Regional

Battle royale as three leagues become one

Sponsored by THINK! Road Safety

The formation of the Limestone Coast Football League has provided some 300 male players in the State’s south east with an opportunity to play a season in 2020. We look at how this unique league during ‘COVID’ is off to a flying start, thanks to Think! Road Safety. 

By Nick Dillon

Three leagues, 26 clubs, but no footy in 2020.

That is what was facing the South East region of South Australia when the Covid-19 pandemic hit earlier this year.

With clubs wary of managing new protocols and restrictions given limited resources and volunteers, at one stage it looked like no footy would be played at all.

However, six clubs decided to forge ahead and with the help of league officials,  SANFL and the Limestone Coast Regional Football Council, the Limestone Coast Football League became South Australia’s newest league.

While the league will consist of only six minor round games and only last one year, footy will still be played in the South East.

“We had a number of clubs who were very, very keen to continue playing football so we had to come up with a way of involving them and their communities into a senior competition,” said SANFL Football Operations Coordinator South East Michael Mourbey.

“The only way we could do it was to put them all into a completely new league.

“It’s not just for football, it’s for communities who have been locked up for a while without footy and socialising.”

The league is made up of Western Border clubs North Gambier, West Gambier and South Gambier, who occupied the top three spots on the ladder last season, Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara premier Mundulla and wooden spooner Kybybolite and Mid South East premier Kalangadoo.

Mr Mourbey is expecting an “interesting” competition.

“Mount Gambier has 25,000 people so it’s a big town and the clubs there have a big advantage because of the population base,” he said.

“But the town also services the Mid South East league so there’s a lot of good footballers playing there, and the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara league has traditionally always been very strong itself.

“From a KNT perspective, a lot of the players come down from the city so there’s been a lot of movements or permits back to the Adelaide Footy League.

“Mundulla has a strong local base and haven’t been affected too much and they’ve picked up some players from a couple of other local clubs.

“’Kyby’ has a younger side, but like Mundulla they have a players coming in from other clubs.

“South Gambier and East Gambier have a number of players from MSE clubs who want a game which has bolstered their squads.

“North Gambier hasn’t brought anyone in, but still beat South last week by five goals.”

“It’s not just for football, it’s for communities who have been locked up for a while without footy and socialising.”

SANFL Football Operations Coordinator South East Michael Mourbey

And the feedback from the competing clubs has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

“Each of the clubs competing have said that it’s really great to play against different clubs,” Mr Mourbey said.

“Teams in the Western Border where you play each other three or four times a year, can’t wait to travel away to play Kybybolite, Mundulla or Kalangadoo.

“We’ve actually got the three premiers from each league, so a team like Mundulla which won in the KNTFL is looking forward to taking on (Western Border FL premier) North Gambier to see where they sit.”

Of course the new league has intensified talk of a new super league for the South East, particularly after the introduction of the Limestone Coast Women’s Football League in 2018, but Mr Mourbey believes the three leagues will return in a strong position in 2021.

That’s not to say a merger is off the cards completely.

“I think there’s no doubt that somewhere down the track – and I’m not saying it’s three, five, 10 years or more – there’ll be a shift in how footy is played in the South East,” he said.

“This gives us a little snapshot of it. If something was to change, we can look back on this and say well this didn’t work, or that didn’t work and learn from it.

“So there’s definitely benefits and learnings from it. It just gives us options for the future should the need arise.”

ROUND 1 RESULTS

Mundulla 13.14 (92) d Kalangadoo 5.3 (33).

BEST: Mundulla – J. McGrice, S. Luckett, N. Mosey, N. Gregurke, D. Mosey, H. Dowling. Kalangadoo – S. McManus, T. Williams, B. Bryant, J. Mansell, M. Lowe, J. Mules.
GOALS: Mundulla – H. Dowling 3, J. Hinge, N. Mosey, N. Gregurke, S. Luckett, W. Lowe, J. McGrice, W. Packer, T. McIntyre, L. Hinge, D. Ridgway.


East Gambier 15.11 (101) d Kybybolite 8.2 (50).

BEST: East Gambier – M. Willson, K. Rodis, K. Jacobs, J. Eldridge, J. Forster, J. Harrap. Kybybolite – T. Hunter, W. Stewart, J. Bittner, J. Bettoncelli, B. Castine, M. Bennett.
GOALS: East Gambier – K. Thomson 4, M. Rumbelow 3, G. Cooper, T. Lockwood 2, L. Thomson, J. Harrap, M. McCallum, S. Willson. Kybybolite – J. Bittner, T. Kitschke 2, B. Carberry, H. McInnes, S. Craig, B. Castine.

 

North Gambier 13.8 (86) d South Gambier 8.5 (53).

BEST: North Gambier – D. Munn, S. Stafford, N. McInerney, M. Telford, B. Stafford, H. Telford. South Gambier – B. O’Neil, B. Foster, P. McGlynn, P. Mitchell, T. Saffin.
GOALS: North Gambier – J. McConnell 4, S. Stafford 3, N. Moretti, B. Stafford 2, M. Telford, D. Munn. South Gambier – B. Kain, B. Foster, P. Glynn, M. Smith, T. Reid, B. Saffin.

ROUND 2 FIXTURE

July 25 – Kybybolite v Mundulla; Kalangadoo v South Gambier; North Gambier v East Gambier.

ROUND 3

July 31 –East Gambier v Kalangadoo Aug 1 – Mundulla v North Gambier; South Gambier v Kybybolite.

ROUND 4

Aug 8 – Kybybolite v East Gambier; North Gambier v Kalangadoo; Mundulla v South Gambier.

ROUND 5

Aug 15 – Kalangadoo v Kybybolite; North Gambier v Mundulla; South Gambier v East Gambier.

ROUND 6

Aug 22 – East Gambier v Mundulla; Kalangadoo v South Gambier; Kybybolite v North Gambier.