We would like to express our disappointment at the announcement of this year’s Alberton Football Netball League finals venues and in particular the 2013 grand final being taken outside our league to the Wonthaggi venue. As volunteers to country football we believe our community clubs should work towards improving their facilities in every effort to make our grounds available for finals. We (Geoff McCraw and Marilyn Flett) have personally made contributions to 14 grand finals hosted at Foster from 1996 to 2009 and then again in 2012. This was done as a commitment to our League and to local competing clubs, including players, supporters, netballers and umpires.
Countless hours have been given as we believed our ground offered the best spectator venue and atmosphere for finals and that our efforts and those at the Foster Football Club were not for financial gain but for the benefit of the Alberton Football Netball League. The decision to take the grand final to Wonthaggi, we understand, is partly due to a financial offer from the Bass Coast Shire Council. We believe that the principle of our clubs in applying for grants and improving their facilities is for the benefit of all clubs competing in our league and therefore encourages venues to apply for finals. This principle with ground improvements has been acknowledged with Toora and DWWWW in this year’s finals selection. Foster Football Club had applied for a night final on this principle having completed their $150,000 grant lighting upgrade but was unsuccessful in this year’s selection.
Everyone has acknowledged night games held at Foster with lights approved to Australian Football League standard have been an outstanding success. It must also be acknowledged that Foster did not apply for the 2013 grand final due to the playing surface which is due for ground improvements. Priorities for finals selection in past years have included: spectator facilities and their ability to create atmosphere, ground conditions, neutral venues, netball and umpire facilities, parking and the limit of travel for catering clubs. Selection of finals venues in 2013, while assisting catering clubs, should not make this as the number one priority. Host club requirements offer many volunteer hours prior to the event and on the day. Who will provide this at Wonthaggi? Finals atmosphere thrives on local town competition which will be lost when finals are moved outside the local region. We believe some decisions should not be made on purely financial reasons but what benefits the Alberton Football Netball League’s clubs and their place in the local community. There is nothing to be compared with a local town supporting their local football/netball teams in a local grand final.
Marilyn Flett and Geoff McCraw, Foster.