Grand final back to Saturday

RELATED: 2014 Gippsland League fixture

THE Gippsland League will to return to having grand final day on its traditional Saturday afternoon this year.

The football and netball league has finalised its 2014 fixture, confirming the grand finals will be played on Saturday, September 20.

Preliminary final day will be played on Sunday, September 14, again avoiding a clash with the North Gippsland, Alberton and Ellinbank grand finals the previous day.

In a move to increase attendances and avoid a clash with other leagues, the Gippsland League last year moved its preliminary finals to a Sunday. To give the preliminary final winners a seven-day break to prepare for the grand final, the premiership deciders were also moved from the traditional Saturday.

Gate figures for last year’s grand final day at Moe was slightly higher than the previous season, mainly attributed to payments for “premium” parking spaces, although early rain did deter people from attending.

Outgoing Gippsland League general manager Chris Soumilas said the league was keen to build on last year’s successful Sunday preliminary final day, but decided to return the grand finals on a Saturday after receiving feedback.

“Most of the clubs didn’t like the Sunday grand final,” he said.

With only four of the 18 rounds having all five matches played on the traditional Saturday afternoon, Soumilas said the 2014 fixture would better showcase the region’s major league.

The East Gippsland league has scheduled its grand final for the same weekend as the Gippsland League, it is now likely that will be played on the Sunday.

Among other changes in the Gippsland League fixture, Maffra will play Moe, coached by former Eagle Adrian Burgiel, under lights in round one on April 5. It will be the first time Maffra’s new lights will be used for a competitive match.

The Eagles will still play two night games at home, with the round six match against Traralgon has been moved to the afternoon, avoiding a clash with Sale’s night game against Bairnsdale. The Eagles will also host Leongatha under lights in round 12.

Sale will now play its first three matches at home with the Magpies and Traralgon swapping hosting duties for their rounds one and 10 games because resurfacing works at the Traralgon Recreation Reserve. This means the Magpies will play three consecutive away matches to begin the second half of the season.

For the first time since 2011, there will be a Gippsland League match on the Easter weekend, with Morwell hosting Moe on Good Friday, April 18.

Moe’s match at Wonthaggi during the split round 15 has been moved to Sunday, July 26 after being named as the AFL Victoria Country Game of the Month.