Kyabram Free Press


Board backs down on flags after backlash

- By Gus Underwood

The Goulburn Valley League board has backflippe­d on its decision to award premiershi­ps after it ruled to cancel its season last week in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since the announceme­nt on Thursday, social media ran rife condemning the decision which was made by the board without consultati­on with the clubs.

The initial decision meant all teams finishing on top of the ladder in both football and netball were declared the premier.

In the case of the Echuca Football Netball Club, the Murray Bombers were declared premiers in all four grades of football.

The GVL’S backflip yesterday means Echuca will now be dcelared minor premier in 2021, not premier.

Echuca seniors secured top spot in the last round played on August 14 when it displaced Seymour in top place after beating Shepparton while Seymour lost by less than a kick to Mooroopna.

It was the first time Echuca had occupied top spot on the ladder in the 11 rounds played for the season.

The overwhelmi­ng opinions expressed on social media were of disbelief that premiershi­ps could be given without finals being played and in a disjointed seasons in which some clubs had not played each other once and some had played each other twice.

Despite the shortened season, the GVL is recognisin­g all individual awards including the league’s best and fairest medals.

Murray League clubs have voted against awarding premiershi­ps and individual awards, given the season was cancelled.

It means Tongala, who was unbeaten and sitting on top of the ladder, misses out on breaking a 37-year premiershi­p drought.

The league’s general manager Dale Norman said when clubs were consulted, they gave a clear mandate premiershi­ps should not be awarded which was then ratified by its board.

‘‘It might have been a bit different if we had played some finals but it was felt that once the season was cancelled no flags or individual awards would be given,’’ Norman said.

‘‘Naturally the league has great sympathy for Tongala but in the circumstan­ces the league is happy with its decision.”

Last week Tongala coach Jordan Souter said his club, despite winning all its 13 games and seeking it first flag 37 years, would not like to win the flag in this manner.

Lancaster co-coach and club legend Corey Carver echoed Souter’s sentiments.

‘‘I wouldn’t be comfortabl­e winning the flag like that,’’ said Carver who has led the Wombats to win all of its 11 games for the season with his club searching for its first flag for 10 years.

Carver said he would be a lot more comfortabl­e declaring the side that finished on top of the ladder as the minor premier but not the premier.

The Picola and District Football Netball League will be awarding league medals and league individual awards after cancelling its season last week.

The league’s general manager Shane Railton said because every side had played each other once, member clubs expressed an opinion individual awards should still stand.

■ Gus Underwood’s comments on the controvers­ial decision are in his Sporting Snapshots on page 18.

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