Crowd challenge looms for BLGFA

Tanunda celebrating last year’s grand final win. Photo: Guy Draper Photography

Sponsored by THINK! Road Safety

We continue our series covering the season starts for Community Leagues across the State, this week looking at how Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association is dealing with crowds during Covid, thanks to Think! Road Safety.

By Nick Dillon

Typically, community football leagues face the challenge of trying to get as many people as possible in the gate on grand final day to help fill the coffers and keep footy sustainable in their region.

However, the Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association faces a unique situation this year where it may have to turn people away.

As one of the biggest community football leagues in South Australia, the BLGFA is no stranger to big crowds, reaching up to 6000 on occasion as locals pile in to some of the most picturesque ovals getting around to watch some quality football.

The state’s COVID restrictions will mean the league has a delicate balancing act on grand final day, but there is plenty of work being done behind the scenes to ensure the day is successful.

“We’re working on a COVID management plan for the finals which will be a challenge,” Mr Brien said.

“We get 6000 to a grand final normally, but we won’t be allowed to have that.”

COVID management plans are required for activities that carry a higher public health risk – in this case having a crowd of over 1000.

In a season like no other, the BLGFA has stood strong in the face of adversity. The Freeling Football Club elected not to field senior teams this season, which threw a spanner in the works, while zero salary cap means the league’s star recruits – many of them former AFL or SANFL players – are all playing for free.

“The clubs just have to get on with it and they have,” Mr Brien said. “There’s zero salary cap so they have to go along with it.

“It’s a credit to them (the travelling players) that they’re still playing here.”

No Freeling in the senior competition means at least two clubs have a bye each week, but the Redlegs have committed to playing junior games this year.

Mr Brien is confident Freeling will be back in action in the seniors in 2021.

Gawler Central has hit the ground running in the A grade competition, recording first up wins against Nuriootpa and Willaston in the opening two rounds.

The Tigers won just three games in 2019, but led by returning Schutler Medallist Charlie Molyneux and goal kicking machine Bradley Mercer, Gawler Central looks a much tougher assignment in 2020.

Reigning premier Tanunda’s flag defence got off to a rocky start with a 31-point loss to Barossa District in round two, while fellow grand finalist Angaston started with a 17-point win over Nuriootpa.

 

ROUND 1

Gawler Central 13.11 (89) d Nuriootpa 8.6 (54).

BEST: Gawler Central – C. Molyneux, A. Wright, S. Baker, D. Stanley, K. Wurst, C. Williams. Nuriootpa – B. Hoepner, A. Raikiwasa, M. Norton, N. Heath, L. Jaunay, T. Heffernan.

GOALS: Gawler Central – B. Mercer 3, O. John, S. Baker, K. Wurst 2, C. Molyneux, S. Brading, S. Moss. Nuriootpa – N. Heath 2, T. Dimasi, R. Foulis, A. Raikiwasa, A. Raikiwasa, S. Dearlove, S. Bentley.

 

South Gawler 11.16 (82) d Kapunda 8.9 (57).

BEST: South Gawler – J. Dare, D. Costanzo, N. Bartsch, J. Wittwer, J. Press, J. Johnson. Kapunda – F. Smith, J. Zanandrea, B. Borg, J. Slater, K. Brown, J. Dodd.

GOALS: South Gawler – N. Bartsch 3, J. Tippins, J. Press 2, J. Smit, D. Costanzo, D. Cutting, B. Fielke. Kapunda – J. Zanandrea, F. Smith 3, J. Dodd, B. Valentine.

 

Willaston 17.5 (107) d Barossa District 9.11 (65).

BEST: Willaston – H. Elbrow, A. Connelly, B. Coombs, M. Clinch, A. Fry, M. Brooks. Barossa District – L. Ryswyk, J. Goodfellow, T. Geehman, J. Carpenter, D. Kickel, E. Gant.

GOALS: Willaston – B. Coombs 8, M. Howson 3, H. Elbrow, S. Walton 2, T. Irlam, B. Cormack. Barossa District – A. Spencer, D. Shillabeer 2, O. Watson, J. Goodfellow, E. Gant, L. Ryswyk, M. Bratton.

 

ROUND 2

Angaston 13.10 (88) d Nuriootpa 9.7 (61).

BEST: Angaston – S. Summerton, B. Antoine, J. Shannon, M. Borholm, A. Reincke, J. Hood. Nuriootpa – J. Bentley, L. Westlake, R. Foulis, J. Baldwin, L. Jaunay, B. Shinnick.

GOALS: Angaston – A. Pech, R. Eberthard 3, S. Summerton 2, J. Antoine, T. Jackaman, H. Clarkson, A. Reincke, S. Rusca.

 

Barossa District 15.11 (101) d Tanunda 10.10 (70).

BEST: Barossa District – L. Ryswyk, R. Watson, J. Goodfellow, D. Shillabeer, E. Gant, D. Kickel. Tanunda – B. Dowse, B. Smith, D. Hamon, J. Griffiths, L. Westhoff, B. Schiller.

GOALS: Barossa District – D. Shillabeer 4, E. Gant, L. Ryswyk 3, R. Watson, J. Carpenter, J. Combe, A. Spencer. Tanunda – J. Trembath 4, B. Schiller 3, B. Dowse, R. Detot, S. Dunn.

 

Gawler Central 20.11 (131) d Willaston 8.6 (54).

BEST: Gawler Central – C. Molyneux, S. Baker, T. Phelps, B. Mercer, J. Billing, D. Stanley. Willaston – M. Brooks, M. Clinch, T. Irlam, Z. Hentschke, R. Boswell, A. Mills.

GOALS: Gawler Central – B. Mercer 7, S. Moss 5, C. Molyneux 3, C. Williams 2, S. Baker, O. John, R. Long. Willaston – Z. Hentschke 3, M. Howson 2, H. Elbrow, B. Cormack, A. Mills.

 

Rd 3

Aug 1 – Nuriootpa v Kapunda; Tanunda v Gawler Central; Willaston v Angaston.

Rd 4

Aug 8 – Gawler Central v Barossa District; Kapunda v Willaston; South Gawler v Nuriootpa.

Rd 5

Aug 15 – Barossa District v Angaston; Tanunda v Kapunda; Willaston v South Gawler.

Rd 6

Aug 22 – Angaston v Gawler Central; Kapunda v Barossa District; South Gawler v Tanunda.

Rd 7

Aug 29 – Barossa District v South Gawler; Gawler Central v Kapunda; Willaston v Nuriootpa.

Rd 8

Sep 5 – Kapunda v Angaston; Nuriootpa v Tanunda; South Gawler v Gawler Central.

Rd 9

Sep 12 – Angaston v South Gawler; Barossa District v Nuriootpa; Tanunda v Willaston