DEVON-Welshpool-Won Wron-Woodside Football-Netball Club looks set to remain in recess for season 2019, following a surprisingly positive annual meeting on Sunday.
Amid the turmoil and fall-out from the end of the 2017 Alberton league season, where the Allies were decimated with a mass exodus of players, re-elected club president Sarah Kidd conceded that it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the club would be fielding a team for next season.
“On the advice of AFL Gippsland, and taking into consideration how much uncertainty there is surrounding the Alberton league, we feel our best option is to stay in recess until there is more clarity,” she said.
The meeting was well-attended by about 30 members, and offered an opportunity for those present to put forward suggestions to the club about its future.
Despite not operating in a playing capacity in 2018, the Allies still presented a healthy balance sheet, with functions and midweek meals held throughout the year ensuring they maintained some form of local presence.
“We always knew 2018 was going to be a challenge and whilst doing into recess wasn’t ideal, it was the best decision for the club,” Kidd said.
“We also knew that there was going to be a review coming out so we couldn’t really attract any players or appoint coaches whilst there was so much uncertainty.”
The Allies got within a few points of playing in the 2017 grand final, yet an acrimonious saga regarding player payments derailed the on field stability of the playing group, eventually culminating in many players walking out on the club.
“The problem is a lot of country footballers think they are professionals, and once they begin talking behind each others backs things start to boil over,” incoming vice-president Doug Kaye said.
Along with this problem, long time club member and former vice-president David McAninly said the industry surrounding Alberton had changed dramatically, with the area becoming so isolated as more and more families moved elsewhere for work.
“You can usually tell by the enrolment numbers in schools, if you run out of work you are eventually going to run out of people,” he said.
The Allies have had a relatively successful recent history in terms of senior premierships, and can lay claim to being the home club of West Coast AFL premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy.
The club still hopes to offer some sort of on field program in 2019, whether it be Auskick or a social competition for those past their prime.
Kaye believed the conundrum the Alberton league found itself in could have easily been avoided.
“If Korumburra-Bena or Inverlock-Kongwak didn’t move to West Gippsland that would have left eight teams in Alberton which is workable, as opposed to six which is not,” he said.
It was a point supported by Kidd, who said the club had lost a number of young players because they “didn’t want to play the same team every three weeks”.
Kidd said the club needed to find out what the Alberton league intended to do as soon as possible.
“If the Alberton league was to fold it wouldn’t affect us,” Kidd reiterated.
Although the Allies are still technically in recess until March of next year, they are able to extend their lease and will be active in their rebuild to getting players back onto the Alberton West ground.
Stony Creek has confirmed its intention to seek a clearance to Mid Gippsland, with rumours Meeniyan-Dumbulk United will follow suit, and Fish Creek will apply to join West Gippsland.