Coburg plans follow-up Warrnambool VFL fixture

COBURG Football Club wants to bring VFL football to Warrnambool at Easter.

Club officials this week revealed they hoped to strengthen ties with the south-west Victorian city by hosting a clash at Reid Oval during the 2013 Easter long weekend.

The Tigers, the VFL affiliates of AFL club Richmond, will play Geelong at Reid Oval on Sunday as part of round 14 of the 2012 VFL season.

The fixture will be the first time in years state league football has featured in Warrnambool.

A Warrnambool-Geelong girls’ football match will be a curtain-raiser to the VFL showcase.

Coburg general manager Jake McCauley said a return trip was being planned.

McCauley said a regular VFL fixture in Warrnambool could help civic leaders secure funding for a redevelopment of the ageing Reid Oval.

“There’s the ability for local football to be able to upgrade facilities on the back of matches like this. It’s only going to assist their funding applications,” he said.

“We’re happy to play a small role in that. There’s already been talk about a match next year. We’ll see how the success of Sunday goes.

“The community has to vote for it with their feet, but there’s talk about coming back at Easter and maybe even tying it up with a TAC Cup match.

“We’ll see how Sunday goes first but all things being equal we’d like to build an ongoing relationship with Warrnambool.”

The 2012 VFL fixture features three matches in country Victoria.

Coburg hosted Bendigo at Shepparton in round 11, while Williamstown played Geelong at Torquay in round three, on Easter Sunday.

The Seagulls and Cats first played at Torquay in 2011 and McCauley said the success of the fixture prompted the Tigers to seek their own matches in the bush.

“From a broader point of view, AFL Victoria has a really strong push to take state league football into regional parts of Victoria,” he said.

Coburg forging links with Warrnambool could provide talented south-west footballers with another pathway to test themselves at state league level.

The relationship would also help the Tigers establish a supporter base in regional Victoria and improve their chances of survival.

The Age reported last week Coburg’s poor financial state had placed its alignment with Richmond, and its survival, under pressure. Richmond wants a stand-alone reserves side, something Collingwood and Geelong already have and Essendon will have next year.