K rock Football

Xmas hope for local fixtures

Nick Connors takes off before kicking his match-winning goal in the 2019 GFL Grand Final. (Sports Media Image)

AFL Barwon hopes to have the GFL and BFL fixtures publicly available by Christmas despite delays in the AFL releasing its schedule for 2021.

And the local governing body says it will work with the GDFL to avoid a clash of grand final weekends with the BFL in 2021.

AFL Barwon has released the GFL and BFL fixtures in early December in recent years, around a month after the AFL, with it needing to factor in Geelong’s home games at GMHBA Stadium when factoring in St Mary’s matches at Anthony Costa Oval.

“I think what we’re going to have to do is look to plan with the knowledge that we’ve got,” AFL Barwon Region General Manager Will McGregor said.

“Once we understand what the AFL is doing, we’ll look to be flexible from there.

“St Mary’s as a club this year have shown they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get a game up.

“I imagine they’ll work with the other clubs and us to make changes if they’re affected.”

AFL Barwon is hoping to re-start local football on Easter weekend (April 2-4) with the BFL, with the potential for matches on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.

However, the GFL may not necessarily start the following week, with AFL Barwon and the GDFL both keen to for each local grand final to have clear air in September.

“We want to make sure that we’re working with the GDFL in ensuring there’s no clash with their fixture and we’ve got some weekends at the back end of the season where the region’s able to watch each individual grand final without a clash,” McGregor said.

“We’ve got a good enough relationship across the region, and we’ve shown with the decisions we’ve made this year, we should be able to work with each other so that all leagues across the region benefit.”

GDFL president Neville Whitley said: “I’d like to think there wouldn’t be a clash.

“It depends on what byes that have. If they play Easter and only have one bye for the year, then we might be able to fit it in without a clash.

But if they have two byes, which they’ve normally had, then there could be a clash.

“We’ll have a look at that when the draws come out.”

Whitley, who confirmed the GDFL fixture planned for 2020 would be rolled out next year, expects their season to start on April 10.

“We always have a bye at Easter, wherever it falls,” he said. “Fortunately, it falls on the first weekend of April this year, so it fits in quite well.

“We’ll have a bye Queen’s Birthday weekend and see where we go from there.”

McGregor said AFL Barwon was also looking at using the same unused fixture from 2020 next year.

Our starting position is that the fixture will roll out as it would have in 2020,” he said. “But what we’ve done is communicate with clubs to determine whether they’re supportive of that.

“Or if they think that there are some other things that have cropped up and we may have to make some tweaks and changes.

“I’m trying to think of reasons why we’d alter the fixtures.

“Even if COVID is around, it doesn’t mean we should alter the fixtures. It will just mean that, potentially, we’ve got greater restrictions on the games being played.”

Twitter: @tom_king79