CENTRAL Newcastle have been ordered to pay former first-grade co-coaches Craig Melia and David van Buuren $10,000, plus legal costs, for unpaid wages last season.
The Newcastle Local Court ruled yesterday in favour of Melia and van Buuren’s claim that there was a verbal agreement between them and the Newcastle Rugby League club that they would be paid to coach for the 2011 season.
The Butcher Boys said that the pair had agreed to coach for free as they were looking for an opportunity to prove themselves at first-grade level.
Melia and van Buuren agreed to coach Central in November 2010 after the resignation of former mentor Dean Bosnich.
In a signed affidavit Melia claimed then Central secretary Michelle Graham had agreed the coaches could have $110,000 to spend on player recruitment.
This included $10,000 to be split equally between Melia and van Buuren, which was to be paid in a lump sum at the end of the season.
Central finished above expectations in seventh spot with seven wins and 11 losses, but relations between the coaches and the club’s board had broken down.
On August 12 last year Melia invoiced the club for his payment and he was then subsequently stood down.
‘‘We wanted to do it for two years, if not three, but as it all unfolded at the end of the year, that wasn’t going to happen and we just went after what we were owed,’’ Melia said.
‘‘We’re stoked and very happy. It was probably worth more money to us in the end as it cost me money to actually do the job and I know Dave was up hours watching videos and none of these people see that stuff.’’
Melia said the experience had destroyed his desire to coach.
‘‘I’ll never coach a first-grade rugby league team again,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll just live my life as I was, plodding along. I don’t want to know about it.’’
In response to the court ruling, Butcher Boys president Tom Colquhoun read from a club statement: ‘‘We are reviewing our options and we will almost certainly consider appealing.’’
Central have 28 days to appeal.
Newcastle legal firm Bilbie Dan represented Melia and van Buuren and as part of evidence they produced signed affidavits from Maitland coach Ron Griffiths and Macquarie coach Noel Dent.
Both stated it would be unreasonable to believe anyone would agree to coach a first-grade team in the local league without payment due to the work entailed.