D-day looms for Pies

THE Bendigo Football Netball League board is in the hot seat this week.

It's crunch time for Maryborough's survival campaign and the Magpies plight will be number one, two, three and four on the agenda for Friday's BFNL board meeting.

The big question is will the board play hard ball with Maryborough?

Those inside the club are adamant the Magpies will have enough players for seniors and reserves.

The confidence level is not so high for the under-18s.

The question the BFNL board needs to answer is - if Maryborough fails to field an under-18 side, should the senior and reserves football sides and the club's netball teams be able to compete in the BFNL?

This time 12 months ago Kyneton's senior football side was forced into recess because of a lack of numbers.

The Tigers still fielded under-18 and reserves football sides in 2013, but didn't have an A Grade netball team.

Castlemaine didn't field an under-18 football side in 2013, either.

Kyneton and Castlemaine's issues saw the BFNL board draw a line in the sand - all clubs must have three football teams and five netball teams.

That stance gets its first test with Maryborough.

From a professionalism standpoint, the league needs to be strong.

Particularly with a recruiting campaign for GVFL club Echuca about to be launched.

Considering the allowances made for Kyneton and Castlemaine last year, Maryborough could mount a strong case for unfair dismissal should the club be shown the door.

No one in the BFNL wants to see Maryborough leave the league.

Since returning to the BFNL two decades ago the Magpies have been a valuable member of the league.

They've won two senior football flags and their netball teams have been consistently competitive.

However, in the past eight years the club has struggled to maintain its competitive edge on the football field.

The club doesn't appear to have the financial clout of some of its rivals to attract quality players and the consistent lack of under-18s has hindered the club's ability to develop its own senior players.

Club legends Matt Aston, Geoff MacIlwain, Jamie Bond (pictured), Brendan Tranter and Glen Chadwick have done their best to steady the ship. 

If it wasn't for Bond and Chadwick's hard work in the past two months to attract senior players, the decision on Maryborough's future would already be made.

Round one of the BFNL season is only 10 weeks away. D-day looms.

Will the Magpies be there? I hope so. Will the BFNL let them play without under-18s? Gut feeling, I doubt it.

Tough questions need to be answered

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