JASON Gram says the financial crisis that has engulfed North Albury left him little choice but to walk out on the club.
The former St Kilda ace said the Hoppers had gone backwards since their debt of $123,000 was made public last month and weren’t in a position to improve after making the finals last season.
Gram, 29, had initially been toying with the idea of returning to Bunton Park this year but decided this week he would seek greener pastures.
“It was tough but I think it’s the right call,” he told The Border Mail from the US.
“We were all hoping to build on last season and all thought we would be able to get some good talent into the team but when all the stories came out about the money it hurt the club and a lot of people.
“I made some really good mates there last season and a lot of them have also walked away from the club disappointed.
“I don’t have much time left in the game and I want to win.
“I think North has gone backwards this season and it’s disappointing.
“I’m sad to leave the club but I wish them all the best.”
Gram is yet to decide where he’ll play this year but Eastern Football League heavyweight Balwyn is in the box seat.
Gram’s close friend Kris Pendlebury, the older brother of Collingwood captain Scott, recently joined the Tigers as an assistant coach.
He is also considering a return to his junior club Sale.
The 2008 Michael Tuck medallist said travelling to the Border each week last season took its toll and also played a part in his decision.
“The travel was a real pain and it was hard to just rock up on a Saturday and play good footy like I was expected to,” he said.
“It was unfair on the boys and the club.
“That wasn’t my main reason but it was a reason.”
Gram failed to set the Ovens and Murray alight as expected last year and managed just 13 games for the Hoppers.
He battled hamstring and ankle problems for much of the season.