Lions get early chance to avenge grand final loss

SOUTH West District league football fans will have to wait just two weeks into the season for the first grand final rematch.

Heywood will seek to avenge its grand final defeat to Coleraine at Heywood Recreation Reserve in round two, on April 12.

League officials yesterday released the fixture for their 2014 season, which starts on April 5 and is without a bye after the Casterton-Sandford merger.

The first A grade netball grand final rematch between Cavendish and Heathmere is also part of round two action, at Heathmere Recreation Reserve.

The fixture release follows the SWDFNL annual meeting on Tuesday night, where president Selwyn Jones accepted the role for a second year.

Chrissie Hawker remains as the administrator while Ron Whennan is again vice-president.

Claydon McDonald has joined Vanessa Slattery as junior vice-president. McDonald replaces long-time servant Wayne Nunn.

Roger Merrett is the umpires’ representative on the league executive while Nikki Hudson has retained her role as netball president.

Jones said the SWDFNL community was excited about what could unfold after an off-season of many changes.

The biggest have been the loss of Sandford and Dartmoor adopting Giants as its nickname in place of Swans.

“Our league keeps evolving. When Heywood came into the league, that was hugely anticipated,” Jones said.

“It was always wondered whether Tyrendarra, as one of the leading District league sides, could beat Heywood, there was always that debate.

“This year with the Giants and no Sandford there is going to be a bit of a change.

“But we don’t believe all the players from Sandford will go to the Casterton-Sandford entity.

“Some are looking to go to Branxholme-Wallacedale, some are going to Cavendish and some are going to Coleraine.”

Jones said Dartmoor’s affiliation with AFL club Greater Western Sydney, which acknowledges the story of Jeremy Cameron, was positive for the league.

He said Dartmoor president Lee Lipscombe told him about the change in early December and asked to keep the information to himself.

“And it’s been pretty tough because it’s been so exciting. I was bubbling to tell anyone that will listen, but I had to sit on that,” he said.

“It was similar with Sandford. We did a lot of work to assist in what was best for them, even though it was potentially going to give us some short-term pain.

“With Dartmoor, we’ve been able to give them whatever support and advice they needed.

“They had a very small window from GWS when and how they could do it. We needed to be ready to go.”

In another boon for the league, all eight clubs will field an A grade netball side for the first time in a few years.

Dartmoor and Sandford were without representation last season, which created lengthy breaks between matches for other clubs.

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