Home final: How about earning it?

Eight out of 10 Hampden league senior football coaches chose Reid Oval as the best place for the grand final.
Eight out of 10 Hampden league senior football coaches chose Reid Oval as the best place for the grand final.

ON the eve of the season, eight out of 10 Hampden league senior football coaches were happy for the grand final to be played at Warrnambool's Reid Oval.

With tenant Warrnambool sitting a game clear on top of the ladder after 11 games, that number would probably be down to one.

The Blues boast an average winning margin of 61.2 points at home this season, compared with 42.2 points away. Playing at home the Blues are a three-goal better side.

Arguing where the grand final will be played is pointless: the league's bylaws say it will be at Reid Oval. But that won't stop the debate, especially among rival clubs and supporters, who sense a conspiracy against them.

You didn't hear Fremantle coach Ross Lyon wanting last year's AFL grand final moved from the MCG because it was one of Hawthorn's home grounds. Yet rivals still feel aggrieved if they face Warrnambool on their home ground in a grand final. Go figure.

The cynicism of rivals is no doubt fuelled by the fact none of them receive home-game finals, with the league generally scheduling senior footy games at neutral venues. Why doesn't that continue for the one game that really matters, they argue?

If neutral venues are going to remain, how then are Portland and Hamilton Kangaroos ever going to hold a final?

Looking at the five, an elimination final between Portland and Cobden would be unlikely to be held at Hamilton and even less likely at Portland .

Warrnambool would seem a logical venue roughly equal distance for both to travel.

But what if the league, supporters and clubs looked at finals venues differently. Instead of trying to conjure neutral venues, what about rewarding the side that finishes higher with a home final for, say, the first three weeks of the series?

A final in towns furthest from the biggest population centre of Warrnambool will only draw a big crowd if the home side is playing. The league has plenty of proof and such a system will ensure a more equitable distribution of hosting rights.

If such a system was introduced, clubs would only have themselves to blame for not finishing higher and supporters couldn't argue with that.


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