MARYBOROUGH has made it clear it sees its future as a major league club in the Bendigo Football-Netball League.
The Magpies did so by knocking back an opportunity to join a revamped Central Highlands league as part of the AFL Goldfields Senior Competition Review in which draft recommendations have now been released that propose significant change.
Dropping back from the Bendigo league to the Central Highlands competition would have been the easy way out for the Magpies, whose struggles on field in recent years have been well documented.
By pinning their future to the Bendigo league, the Magpies desperately need to become a destination club for players in the region wanting to play at the major league level for that’s their point of difference.
It has been acknowledged that one of the greatest issues the Magpies face in what has become a constant battle for players is the logjam of clubs within close proximity competing in the surrounding Maryborough-Castlemaine District league.
Within 40kms of Maryborough are 10 clubs – Rovers and Royal Park are also both based within the town, with Carisbrook (7kms), Talbot (14), Dunolly (23), Avoca (27), Natte Bealiba (29), Newstead (31), Maldon (35) and Lexton (38) also nearby.
The review goes some way to potentially addressing that in the future by stating “there is a general acceptance by all MCDFNL clubs that there are too many clubs within the vicinity of Maryborough. The review recommends that AFL Goldfields and the MCDFNL work closely with all clubs into the future to present and facilitate merger packages when and if required.”
In the meantime the Magpies, by saying thanks but no thanks to the Central Highlands invite option, have drawn a line in the sand – now the Sherrin’s in their forward 50 to prove they belong in a major league.
Luke West – sports reporter