Game over for Alberton

Liam Durkin

THE Alberton Football-Netball League looks set to dissolve, with clubs seeking to join other leagues.

Toora is the latest Alberton club applying to join the Mid Gippsland Football League, having submitted an application on Wednesday’s deadline day.

The Magpies join Stony Creek and Meeniyan-Dumbalk United as clubs looking to make Mid Gippsland their home in 2019, leaving the Alberton league almost certain to go under.

The Gippsland Times reported on Tuesday that Devon-Welshpool Won-Wron-Woodside would be entering another year in recess, while remaining Alberton league clubs Foster, Fish Creek and Tarwin are rumoured to be heading to the West Gippsland competition.

“As with most Alberton clubs we just couldn’t see a future in a six-team competition,” Jenkins said.

“Who knows what will become of Alberton but with all the clubs looking to get out it obviously doesn’t look good.”

Jenkins said Mid Gippsland appeared to be the best fit for Toora, but its destiny remained in the hands of AFL Victoria.

“We put in our application first thing Wednesday morning so now we will just have to wait and see,” he said.

Stony Creek president Mark Le Page was understandably playing his cards close to his chest, but said the club was “100 per cent committed to Mid Gippsland”.

“We have to respect the sensitivity surrounding the discussions, but from our point of view six clubs in Alberton is just not viable,” Le Page said.

“Everyone at the club is backing it, the players and the board are right behind it so we just need to remain positive.”

The writing appears to have been on the wall at Stony Creek for more than 12 months, with the club applying to join Mid Gippsland last year, only to be knocked back.

Le Page insisted the club was not out to blame anyone for Alberton’s demise, citing natural demographics meant that the population of the area was simply dwindling.

“I think it’s unfair to criticise AFL Gippsland too much, it is just the reality of country football that things can’t always stay the same,” he said.

Having played in both Mid Gippsland and Alberton, former Trafalgar and Tarwin player Blake Slater saw no issue in a competitive context with the Alberton clubs joining, but understood the problems it could create at a junior level.

“It would be tough on parents having to leave early to get to Stony Creek, especially on those south Gippsland roads, but in terms of playing standard the Alberton teams would fit into Mid Gippsland quite well,” he said.

Former Trafalgar and Allies player Cohan Lee believed the survival of clubs in Gippsland was more important than Mid Gippsland players and parents getting up in arms about extended travel times.

“What if the shoe was on the other foot? Surely Mid Gippsland players could do a few extra miles to save clubs not too dissimilar to them,” Lee said.