A LOSS of a coach and a pre-season exodus of players from the Queanbeyan City football club's first grade side to the Monaro Panthers reserve grade team has seen a brand new crop of players score a loss and a draw to start their Capital League season.
Former coach Ante Lavanat left the club after the 2013 grand finalists enjoyed what was a smooth off-season, including the Mayor's Cup match against the Panthers Premier League side in February.
This followed the defection of approximately six to eight core players to the Monaro Panthers, who registered with that club before proceeding with representing Queanbeyan City.
The Queanbeyan Age understands from sources within the side some players were not happy with with their club's management and coaching for unconfirmed reasons, and consequently moved to Monaro around a month before the Capital League started.
Clubman for 20 years Zmejko Trajkovsji has taken over the coaching reigns to guide his new-look side through the season, after players allegedly were not seeing eye-to-eye with Lavanat.
Queanbeyan City captain Goran Milutinovic said the situation was a shock given the side were the runners up in last season's competition after finishing third with only four losses.
"Players were training in the offseason, but then things turned a bit," said Milutinovic.
"The players left, and only a few of us decided to stay, so we've pretty much got a brand new team that we're working with at the moment."
"Most of the guys that left have been at the club for five or six years, so we've all played together for a while now, so it was a pretty big loss."
Despite some Queanbeyan City players telling The Age they had difficulties with Lavanat's coaching style, Lavanat said he left on his own terms after seeing the players did not like his "old school, tough" style coaching.
"I was tough on the players. Some expected to play without training, and I had enough of that, so I thought 'why bother', and decided to leave," he said.
Queanbeyan City president Norm Aleksovski did not comment on the club's relationship with the players when contacted, but said Lavanat decided to leave for personal reasons and that new players now had a good relationship with Trajkovski.
He said "a couple of players" left the club to join Monaro during the preseason.
"Everybody was free to leave or free to stay, there was no issues between the players. Nobody had forced them to leave. Some of them wanted to move to the more competitive side of the football league," he said.
Sources from the Monaro Panthers confirmed that a group of new players had come into their reserve grade side, formally known as second division, but could not confirm that those players came from Queanbeyan City.
One source said Monaro was approached by Queanbeyan City players asking if they could play for them due to being unhappy at City.
"We nominated a team in Capital League reserve grade, and they all came across," they said.
Milutinovic said his side had to move on from the situation and focus on rebuilding to make the finals again.
"The way we've been playing, there's been positive signs come from that, so within the next month or two we'll be able to start matching it with the best again."