Liam Durkin with David Braithwaite
JUST four weeks after local sport returned and players and fans were expecting no more interruptions for the remainder of the season, the COVID devil reared its ugly head.
When players from various codes packed their bags for training on Thursday morning, it is unlikely any of them thought they wouldn’t be playing on the weekend. However, a 4.55pm announcement from Premier Daniel Andrews that the state would be entering a five-day lockdown sealed their fate.
The announcement was met with increasing frustration and irritation, as the majority of players and coaches bemoaned with notions of “here we go again”.
It is the third time this year a snap lockdown has resulted in local sport being cancelled, following lockdowns in February and May extending into June.
Whispers of weekend sport not going ahead began to gather momentum Thursday lunchtime, although until the Premier made the announcement people were still holding out hope. However, with case numbers increasing and exposure sights growing, by the time the Premier made the announcement most local players were resigned to the fact they would have to give sport a miss yet again.
Given the lockdown came into effect at 11.59pm Thursday, it is believed most clubs still held training and made the most of the time they had left to be together, sharing a meal for a last supper of sorts.
Unlike the previous lockdown, the timing of this one so close to finals puts football league fixtures in a fair quandary.
Gippsland League clubs have still not played everyone once, with last weekend to be the round when this landmark was met.
As an added blow, the Mental Health Round that was scheduled to be held last Saturday had to be cancelled a second time. Moe and Traralgon had been chosen to be the feature game, and will now have to hope it is a case of third time lucky to finally get this game underway in the near
“Regarding what this means for community football matches fixtured during the lockdown period and as per the recent lockdown in Victoria, AFL Victoria has established a framework with recommendations for leagues to consider regarding various scenarios for competitions interrupted by COVID,” AFL Victoria said in a statement.
“Independent leagues are ultimately responsible for determining the approach they will take regarding interruptions to their competitions.”
Given there is no way to discount the likelihood of an extended lockdown, there may be huge repercussions for clubs on the brink of finals.
In the North Gippsland Football-Netball League, Rosedale could end up being the biggest loser if the remainder of the home-and-away season is scrapped, as the Blues are currently in sixth and arguably the in-form team of the competition.
The East Gippsland FNL season has played nine rounds, having already been reduced to 14 rounds to accommodate the previous lockdown.
Football Victoria expects soccer leagues to be back up and running this weekend.
“We encourage all clubs to stay connected with parents and players to prepare them for the resumption of football,” FV said in a statement.
“Football Victoria will continue to liaise with the Department of Sport and Recreation and will provide updates as they are available.”
Among the events postponed was the Basketball Victoria under 12 skills days planned to be held in Sale at the weekend.
Horse and greyhound racing was allowed to continue, with only people essential to the staging of events permitted to attend.