Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Finals cancelled

- ~ with Josh Huntly

The Picola & District Football Netball League has cancelled the remainder of its 2021 season, following a meeting with clubs on Wednesday evening.

The season finals were initially postponed when NSW was plunged in to a COVID lockdown.

The decision to cancel the season came the night before the NSW Government announced a two week extension of lockdown.

No premiershi­p will be awarded, but a best and fairest count is still expected to be held.

League operations manager Shane Railton said clubs couldn’t realistica­lly make the return for a potentiall­y condensed finals series.

‘‘Clubs felt player interest was starting to wane a little bit. And as such it was more appropriat­e to make a call now rather than later,” he said.

‘‘We’ve got clubs that haven’t played since July 10.

‘‘You’re talking about 2 months and then going into a finals series that was potentiall­y going to be condensed — it just wasn’t going to happen.’’

Railton said the decision had the majority backing of clubs.

‘‘There were 10 clubs who were completely against the finals starting,’’ Railton said.

‘‘The remaining five were able to field some sides but there were some who were prepared to withdraw.

‘‘None of the clubs were interested in playing if it wasn’t a full-fledged Victoria and New South Wales competitio­n.’’

Mathoura Football Netball Club president Andrew Pridham says the league’s option looks the most appropriat­e, as on-going restrictio­ns either side of the border continue to pose a unique challenge on sport in the region.

The Timbercutt­ers finished seventh and were due to face Berrigan in an eliminatio­n final.

“You just think, ‘how long is it going to be before we get a start?’,” Pridham said.

“And even then, can you get crowds through? If you can’t get them in, it’s going to cost money to run finals.

‘‘Then there’s the cross-border rules. We have a split of Victorian and New South Wales players and our view is (finals) wasn’t going to be a true representa­tion of each club.

‘‘Clubs have already had a pretty hard stop-start year.’’

Deniliquin Rovers president John Glowrey said having a decision was better than waiting in limbo.

‘‘The PDFNL has always made every effort to keep our competitio­n up and running, which we thank them for,’’ Glowrey said.

‘‘I have no doubt that cancelling the finals was a very difficult decision for them, and one not made without a lot of considerat­ion.

‘‘Given all of the hard work the players, coaches and volunteers have put in over the year, it is a disappoint­ing way for our season to end — without finals and some sort of result.

‘‘However, at least we have a decision.’’ Glowrey said the cancellati­on of finals is particular­ly heart-breaking for the thirds football team and under 15s and C grade netballers, who have gone through the season undefeated.

‘‘It is a huge effort any year, but especially when you consider the stop-start nature of 2021. I think everyone understand­s you just have to take what you can get and make the most of it at the moment.’’

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