THE 2014 Warrnambool and District Football Netball League season will get under way in March — one of the earliest starts in its history.
League officials have scheduled round one for Sunday, March 30, with only one of the six matches in Warrnambool.
The early start will ensure the grand final will not clash with the Hampden Football Netball League preliminary final, which was a possibility.
Instead, the decider — on September 6 — will run alongside the HFNL second semi-final as has been the case in recent years.
WDFNL president Ken McSween said the league considered putting its showcase match up against the HFNL preliminary final.
“We actually did contemplate it, but I suppose we decided it wouldn’t be any benefit for football in the south-west,” he said.
“Not so much for us but football in general. I think we could’ve gone up against them quite easily.”
McSween said round one matches had to be on Sunday, March 30, if the league was to use the last weekend in March for football.
Saturday, March 29, is a reserve day for Warrnambool and District Cricket Association grand finals should rain force delays in play.
“Most of the clubs said ‘if that’s when we start, that’s when we start’. No one really gave us any negative feedback at all,” McSween said.
The early start is the headline-grabbing aspect of a remarkable draw which has been months in the making.
Highlights include the traditional Good Friday match between Old Collegians and Merrivale at Davidson Oval in round four.
Timboon Demons also asked for a stand-alone match that weekend and will play Nirranda on Easter Sunday at Timboon.
Other notable features include:
n the senior football grand final rematch between Panmure and Dennington is at Dennington in round seven;
n there are two A grade netball grand final rematches between Old Collegians and Panmure, in rounds five and 17; and
n Super Saturday, the interclub initiative between WDFNL club Kolora-Noorat and HFNL club Terang Mortlake, will be on May 3 at Terang.
The Power takes on Timboon Demons and the Bloods meet Warrnambool. The initiative is into its fourth year.
Deakin University will play five matches at Mortlake’s D. C. Farran Oval, including two in the first three rounds due to netball court works.
The big winner is grand finalist Dennington. The Dogs play three home matches on days there is no HFNL football in Warrnambool.
The matches are also crowd-grabbers — against Panmure (round seven), Kolora-Noorat (round nine) and Merrivale (round 17).
Round 14 is split, with three matches on each of July 5 and July 12. The HFNL has a bye on July 5 and the three WDFNL fixtures are in Warrnambool.
“We could’ve gone with a bye but we figured we’d try and take advantage of Hampden’s bye slot,” McSween said. “We’ve slotted what we consider some fairly good games on the day Hampden has their bye.”
But the draw is far from ideal. The main negative is that most clubs have either three home games or three away games in a row.
Nirranda is the worst affected. The Blues play away from rounds four to six, home from rounds nine to 11 and away from rounds 14 to 16.
The other drawback is round 10 features the same match-ups as round 12, but at the reverse venues.
McSween said there could be more Sunday matches inserted into the draw at a later date.
“But we’re still trying to negotiate them,” he said.
“Ken Knowles has done a great job with the draw considering the constraints he had on it.”
n WDFNL DRAW, PAGE 43