DEAKIN University president Luke Jackson has questioned the sustainability of the Warrnambool and District league after his Sharks failed to score against premiership favourite Panmure on Saturday.
The round-eight contest was meant to be somewhat of a showcase at D.C. Farran Oval for Deakin to strengthen its bond with affiliated town Mortlake.
However, with the grey skies and bucketing rain also came the unthinkable.
Panmure thumped the hapless Sharks 21.21 (147) to 0.0 (0).
Jackson yesterday told The Standard there was a silver lining to the storm and instead put the spotlight back on the league.
“There’s two ways of looking at it,” he said.
“Panmure are the best team in the competition and they’ve got Hampden league players who are not on their way out. Realistically, we probably went in thinking anything less than a 30-goal difference wouldn’t be too bad, and we held them to 21 goals.”
Jackson said the standard of football was continuing to lift in the league, largely due to the recruiting of capable Hampden players.
He said Deakin University and other lesser clubs were struggling to compete.
“It (Saturday’s result) says a lot about the state of the district league,” he said.
“Money’s dictating it and it’s unsustainable.
“We could go and spend $40,000 next year but probably still wouldn’t be enough.
“You’ve got to come up with six figures if you want to get into that top-three position.
“Everyone is trying to chase that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but Warrnambool can’t service that.
“What do sponsors get out of it? That warm, fuzzy feeling inside doesn’t last for long.
“Clubs aren’t the family clubs they used to be.”
Jackson hoped clubs would soon realise their methods of gaining success were not in the interest of grass-roots football.
Despite the Sharks’ devastating loss, the president promised the club would push along.
“There will only be one club that gets the premiership this year and five or so others will walk away shrugging their shoulders having spent all of that money,” he said.
“But we’re like a power station out at Deakin.
“We’ll keep surviving.”
League president Justin Balmer yesterday said it was the first time he knew of a district senior team being held scoreless in his 30 years of involvement in local football.
“As far as the record books show, it hasn’t happened before,” he said.
“I feel very sorry for Deakin. But they’re trying very hard.”