McKenzie calls for NIHL North divisions to merge

Deeside Dragons’ boss Scott McKenzie believes the time is right to merge NIHL North’s two divisions into one big league.

The Dragons retained their Moralee D1 status with victory over Widnes Wild on Sunday, but with D2 champions Blackburn Eagles recently announcing they would fold after the play-offs next season’s structure has yet to be confirmed.

McKenzie admitted he hoped a solution to the Eagles’ situation could be found, but insisted a merger between the two divisions was the way forward if the club fell by the wayside.

“It’s been a really good league this season – we were still pushing for a play-off spot even in January, so I think that’s a credit to our team,” said McKenzie.

“We’ve come up a little bit short and some points got away from us. I’ve counted seven points I feel we lost this year, but that’s the league and that’s why we wanted to stay in it.

“Having to play the play-off game wasn’t ideal, especially with what happened to the Eagles, but no-one could predict that so we just had to get on with it.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but I hope they can find somewhere to play. If it’s not Blackburn, then hopefully somewhere else can take them.

“They deserve to be in Moralee D1 – we want them to come up and we want to play against them.

“It’ll be really disappointing if they’re not there and if they aren’t then perhaps a restructure is needed.

“I think one big league with a cup competition everyone buys into would be the way forward.

“Perhaps it would be a struggle for the lower teams early on, but the gap has closed in the past couple of seasons and it’s the right time to do it.”

Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win against Widnes in the promotion/relegation play/off game ensured the Dragons would be a D1 club if the set-up remained the same next term.

Captain James Parsons bagged the dramatic winning goal with under a minute to play and he admitted it was a special moment.

“Widnes got under our skin from the start and played great – no-one deserves to lose a game like that,” said Parsons.

“It’s definitely special to get the winner – it’s the sort of thing you think about when you’re younger. The team played well – we stuck together and just kept on going for it.

“The reaction at the end from the fans was amazing too. There were a lot here over the weekend, so we’ve got to say thank you to them.

“Without them there’s no team, so it’s great to do this for them.”

(Image permission: PSD-Images)

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