Some coaches back HFNL pre-season cup, other says there’s too much down time

THE Hampden league will review the future of its pre-season football cup competition as coaches question its benefit.

The one-day round-robin tournament that guarantees sides two matches of two 20-minute halves was held for the fourth time on Saturday — but some hope it will be the last.

The nature of the competition means teams are forced to have long breaks between matches, which is exacerbated when teams which played matches early in the day qualify for the grand final.

Three coaches surveyed by The Standard back the concept, one is “sitting on the fence” and six are against it to varying degrees.

Warrnambool coach Scott Carter isn’t a fan.

“It should be reviewed and I question whether there is a need for a pre-season competition,” Carter said.

“It’s too long between games. If we had made the grand final we would have gone to Port Fairy at 8am and left the ground at 6.30pm. That would nearly have been a 12-hour day. I just don’t think we need it.”

Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving said he felt for Cobden and Warrnambool, which had breaks of more than four hours between matches on Saturday, making it difficult for players to warm up and cool down and then warm up again.

“The main thing that has come out of this is the player welfare and to make sure everyone is on a level playing field,” Irving said.

He said the competition should be played across two grounds to minimise breaks for clubs. He also suggested following the AFL’s lead and play full-length practice matches over two weekends against two rivals, as drawn by the league. He said clubs should be free to map out their own programs in the three weeks before the start of the season.

Cobden coach Stephen Hammond said he preferred to play practice matches against non-Hampden clubs.

“I don’t want to play against who we will play against in round one,” he said. 

“Why should they know who we’ve picked up? I don’t want to show them my hand before we play them.”

He said the waiting around between matches was tough on players as they cooled down.

“Us and Portland would have preferred to go to the pub and play darts than wait around for that last game. They have to change the format.”

Koroit coach Adam Dowie suggested the competition could be held before the long weekend in March to leave clubs to organise their own matches closer to the start of the season. 

“I think the intention of the Hampden league is good,” he said. “(But) you would rather a four-quarter hit-out against a really good opponent.”

North Warrnambool Eagles coach Bernard Moloney likes the competition.

“It’s promotion of your league and if you have to make a few sacrifices for your league, you just do it,” he said. “I think it’s important we support it.”

Hamilton Kangaroos coach Jarrod Holt is another in favour.

“I think it’s worthwhile. It’s what you make out of it. I enjoyed the day, getting around talking to the other coaches,” Holt said.

HFNL chief executive officer Mike Farrow said the executive would review the competition. He said there had been suggestions from some supporters teams could play back-to-back matches, giving them effectively a four-quarter match against two opponents.

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