Shepparton News




The decision by the Goulburn Valley League to award premiershi­ps in the now cancelled 2021 season caught plenty of followers off guard last week.

The league’s board agreed to award premiershi­ps in all grades due to the difficult challenges clubs faced this season.

The announceme­nt — which was made on Thursday — came as the coronaviru­s outbreak continues to reign over Victoria and the Goulburn Valley.

Although several days have passed, A-grade premier Shepparton United and senior football premier Echuca are still struggling to process the outcome.

“It’s a really hard and awkward situation, we don’t know how we feel about it,” United A-grade coach Tania Orchard said.

“Nobody has ever had to deal with this before, we really don’t know how to process it.”

United’s netballers finished in top spot with 10 wins and one loss, while Echuca (second) and Mooroopna (third) also finished the year on 40 points.

Orchard said the announceme­nt from the league had caught her and her side off guard.

“I had no idea until I received a call from a friend saying the league had cancelled the season,” she said.

“It really did catch us off guard. It’s not a way that anyone wants the season to end.

“The girls are really disappoint­ed that they can’t play finals and get a chance to try and play in a grand final.

“We aren’t ungrateful and we don’t blame the league either, I know it would have been an extremely hard decision to make.

“But it’s just left us in two minds, it’s a really difficult spot to be in.”

Despite the season ending the way it did, Orchard expressed how proud she was of her outfit.

“I’m extremely proud of the playing group,” she said.

“I know that the girls worked so hard over the past two years, from losing in 2019 to not playing last year and then everything that’s happened this year.

“The girls deserve to hold their heads up high and feel proud of everything they have achieved.”

Echuca president Ash Byrne said he was surprised by the call to cancel the season and award premiershi­ps.

The Murray Bombers finished in first position on the ladder with nine wins and two losses, the same as Seymour (second) and Euroa (third).

“It’s disappoint­ing for everyone, for the GVL board and for the clubs, but it is the sign of the times and the situation we are in,” Byrne said.

“We were having a good year, so to prematurel­y finish, you do feel a bit ripped off.

“But so do so many others, so we do need to keep some perspectiv­e.”

Byrne said there was ‘‘some glimmer of hope’’ during last Monday’s league presidents’ meeting that a final decision would be held off for as long as possible.

“Everyone did understand it was more unlikely to get up and going, but I was surprised when the news came through,” Byrne said.

“There was no discussion around premiershi­ps being awarded and there are some presidents querying whether it was the right thing to do.”

Byrne said he wouldn’t buy in to any of that discussion, but does look back on the past six months with pride given what his club had achieved.

“We’ve had an awesome year, both our footballer­s and netballers have been unbelievab­le,” he said.

“I believe we were leading the champion club (the George Hunter Cup), which is really significan­t for us and means a lot.

“There has been hiccups along the way, but with the players’ response and their attitudes to just go for it, I’m super proud of everything both on the grounds and courts, as well as off of it.”

Murray Bombers cocoach Simon Maddox said he didn’t yet know how to feel about being awarded the premiershi­p, with his playing group adamant it wanted to play finals.

He said it was somewhat of a hollow feeling, though doesn’t believe the season was compromise­d at all.

However, Byrne expects the decision will drive Echuca’s playing groups when play resumes next year.

“It will drive them on for sure; they will be determined to see a full finals series,” he said.

 ??  ?? Caught off guard: Shepparton United A-grade coach Tania Orchard said her side was caught off guard by the announceme­nt to award premiers in the now-cancelled Goulburn Valley League season.
Caught off guard: Shepparton United A-grade coach Tania Orchard said her side was caught off guard by the announceme­nt to award premiers in the now-cancelled Goulburn Valley League season.

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