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“I thought, that’s a joke”: Goulburn Valley League causes upset with cancelled season’s premiers pick

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By Tricia Mifsud

DESPITE the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2021 season, the Goulburn Valley League has awarded premiers of each football and netball division – without any finals series being played.

Seymour Football Club’s senior side were league leaders for the majority of the season, winning the first nine matches.

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Two losses in the final two matches, disrupted by unavailable players and COVID-19 lockdowns, the Lions fell to third place by percentage.

As Echuca finished on top of the ladder at the abrupt conclusion of the season, they were awarded the premiership – angering many across the league.

Seymour senior coach Ben Davey said the decision did not ‘sit well’ with him.

“It’s just quite strange, and you haven’t seen this decision in any other league in Victoria, so I just don’t see how they went out on a limb and did it,” he said.

“You’ve cancelled the season, so how do you award a season?

“If it was us, and we were on top, I wouldn’t have wanted it.

“We’ve got a choice at everyone going against you, but if Echuca come out and say we don’t want it, everyone will think what a good club they are.”

Davey said he received several calls and messages on the day of the announcement, and agreed it was the right decision to cancel the remainder of the season.

He then received a message saying Echuca had been named premiers, and at first thought it was a joke.

“I looked at one message and it said Echuca’s the premiers and I thought, ‘that’s a joke, that’s funny’,” he said.

“And next thing I’ve got people ringing me, and Scotty Rowan (Euroa’s coach, who finished second in the seniors), and he is wild.

“I didn’t get that wound up, I thought it really wasn’t a season, so it wasn’t a premiership, and I wasn’t really worried about it.

“But then I started thinking about it and I thought, ‘you just can’t be doing that’.”

Davey believes club presidents had no say in whether or not premiers should have been awarded.

In a statement released by the league announcing the season would be over, it said the board made the decision to award premiers based on how hard all the clubs had worked through the interrupted season.

The statement also said the board met with the presidents of all 12 clubs, and almost half of them believed the season was over.

Others would have liked to wait another week or two before making a decision, but also conceded that more than likely, the 2021 season was over.

GVL board chairman David Roff said the decision wasn’t made lightly, and the lockdown’s extension across the state, the outbreak in Shepparton, and the overall safety of its players and community were contributors to the decision.

“We recognise the potential health implications within our communities, the financial burden of the shortened season and no finals to both our clubs and the league,” he said.

“Even if restrictions were to ease, we could quickly find ourselves back in another snap lockdown which could see finals further impacted.

“Further to that, we are still a long way off spectators being allowed back at games. We ultimately had to make the call in order to provide clarity to everyone at all of our clubs.”

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