THE Bendigo Gold have been given the chance to create a Friday night niche in the VFL next season.
The Gold have been granted four Friday night games at the Queen Elizabeth Oval in the 2013 VFL fixture released yesterday.
Three of the Gold’s first four matches of the season will be at the QEO on a Friday night against Essendon (April 5), North Ballarat (April 19) and Collingwood (April 26).
They will also play Geelong on a Friday night in round 19 on August 23.
“We asked for four Friday night games and we got them, so we’re very happy with that,” Gold general manager Graham Pratt said yesterday.
“From our perspective, it’s a great opportunity to present the Bendigo Gold to the community.
“We want to make Friday nights a niche for us here in Bendigo, so next year will be a great stepping stone to that.
“With the Friday night games, it minimises clashes with the Bendigo Football League, which is a good thing moving forward.”
The Gold travel just once in the first six rounds, with their only away game during that time being against the Northern Blues at Visy Park in round two.
However, that’s balanced out later in the season when the Gold don’t play in Bendigo throughout July when they have four-consecutive away games.
All nine of Bendigo’s home games will either be on a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon, with no Sunday game at the QEO fixtured.
Bendigo has two meetings with Essendon, the club it had been aligned with since 2003 before the partnership ended this year.
The Gold will open their season against the Bombers in Bendigo, before a return match on the Bombers’ turf at Windy Hill in round 15.
Bendigo plays each of the teams that finished in the top five this year just once, with the only 2012 finalists the Gold meet twice being Sandringham (6th) and Box Hill (7th).
“Overall, we think it’s a very good draw for next year,” Pratt said.