By David Nagel
Beaconsfield’s sparkling facility at Holm Park Reserve will book-end the 2017 South East Football Netball League (SEFNL) finals series after winning hosting rights for this year’s grand final.
The Eagles’ home ground will kick things off on Saturday 26 August, hosting the qualifying final, before Berwick and Pakenham take control of further preliminaries before the action returns to Holm Park for the biggest dance of all on Saturday 16 September.
Berwick will be the home of Sunday sport, hosting the elimination and first semi-finals on 27 August and 3 September respectively, with Pakenham’s Toomuc Reserve the home of the second semi-final on Saturday 2 September before backing up with the preliminary final on 9 September.
Beaconsfield Football Club president Troy Robinson said the club was excited to be hosting the biggest event on the SEFNL calendar.
“We pride ourselves on the great facilities we have here at Beaconsfield, and it’s a massive opportunity for us to showcase those facilities on the biggest stage,” Robinson said.
“We’re focused on this becoming a great event with a heavy community involvement and we want community groups from around the area to share in the benefits. The Upper Beaconsfield CFA is already on board, and there are plenty of options we need to discuss as we work through our planning phase.”
Beaconsfield, Berwick and Pakenham were the only clubs to tender to host finals; a process shortened after the league’s governing body – AFL South East – reversed its original decision to host the grand final under lights at Casey Fields.
Pressure from the nine SEFNL clubs- who were unanimous in their support of a day grand final- forced AFLSE to change its mind.
Robinson said the football and netball clubs were hoping to bring the community together for the day.
“We want to bring a carnival atmosphere to the day, because it’s not just a celebration for Beaconsfield, it’s a celebration for the community and for SEFNL as a whole,” he said.
“We’d love all nine clubs to be involved in some capacity and bring a great family atmosphere to the day. We only have a small window to get ready now, but we intend to bring a point of difference with the sole focus on attracting as many people as possible to what should be a great event.”
Officer has hosted the last two SEFNL grand finals – and its expertise has been called upon.
“Barry (Officer president Barry O’Loughlin) has been great with his advice, just advising us of the little bits and pieces that made their experience so rewarding,” Robinson said.
“Barry has been brilliant with his support, even to the point of offering us equipment to borrow on the day.”
The main issue regarding Beaconsfield as a suitable host for the grand final centred on its ability to segregate vehicles and pedestrians on a busy stretch of Beaconsfield-Emerald Road.
Robinson said the club was taking traffic management responsibilities very seriously indeed.
“We will have limited parking at the ground, up to 500 cars, but we have Akoonah Park and Perc Allison Reserve to help us out in that regard,” Robinson said.
“Our main concern is getting pedestrians safely to and from the ground, and we will employ a traffic management company to make sure the transition is done in a safe way. We’ve hosted two VFL games this year, so our experience is building, but we expect this crowd to exceed anything we’ve seen before … the key driver being the weather.”
SEFNL Leagues manager Liz Triffitt said the league was confident that Beaconsfield would do an outstanding job.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank all three clubs for taking part in the tender process and for offering up three outstanding venues to host this year’s finals series,” Triffitt said.
“The Holm Park Reserve facility is a great venue, and we’re confident Beaconsfield will showcase the league in the best possible way.”
Triffitt also confirmed that the league will produce a hard-copy footy record for the duration of the finals series.
SEFNL FINALS SERIES VENUES
Saturday 26 August – Qualifying Final at Beaconsfield
Sunday 27 August – Elimination Final at Berwick
Saturday 2 September – Second semi-final at Pakenham
Sunday 3 September – First semi-final at Berwick
Saturday 9 September – Preliminary Final at Pakenham
Saturday 16 September – Grand Final at Beaconsfield