By Sam Watson
ON WEDNESDAY, the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition announced they would scrap the last home and away round and go straight into the finals series.
The decision came after two options were put to the clubs – try and squeeze in the last home and away game potentially without crowds or go straight into finals.
After clubs consulted with their respective committees, there was a 9-3 vote in favour of going straight into finals.
In the email sent to clubs confirming the final vote, there was no further information provided about when the finals would begin or what it would look like.
Clubs are still unsure whether the league will wait until crowds are allowed at finals, or if they get straight into action as soon as sport is allowed to be played.
The West Gippsland FNC is in a difficult position compared to most Gippsland leagues, with half the clubs in the league residing in Greater Melbourne.
Currently those clubs (Bunyip, Cora Lynn, Garfield, Koo Wee Rup, Nar Nar Goon, Tooradin Dalmore) can’t train or play games.
Once Greater Melbourne does come out of lockdown, the league may encourage clubs to start the finals straight away, or clubs may want to wait until crowds can be back in the venues.
If Melbourne comes out of lockdown next Thursday, it’s highly unlikely the West Gippsland finals will begin on the Saturday, as there will be too little time for Melbourne clubs to prepare, and too little time for Phillip Island and Inverloch Kongwak to organise the catering for the finals they’re hosting.
Clubs outside of Greater Melbourne are now able to train, which is a significant advantage compared to their counterparts who are still locked down. But in the football, Phillip Island and Inverloch Kongwak may face one disadvantage.
If either of those two sides win the second semi-final and book a spot in the grand final, they will have played just one game in over two months as preparation by the time the big day rolls around.
That’s why Phillip Island president Chris Ross said his club was one of the three to vote for one more regular season game to be played.
“We voted to play and try and get a hit out,” Ross said.
Ross also said he hoped crowds could come in for finals but he acknowledged that may not be possible.
“Fingers crossed they won’t have a finals series without crowds, but if it means that we’ll get games happening, I guess that’ll be it.
“I don’t think any of us know what’s going to happen,” Ross said.
Garfield president Chris Greenall said his club was another who voted for one more game, but he understands why the majority of the clubs chose to go straight into finals.
“I just wanted to give our guys one more game before they got into it, but with the way the lockdowns are looking I can see why that’d be difficult,” Greenall said.
In A Grade netball, the lack of games will also be the same for either Dalyston or Korumburra Bena.
Whoever wins out of those two goes straight into the grand final, where they would’ve had just one game leading up to it.
But at least they would’ve been able to train unlike their other key competitor in Tooradin Dalmore.
Tooradin Dalmore and Nar Nar Goon are also big chances in the senior football but they’ll be underdone due to no training by the time finals begin.
There will be no word on how and when the finals series will begin until there is more information about when Melbourne looks like it will come out of lockdown.