away.”
Stackhouse said he didn't even realise they were on SES property. “It would be the last thing our guys would think of is to try and denigrate the SES,” he said.
“Its not a heinous offence, no one was flashing. I don't think their behaviour was untoward.
“They didn't even realise the SES building was behind them. They were all discrete in what they did.
“Blokes will be blokes and most of the blokes stood at the bus wheel which you're quite legally entitled to do.”
But Stackhouse said there was no mention of the Ghosts.
“We're a bit above that,” he said. “There was no reference to the Ghosts.
“I don't know where he got that from. I didn't see anybody talk to him. It was all (over) in a matter of minutes.”
But Ghosts' president Michael Rogan wasn't laughing at the incident.
“Why would he (the resident) make that up?” Rogan said.
“He probably doesn't even know who the Ghosts are. I suppose they just thought they'd be smart. It's a pretty stupid thing to say when the Ghosts were playing in Grafton.
“I've been in football a long time. I've done the trips, and you never pull up in a residential area. There are plenty of places away from houses where they could've stopped.
“I would've said to the bus driver let's go through Woodburn and pull up at the truckstop a few kilometres out of town.
“The Ghosts don't think it's funny at all that we could be blamed for something we didn't do and we'll leave it in the hands of the NRRRL.”
“We've spent a lot of time this year trying to dispel the boofhead image of football”