By Sam Watson
THE Ellinbank and District Football League announced their senior season has been called off this morning.
After recent correspondence from AFL Gippsland and AFL Victoria and in accordance with the AFL Victoria COVID-19 framework guidelines that require a 14-day training period for players and umpires, the board of management said they have “no alternative” other than to call off the 2021 senior season.
The league had previously stated they would not go ahead without Melbourne players and that October 2 would be the last possible date they would host a grand final.
The league said the two-week training provision meant the earliest a single game could be played was October 9, which also relied on Melbourne coming out of lockdown on September 23.
The board of management also said there would be no guarantee that football would be allowed to be played if they planned for a date after some lockdown restrictions lift.
It’s a brutal blow for Ellinbank who were yet to lose a game in the seniors, and were the red-hot favourites to take home the flag.
There has been no word on whether there will be a premiership awarded to the top side, but nearly every league in Victoria has elected to not crown a premier.
It seems it will be the same for Ellinbank, especially when there wasn’t a completely even draw.
However, the board of management is still holding out hope for junior finals to be played.
If regional Victoria comes out of lockdown soon, they will play two preliminary finals on September 18.
And if they can’t play on September 18, they will host the preliminary finals on Friday, September 24 or Sunday, September 26, with the AFL Grand Final set to be played on Saturday, September 25.
They will then play the grand final on October 2 if they are forced to go down that path.
The Ellinbank decision to call off the season may be the first of many local leagues today.