Oberon Tigers coach Dallas Booth thinks move to Mid West will relieve pressure

FLASHBACK: Oberon will return to the Mid West League - a competition the Tigers won in 2003 - next season.

FLASHBACK: Oberon will return to the Mid West League - a competition the Tigers won in 2003 - next season.

IT was 16 years ago, but Dallas Booth can still recall how excited the Oberon community were when the Tigers qualified for, then won, the 2003 Mid West Rugby League grand final.

Under the guidance of Sean Hooper, the Tigers went through the second half of the season undefeated then upset minor premiers Blackheath in the decider with a 28-12 victory. It led to huge celebrations.

It is that sort of excitement and community spirit he hopes to see again in 2020 when he coaches the Tigers in that same competition.

"I was 18 at the time in 2003 and playing under 18s. We went over to the leagues club on Friday afternoon and you couldn't get a car park, the place was packed the day before the game," he recalled.

"I've been around the town forever and most people in town were out there then. It was a great atmosphere."

After that Mid West win the Tigers went on to make a return to Group 10's senior ranks - a competition that they had stepped away from in 1996.

But now a lack of player depth has forced the Tigers to opt out of Group 10 for season 2020 and make a return to the Mid West competition. It was a tough decision and left many disappointed, but Booth can see the positives.

"I don't see it as footy dying, I see it as Oberon going back into a competition where they are more competitive," Booth said.

"You will be going to watch 19 boys from Oberon playing every week, not six Oberon boys and 10 signed players each week.

"At the end of the day every region has bigger clubs and smaller clubs. Oberon has been lucky enough the last six-seven years to have the funding to be able to stay competitive with the bigger clubs, but that's eventually going to come to an end.

"But now they won't have to worry about four teams every week, trying to scrape the numbers together and worrying about a forfeit. Hopefully this will take the pressure off and we can get people back enjoying their footy.

"You want a first grade side for your 18s and 16s to aspire to, but at the moment Oberon is even struggling for those numbers. Coming back to this comp, it will relieve the pressure switch."

Oberon will join CSU, Lithgow Bears, Orange United, Orange Barbarians, Portland, Kandos and Blackheath in next year's Mid West competition. Booth, who is also president of the league, is looking forward to his chance to coach the Tigers' top side for the first time and expects they will have plenty of support.

"Coaching is something I've done before with reserve grade, but this will be the first time I've had access to the full squad of players. Reserve grade was good fun, but that was a balancing act with players going up and players dropping back," he said.

"Everyone I've talked to in the town are very excited about it, they're excited they'll get to watch a full local team. Grandparents are going to be able to watch their grand kids playing the main game again.

"People now are excited to be getting back to Saturday afternoon footy and playing other local boys. That's the thing now, when you are playing Lithgow Bears you will be playing Lithgow locals, when you play Portland you'll be playing Portland locals.

"It's going to be less politics, more fun."