REID Oval is the preferred venue for September’s Hampden football league grand final.
Eight out of 10 senior coaches say Warrnambool should host the season decider with Reid Oval the number one choice.
While league officials are yet to decide the grand final venue, inevitably every September fans and clubs other than Warrnambool argue the game should be taken to another venue if the Blues are playing. With Warrnambool having played in the past six grand finals, including three premierships in four seasons, only one coach surveyed by The Standard raised the issue of the Blues’ home ground advantage.
Port Fairy coach Sam Rudolph said another ground should host the grand final if the Blues qualified.
“I don’t think it should be played at the Reid, just for the fact it’s Warrnambool’s home ground,” Rudolph said. “(They are) playing every second week on it and training on it and knowing the ground in and out and other teams not having that exposure and experience on the ground puts them at an advantage.
“It comes down to what ground is there after the Reid? There’s not much so you probably have to say the Reid but I’d like to see another oval used but I am not sure what one though.”
Cobden coach Stephen Hammond said the grand final should be played at another venue.
Hammond is pushing for Mortlake’s D. C. Farran Oval to host the grand final, arguing its size and condition of the playing surface make it ideal. With Terang Mortlake only playing three games at the ground and Warrnambool and District league club Deakin University playing five there, Hammond said the surface would be better.
“It’s a big ground, no one plays there and they can get it ready,” Hammond said.
“The facilities aren’t the best but they have the whole season to get them there.”
Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving backs the Reid Oval as the preferred venue.
“I haven’t got any issues with playing the grand final at Reid Oval,” he said.
“The big thing is it is made available to the two sides competing in it. Say it is a Koroit and Cobden grand final, it might be an option to let them train on it in the lead up to it.
“Or even if it is Warrnambool playing in it.”
Irving said the Friendly Societies’ Park didn’t have the spectator facilities to hold the grand final.
“You’d be loathe to take it out of Warrnambool,” he said.
“Mortlake is the ideal ground to play on but the facilities need an upgrade.”
South Warrnambool coach Matthew Monk described Reid Oval as the “home of football”. North Warrnambool Eagles coach Bernard Moloney is in favour of a Reid Oval grand final but believes there should be more reward for finishing higher on the ladder.
“Whoever finishes second and whoever finishes fourth has a home final,” he said.
“And same for the prelim — whoever finishes higher gets the opportunity, give them the home final.
“If Portland is in the prelim and plays someone who finished fourth or fifth, give Portland the final.
“You’ll still get people through the gates.
“At this stage I don’t think there is enough reward for finishing higher on the ladder and I think home ground early in the finals could be the solution to that.”
League chief executive officer Mike Farrow said Reid Oval was the front-runner to host the grand final. But with redevelopment works due to be completed on an electronic scoreboard and netball changeroom facilities in August, the league would have to wait until much later in the season before locking in a venue.