Hello everyone and welcome to round 10. Another busy week unfolded, and I can assure you all there are plenty of administrative issues to address as we race towards out 2021 finals series.
By the time you all get to read this article it will have become public knowledge that our league will abandon rounds 17 and 18 from our 2021 draw and our finals series will remain as previously scheduled with our Grand Final date or 11th of September remaining unchanged. I guess this strategy contained the least disruption and I equally acknowledge this option allowed some level of normality and structure in everyone’s plans and life.
But in the other hand what is normal about anything COVID related and the dramatic impacts a sudden lockdown can have? Somehow, we adjust our thinking, adjust our plans and adjust our lives accordingly which is admirable to say the least.
What some of you may not know is that our Board also proposed an extended season version for our clubs to contemplate and to a degree I wonder if an opportunity was missed to elevate our Brand in substitution of a path of least resistance and I thought I would share a few thoughts?
Firstly, our draw was already an uneven creature and COVID only exacerbated this element. Our 2021 draw was already a reduced version from any historic template of 9 home and 9 away games to an 8 home and 8 away game season. The loss of 2 further weeks will now see the draw reduced to become a 7 home and 7 away season (14 games) and there was a strong argument for not falling to reduced format when a window existed to leave that element of our draw intact.
Yes, extending the season out 2 weeks would have created a new Grand final date but with that proposed change came a level of excitement, opportunity and some risk. I am a half glass full kind of guy and I believe this was an opportunity in a crazy mixed up year to try something different and find out if this could possibly be a pillar of strength for our league in future years, but that view is not shared by all. In my eyes any pain could have answered many future sustainability questions.
Regardless of the 2021 decision if our league desires to return to a 9 home and 9 away scheduling fixture in future years then we need to find more weeks in the footy calendar to rollout any such combination and that means either starting the season earlier, maybe losing the general bye on Queens Birthday weekend and the possibly finishing later. Should a later finish be inevitable then again adopting a 2021 extended season option would have presented an opportunity to answer some questions in preparation for future years and the challenges of scheduling.
I think it is also important to highlight that many supported a theory that if option one was chosen it would allow a buffer to extend the season should we have another COVID lockdown happen. Well, I simply do not subscribe to that rationale or theory. In my eyes should that happen then our season is basically over.
Based on the history of Victoria’s 4 previous lockdowns the relaxation of restrictions by higher authorities would not be quick enough to allow our competition to move into a finals phase. Even as I write this report, we are approx. 6 weeks since lockdown 4 was imposed on Victorians and yet even today we can only have 1000 patrons at venues. Why would anyone think that should another lockdown be imposed that a 2 week buffer would be suffice a plan B strategy as we enter into a final’s series. Our league requires patronage of approx. 1500 for minor finals and upwards of 4000 for our grand final let alone thinking about social distancing compliance?
Whilst I could raise a number of others issues in any forward planning space such as the possible inclusion of an additional team into the NGFNL in the future, or some level of a weighted fixture after all clubs have played each other once and maybe an extended finals series or the extended number of participating teams in a finals series have elements of creating a vibrant future for the league the bottom line will always remain that any structural amendment within our league must come with due process, the freedom of debate and democratic principles applying thereafter.
A further element of interest in this space has been the questioning of where our 2021 Grand Final be held given the recent floods in Traralgon? We have had a few discussions with Latrobe City and they are hoping games will resume back at the Traralgon Rec reserve by Mid July and that their insurance inspections and claim applications are progressing well. A number of capital and rebuild projects are about to commence if not already commenced such as works to player change rooms the Canteen, Bar and Netball pavilion.
From a playing surface perspective, they will also need the weather gods to provide them with a little of latitude, grace and forbearance. Despite the unsightly brown tinge across the surface given time and good drainage there is an expectation games will return on or around the date mentioned above. That being said any adverse weather may delay or protract that timeline.
This report is written on Mondays so unfortunately, I cannot share any results but our Under 18 interleague team played in Morwell on Wednesday the 30th of June. I have no doubt these young men would have represented our League with a degree of pride and credibility regardless of any result. I would like to thank Coaches Daniel Missen and Heath Fox for their dedication, leadership and inspiration to these young men. Team Manager Todd Parnell has attended to this this thankless role for a number of years and we should all thank him for his support. Trainers, timekeepers, water people, runner and parents are all to be thanked and acknowledged. Well done everyone for representing our Brand on this important date on the football calendar.
Gormandale host Cowwarr today and both clubs would love to celebrate a win however unless there is draw I suspect there can only be one winner when the final siren sounds. Not by choice but I have not had the opportunity to visit the home of the Tigers thus far this season but know they will be working hard on and off the field to have their club represented in the highest possible light and accordingly I wish them well. The Saints on the other hand will have trained hard this week in the hope of securing 4 points. In my eyes the Saints were a little unlucky to be on the wrong end of the stick last week against Sale City as they had opportunities to win but did not take them. Maybe this week it will be a different story. Regardless I trust a good day is had by all.
In other games the Roo’s will host the boys from YYN who are taking all before them in recent weeks. It is hard to see the Roo’s stopping the Bombers charge to the finals but one should never underestimate any team called Heyfield.
Rosedale will host the Pies and I think this could be a competitive match albeit the Blues are hard to beat home. Having said that the Pies will turn up holding no fear in their belly and with a solid victory under their belt last week.
The Doggies will take on TTU who will be fresh from last weeks bye. If the Doggies are thinking finals, they simply must win. On the other hand TTU must claim another scalp to be considered a genuine threat otherwise they could easily end up in the also ran category.
Finally, the Cats will host the Cougars. The Cats will be looking to put to bed some historic results and show to all and sundry there is a genuine reason for their 2021 ladder position, however, the Cougars will be looking for a few list inclusions and know they will need to be at their best today if they intend to depart the Cattery with 4 points in the bank.
Play hard but play fair and speak soon.
David J Kyle – President.