EXCLUSIVE: Former A-League defender Brett Studman says there were some upsides to the miserable season of axed A-League club North Queensland Fury.
Fury endured an awful campaign with speculation about their future rearing its ugly head early in the season. Their misery was compounded by a cyclone which ripped through the region at the back end of the season shortly before the FFA axe fell on the wooden spooners.
However, Studman, 25, says the dramas only brought the players closer together. So when Cyclone Yasi hit the region rather than cowering in their apartments, the players took a defiant approach to the rapidly deteriorating situation.
“As strange as it seems it was actually kind of enjoyable. We shacked up together for a few days during the cyclone and had a few laughs,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“There was about 10 of us in the one place and we had a bit of a cyclone party. Essentially we’d buy beer because all the water was already gone and a swag of junk [food] because everything else was off the shelves.
“We know a lot of people suffered so we just kind of made the best of it. So we just had a good laugh about it.
“And we woke the next day still a little dusty from the shenanigans the night before and the wind was still howling. But to be fair Townsville got off lightly.”
Similarly, Studman remained philosophical about his year in north Queensland.
“Mark Hughes and I we’d just laugh. With all the things that happened to us it didn’t surprise us there’d be a natural disaster too.”
Those “things” started early in the season with speculation the FFA would cut their losses with the club. Despite this, the team's early season form under coach Franz Straka looked good.
“We started off with a bang largely because everyone else thought we were shit," added Studman, who played ten times for Fury.
“We pulled together and we knew we had some spirit, but somewhere along the way we lost that. I don’t think you can blame the off-field dramas. We lost it and as it turned out we didn’t find it again.”
Despite a valiant rearguard effort from the club’s off-field staff, they couldn’t convince FFA bean counters the club had a future and the club was killed off in February.
"It’s quite heartbreaking,” added Studman, now playing for Sydney Olympic in the NSW Premier League.
“Initially, it was an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. Not just me but for the other boys and also the kids of North Queensland. They don’t have a football team anymore.
“I don’t believe the realisation will fully sink in until watching the A-League next season and we’re not in it.”
It’s unclear if Studman will return to the A-League. He has an interest in photography - "I really enjoy landscapes and beautiful sprawling scenery," he said - and is studying a Bachelor of Design and Photography at UTS.
“I’ve always had an interest in photography. I’m extremely passionate but there’s a long and hard road to finish off any degree.”
However, Studman remains grateful Fury gave him a chance. After playing a bit part at Newcastle in season one of the A-League, he shone in the NSW Premier League with Bankstown and was given his chance by Fury’s football operations manager – and now football agent – Robbie Middleby.
“I’ll be eternally grateful to Robbie for throwing me a bone ... they were a fantastic group of boys,” he said.
“We spent every waking moment together. But in fairness, there was eff all else in Townsville!”