Echuca players are facing a chorus of harassment on the Goulburn Valley League’s Facebook site and other country football forums after the season was canceled Thursday afternoon.
Multiple messages targeting the club to accept the premiership flooded the league site hours after the club manager was notified of the decision.
Echuca Football Club was named the league’s premier when a GVL board meeting decided to abandon the season and give a premiere to the home team that finished their away season on top.
The ongoing lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented any football/netball final series from starting, and while there is much uncertainty about when such lockdowns will be lifted, the GVL board has voted to close the season early.
Murray Bombers finished second on the ladder after round of 16 of the season, but in the final home round, he beat Seymour in an 81-point final-round win over Shepparton.
With many of his Melbourne-based stars unavailable due to quarantine, Seymour took a three-quarter lead against Mooroopna – but was held goalless in the last quarter and lost four points.
They passed not only Echuca, but also Euroa on the ladder.
Seymour finished third, separating the top three teams by just percentage, all of which had nine wins over the course of the year.
Simon Eishold, the club’s director of football operations, said the comments were bizarre considering the club didn’t play any role in the decision to know about the 2021 premiere of the Goulburn Valley League.
We did not request the Prime Ministry, it was given to us in a meeting that we did not attend.”
Eishold, a four-time best and fairest winner with Echuca Football Club, took the news after the beloved Melbourne Football Club came out one weekend after his phenomenal post-siren win over Geelong that saw the Demons proclaim the AFL minor premiership.
But just days later he was left flat and angry with the response of the Goulburn Valley football community to a decision beyond Murray Bombers’ control.
Eishold follows the fate of his former club Melbourne, digging deep into the 1987 finals as a player at the club and again the following year when the Demons reached the grand final – missing most of that season due to injury.
Fortunately, there was a measured approach to some of the comments from those who better understand the plight of Echuca Football Club, and even the odd congratulatory message recognizing the club’s performance in the stop-start season.
Mr Eishold said he was aware of the disappointment of football clubs, including his own, due to the COVID-19 interruption season and the eventual announcement of Echuca as the premiere.
“We didn’t ask for this and we certainly didn’t expect it,” he said.
“The league suddenly took this decision.
“I was aware of a meeting earlier in the week (last week) and realized that he had decided to wait 10 days before making any statements.
“Three days later and late Thursday afternoon I heard that the season was canceled and we were called the premiere.”
Echuca Football Club was awarded first place in four different degrees as a result of completing the home and away season, which was reduced by the league manager, at the top of the relevant competition ranks.
Mr Eishold said the club would very much prefer to have the award, which carries the much-appreciated George Hunter trophy, announced as the champion club.
“To me, that is the true measure of the entire success of a club,” he said.
“Under these circumstances, we would have been much more comfortable if we had been called the champion club instead of being awarded first place.”
He described the giving of the premiere as “hollow” and felt that the awarding of the 2021 flag was “thrown in” by the club, making him an easy target for opposition clubs and supporters.
Mr. Eishold said: “Our club has worked extremely hard to ensure that our player staff is well looked after throughout the year.” Said.
“We established a health and well-being subcommittee and held regular Zoom meetings with our group of players throughout the year to make sure they were well.”
Mr Eishold said a lot of time and effort has been put into the season, which has further disappointed the disrespectful comments from the league’s Facebook followers.
It took a lot of effort to get to this point of the season.”
“None of us wanted it to end this way, and it’s not fair to see our players come under this kind of criticism.
“I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this resolution.”