THE death knell is set to sound tomorrow night on the Western Suburbs Magpies, a foundation club with 105 years of history.
A Western Suburbs District Rugby League Football Club board meeting will resolve whether the Fibros attempt to submit a side into the NSW Cup competition next year. While an application has been lodged with the NSWRL for the 2013-14 seasons - with the league expected to ratify teams by September 24 - Magpies directors will debate the merits of the move. There is a strong will to see Western Suburbs retain a senior team but The Sun-Herald has been told the majority of directors recognise it is futile trying to keep the maligned Black and Whites going.
The Wests Tigers issued a press release last week declaring ''unanimous support for the club to field a single stream side in the NSW Cup from the 2013 season''. It is understood Balmain Ryde-Eastwood requested an extension in order to get an application in but has not done so following Wests Tigers' stance. It looks likely they won't be in the NSW Cup next year which would also mean the end of Balmain, another foundation club.
''Since 1908 the Magpies have had more hits than Elvis but continue to get up,'' a highly placed Magpies source said. ''It looks like with this biggest hit, which has been conducted at joint-venture board level, the Wests Group has suffered irreversible damage that will see the Magpies finally laid to rest, which is upsetting. I believe the writing is on the wall. The numbers are pointing towards a joint-venture NSW Cup team, that's what it looks like. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be enough people fighting for the black and white cause. We seem to be losing our representation through our own joint venture.''
In 2012, the Wests Tigers used Balmain Ryde-Eastwood as their preferred feeder team, sending demoted and upcoming NRL players to the Tigers outfit. The results were catastrophic for the Magpies, who went the season without a win. In 24 matches they conceded 1400 points and scored only 280. It appears that their 76-4 loss to Balmain Ryde-Eastwood at Leichhardt Oval on September 1 will be their final one.
If Wests Magpies directors vote to abandon their push for NSW Cup representation, the district club constitution states the matter must go to its members. However, a source claimed that it would be a ''moot point'' by that stage. Even if directors opted to push forward for one more year, there is no guarantee a licence will be granted.
''If there is a ratification of the Wests Tigers [single side], I know some people will make headlines out of the 'death of Western Suburbs','' the chairman of Wests Ashfield Leagues Club Mike Bailey said, and the alternate Wests Tigers chairman to appointee David Trodden. ''It's no more the end of Western Suburbs than it is of Balmain, at least at that level of competition. What has been discussed is that both of those clubs will continue to present young players through the junior ranks in Harold Matthews and S. G. Ball on the way up. But of course there would be the single State Cup side, which potentially is a good move.''
Fibros fans have always feared that the marriage of Balmain and Western Suburbs in 1999 was more of a takeover than a merger.
''It looks like Balmain, it walks like Balmain, it talks like Balmain,'' one source said. ''So it might as well be Balmain.''
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