New South Wales rescued the damsel in distress − the Sunraysia Football Netball League − last week with Millewa Football Netball League’s Gol Gol Hawks leading the recovery.
The Gol Gol Football Netball Club ground at Carramar Drive has been getting a workout the past few weeks – with the Hawks field not only being used for SFNL football, but also utilised for training for the academy football squad as well as Imperials Football Netball Club ahead of their first match back after the games were moved to NSW.
Before restrictions were eased in Victoria last night, it was planned Gol Gol would have hosted three days of football this weekend – tonight’s games between Gol Gol and Werrimull, the four remaining games of MFNL and Sunraysia Women’s Football League games tomorrow, and the SFNL round between Mildura and Ouyen on Sunday.
Gol Gol club president Paul Mensch said in terms of condition, the ground has probably been the best oval in town, but with its constant use, it was starting to get churned up.
“Given this, if people expect a pristine surface, they are going to be mistaken,” Mensch said.
“In saying that, it is still in better condition than Number One Oval, which cops a hiding all the time.”
Mensch said both the Millewa and Sunraysia leagues were in a unique position, unlike many other leagues in regional Victoria, where they can utilise grounds in NSW to continue competition if need be, and as proven with the SFNL.
While Gol Gol has been picking up a lot of the slack over the past week, the Euston and Wentworth grounds were also well utilised.
“If it wasn’t for these facilities, the league probably wouldn’t have been able to play,” Mensch added.
Last weekend Robinvale-Euston moved their game against Ouyen United from Robinvale to Euston, Imperials held their home game against South Mildura at Gol Gol and Red Cliffs crossed the bridge on Sunday to host Merbein at Dareton.
Wentworth’s game proceeded against Irymple as planned at Dareton on Saturday.
After the change last night, the SFNL will now proceed as following this weekend: Red Cliffs will play Wentworth (at Red Cliffs), Mildura will host Ouyen (Mildura), Irymple will come against South Mildura (Irymple) and Robinvale Euston will face Merbein at Euston, as previously planned.
While in the MFNL and SWFL the games between Gol Gol and Werrimull tonight weren’t going to change regardless of restrictions, both Bambill and Cardross (who face Meringur and Nangiloc respectively) have opted to move their games back to their home grounds.
Logistically, the SFNL tried to impact their clubs as little as possible last weekend – with the “home” team still receiving all gate takings as well as bar and canteen profits.
“Clubs who played ‘home’ games at other venues held lead-up discussions with the venue club to ensure a smooth transition,” SFNL executive officer Peter Walker said.
“In most cases clubs brought their own stock regarding drink and food at the bar and canteen outlets.”
Gol Gol were able to lock their bar fridges and “home” teams utilizing their grounds brought in eskies to chill drinks to sell to patrons.
Clubs had to move their canteen stock to the facility and had to utilise the equipment belonging to Gol Gol Football Netball Club.
Walker said it was hard to determine if clubs would financially suffer from having to move interstate, but given the clubs still hosted games, albeit at alternate venues, their club supporters would still attend.
“Also, the fact that the games have been spread over Saturdays and Sundays would see the potential to attract additional footy and netball fans to more matches.”
Red Cliffs were one of the club’s impacted by the move last weekend, with the Tigers holding their home game in Dareton.
However, Tigers president Tony Marciano said sacrificing a home game or two is a small price to pay for getting the kids on ground to play the game they love.
“We’ve had no shortage of volunteers who put their hand up to help with the transition,” Marciano said, estimating there was about six hours extra work gone into moving over the river.
“Our bar takings were down last weekend, given the location of the game and the need to travel a greater distance.
“The canteen was probably up 10 per cent on takings and our gate takings were as normal.
“But really, we do it all for the kids to get out there, and for that, the move is a small price to pay.”