By Hayley Wildes and Russell Bennett
For local footy and netball fans, it’s the dream scenario – the WGFNC versus the EDFL/EDNA on the interleague stage.
It’s what they’ve been craving ever since Cora Lynn, Bunyip, Garfield, Kooweerup, and Nar Nar Goon left the EDFL to join the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition for 2017 along with Dalyston, Inverloch Kongwak, Kilcunda Bass, Korumburra-Bena, and Phillip Island from the Alberton league.
And later this month, they have their chance to watch it all unfold – at Yarragon on 18 May.
Clearly, the Ellinbank and District Football League (EDFL) and Ellinbank and District Netball Association will have their work cut out for them. But they know the task at hand, and they’re excited about the challenges it brings.
“We realise we’re going to be up against it, but we just felt to have a local derby would be fantastic,” EDFL operations manager Ken Moore said.
“For football in the local region, it would be better to play a local derby against West Gippsland, rather than the other option of potentially going to a place in the middle of nowhere and having to travel.”
After claiming an impressive win over the Horsham District Football League in 2018, the EDFL is looking to build on that success and that’s why the 2019 squad remains largely unchanged from last year.
“The majority of the guys from last year are in the squad again just to reward those guys – they stuck their necks out last year to help the league out by coming along, so they’ll get first priority,” EDFL coach Daniel Fry said.
“We’ll look forward to playing a West Gippsland side that is hopefully at full-strength, because I don’t want any excuses if the result does go our way.”
Moore spoke about the importance of having Fry re-commit to the team.
“Daniel was great last year – it was his first year as a senior interleague coach and he embraced the occasion,” Moore said.
“He just exudes enthusiasm and a lot of these chaps don’t get the opportunity to play at a higher level, so this is a big opportunity for them and Daniel is the person who encourages them to take it on.”
Former teammates and foes will face off once again, and in the case of the Wells brothers; Danny and Jason, family ties will be set aside all in the name of interleague bragging rights.
The renewing of old rivalries is something that excites both Fry and Moore.
“There will be a few who have played against one another in the past and probably played with one another at times too – I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of squad they throw up, that’s for sure.” Fry said.
“I think the players will have a lot more respect for one another because they would’ve seen each other play in many cases and I think that’s going to be exciting for the players,” Moore said.
“I think they’ll enjoy playing against players they know – they won’t know all the players, but they’ll know a fair sprinkling.
The EDFL squad boasts names that followers of the league will know very well. The likes of reigning league and fairest winners Russ Lehman and Jack Hazendonk, midfield stars such as Paul Pattison, Tye Holland and Dylan Heylen, and a forward line that boasts Ilan Osman, Hayden Baker and Adam Cook.
“There’s going to be a pretty good mix of youth – we’ll try to pick the most versatile side we can and then we’ll try to adapt to whatever is thrown at us,” Fry said.
“The two reigning league best and fairest winners are going to be pretty honest and we’ve got Matt Gray – you know what you’re going to get out of him; he’s a stalwart, he’s been around a long time and played a lot of interleague footy.”
With local bragging rights on the line, expect this 2019 EDFL squad to come out firing at Yarragon and not take a backwards step.
West Gippsland coach Mark Lafferty echoed Fry’s comments. He and his group can’t wait for the clash, either. In fact, he said “100%” his group is excited by the prospect of not only winning, but winning big.
But, he also spoke of his disappointment at the clash not being held at Casey Fields, which the Gazette understands was floated as an option initially.
Backing up Lafferty as his assistant will be Brent Clinnick, who’s no stranger to the EDFL, himself.
Six of the top seven goal-kickers in the WGFNC have already indicated their willingness to be involved in interleague this year, and that includes former North Melbourne and Melbourne big man Cam Pedersen who has started 2019 in sensational form.
The WGFNC senior squad features eight players who were part of last year’s comprehensive 44-point win over the Maryborough Castlemaine and District Football League at Garfield.
2019 WGFNC PRELIMINARY SENIOR INTERLEAGUE SQUAD
Bunyip: Nathan Allen, Jeb McLeod and Aaron Paxton.
Cora Lynn: Heath Briggs, Nathan Gardiner, Chris Johnson, Jai Rout, Rylan Smith, and Troy Tharle.
Dalyston: Ryan Silver, Clay Tait, and Kurt Thomas.
Garfield: Corie Intveen, Tanner Stanton, and Michael Wallace.
Inverloch Kongwak: Corey Casey and Dylan Clark.
Kilcunda Bass: Shelton Rosario and Jake Weightman.
Kooweerup: Nathan Voss and Jason Wells.
Korumburra-Bena: Ben Fitzpatrick and Bailey Patterson.
Nar Nar Goon: Jake Blackwood, Sam Blackwood, Trent Noy, Tyler Payroli, Jake Smith and Troy Toussaint.
Phillip Island: Mark Griffin, Cam Pedersen, Jack Taylor, Zak Vernon, and Jaymie Youle.
Tooradin-Dalmore: Andrew Dean, Nick Lang, Brad Lenders, Matt Livermore, Luke McKenna, and Waide Symes.
2019 EDFL PRELIMINARY SENIOR INTERLEAGUE SQUAD
Buln Buln: Tom Axford, Hayden Baker, Trent Baker, Matt Gray, and Jake Pierrehumbert.
Catani: Dale Johnson, Paul Pattison and Nic Visser.
Ellinbank: Adam Cook, Josh Peterson, Tim Mashado, and Mark Vassett.
Longwarry: Tye Holland, Russ Lehman, Kane Oldham, Nick Redley, Aaron Serong, and Danny Wells.
Neerim Neerim South: Nathan Bayne, Cal Shiels, Chris Urie, and Jack Ward.
Nilma Darnum: Ben Campbell and Nathan Campbell.
Nyora: Brad Arnold, Dylan Heylen, and Ilan Osman.
Poowong: Tim Hancock, Jack Hazendonk, Jayden Sullivan, and Tom Wyatt.
Yarragon: to be advised.