IF YOU listen to AFL Gippsland, everything will be hunky-dory in Alberton’s seven-club competition next year. We hope they’re right.
But there was certainly a strong sense about it being the end of an era on grand final day at Meeniyan last Saturday, with five strong clubs set to depart the scene in 2017.
And ironically, just as it was back in 2009 when Stony Creek defeated Wonthaggi Power ahead of their promotion to the Gippsland League, one of the teams that’s staying behind, in the supposedly weaker district competition, Fish Creek, won the flag!
And they didn’t miss the chance of a cheeky final sledge in their run-through banner before the big game: “For 125 years we’ve withstood the test, 2016 will be our success. 17 flags in the Alberton, and they have none. Let’s send IK out without even one!”
After a dour, unspectacular struggle it was Fish Creek’s first premiership since they strung three together in 2000, 2001 and 2002; two of those wins also against IK, and didn’t they enjoy the moment.
While we’re not likely to see a Fish Creek versus IK grand final again for a long time, sports fans can look forward to a repeat of the cracking A Grade netball grand final, won in thrilling style by Dalyston, breaking a four-flag streak by the Giants.
With both clubs making the move to the new West Gippsland League, at least they can resume their fantastic rivalry.
Despite the sub-text though, Saturday’s grand final day at Meeniyan was a great community celebration; bringing together family groups, past players, friends and sports fans from right across the region for a common purpose. May we never lose that, whatever else changes.
Alberton’s last hurrah