No VFL in the bush

NORTH Ballarat Roosters officials say the club hopes to stage a VFL match in Warrnambool within two years.

Roosters football manager Marg Richards said a clash against Geelong at Reid Oval would come under consideration when club officials received the 2014 VFL fixture.

Reid Oval hosted state league football last season when Coburg transferred its home match against Geelong to Warrnambool in June.

But the city was a noticeable absentee from the 2013 fixture, which AFL Victoria released this week.

There is just one match at a non-traditional VFL venue next season, with Geelong taking on Williamstown at Torquay on Easter Saturday.

AFL Victoria’s attitude to staging matches in regional areas, save for Bendigo and Ballarat where there are VFL clubs, is that the initiative must come from collaborating clubs.

The approach is in stark contrast to that of Victoria Premier Cricket, which sends its 18 clubs to the bush for one round each season.

Richards said North Ballarat playing in Warrnambool was “something we’d certainly like to do”.

“It was something that didn’t quite work out this year,” she said.

“The obvious choice to play in terms of playing in Warrnambool would be Geelong. We don’t have a home game against Geelong this year. We’re only scheduled to play away against them this year.

“We’ve certainly discussed it in our planning and we would’ve loved to do it last year, but Coburg got in ahead of us.”

The Roosters will play the Cats at Simonds Stadium on July 6. It is a curtain-raiser to a TAC Cup clash between Geelong Falcons and North Ballarat Rebels.

Geelong’s VFL football operations manager Ben Waller said the club had no plans to host a match in Warrnambool.

The Cats will be the home team for the match at Torquay in 2013 after two years of Williamstown hosting the match.

“We see it as an important part of our development program, retaining home-ground advantage, having our young players learn how to play at Simonds Stadium,” Waller said.

Waller said Geelong would be content playing an away match at Reid Oval “providing the playing surface and facilities were of a high standard”. He said the Cats’ June trip to Warrnambool went well, despite rain destroying the match as a spectacle.

“The facilities there were of a good size. We were able to do everything we’d normally do in a pre-match,” he said.

“The coaches’ box was in an elevated position, which you don’t normally get at a lot of regional grounds.”

AFL Victoria communications manager Anthony Stanguts said the organisation did not force clubs to play in the bush.

“From an AFL Victoria perspective, the clubs are encouraged to look at regional games and to work with local councils and clubs to work out what the possibilities are to take state league football out to the regions,” he said.

afawkes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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