THE Hampden league’s gamble to play its qualifying final in Warrnambool against the District league preliminary final paid dividends.
Chief executive officer Mike Farrow revealed Saturday’s fixture was a crowd-pleaser.
“It’s the second-best qualifying final gate in the past five years,” Farrow said.
The Hampden league upset Warrnambool and District Football Netball League officials by playing the match at the Friendly Societies’ Park, a few kilometres from where it was staging its preliminary final at Reid Oval.
It was the first time the Hampden league has gone head-to-head in Warrnambool against the District league’s preliminary final since 2009.
The WDFNL has maintained the leagues had a gentlemen’s agreement whereby the HFNL would take its qualifying final out of Warrnambool, avoiding a clash against the district league preliminary final.
Farrow would not disclose gatetakings in keeping with his policy of waiting until the finals series is over.
Sunday’s elimination final at Cobden was also a winner at the gate, being the third-best in the past five years.
Hampden league president Hugh Worrall said he was rapt with the successful opening to the finals series.
“Both days lived up to what we thought they would be — it was tremendous,” Worrall said.
He said the league ran out of records before the start of the senior games on both days and promised that situation would be addressed for Saturday’s second semi-final at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval on Saturday.
“The club sponsors and supporters will support the club no matter where they play,” he said.
“It was very successful, financially and with the crowd support.”
WDFNL president Ken McSween said the preliminary final hadn’t suffered as a result of the Hampden league’s move to play in Warrnambool.
“We had a good crowd. It was the same as last year basically,” he said.
But McSween would prefer the Hampden league play out of Warrnambool next year.
“We thought we’d get a good crowd but the whole thing (gentlemen’s agreement) was basically in place so more people can look at different competitions.
“It is disappointing from my point of view.
“Everyone works so hard and I think it is good that everyone gets their time in the sun, whether that is District league or Hampden league.
“They get their place in the sun because we have moved our season forward so they can do it.”
McSween said the sunny weather had worked in both leagues’ favour.
“It was a really good crowd but what else do you expect — the sun was shining and everyone was out and about.
“If the weather is on your side, you don’t have any problems.”
McSween said the district league was bullish about the grand final.
“This weekend the weather is meant to be very similar to last Saturday,” he said.