Late on Thursday night Peter Cole sat in his home office by himself questioning the decision he and his fellow HDFNL board members had just made.
Even contemplating calling off a season is not something community sport administrators like Cole and HDFNL manager Jan Mannes think they'll have to endure when they put their hand up to do the job.
No footy and netball for a whole season was a big call.
How much would that affect the league's rural clubs and communities where sporting clubs are their heartbeat?
Should the league have waited another fortnight before making the decision?
"Last night was as tough a night as I've experienced,'' Cole said on Friday.
"After our meeting last night I sat there for 20 minutes and didn't do a thing...I was just dwelling on the decision we'd made and the potential ramifications.
"Then I started thinking positive. It was a tough decision, but it was the right decision. Someone had to make it and I'm very happy we did.
"The feedback and support we've received has been enormous. I'm very comfortable with the decision."
Read more: HDFNL cancels 2020 season
The naysayers will suggest the league still had time to get enough footy and netball together for some sort of season.
Cole understood that line of thought, but he said the time was right, for the benefit of all participants for a final decision to be made.
"This weekend would have been round eight for us which is one game off halfway,'' Cole said.
"If we were to start games on July 4, with only a couple of weeks of contact training under our belts, the risk of injury was high.
"The old blokes would be popping hamstrings left, right and centre. That's aside from all the other health and safety concerns.
"Our ethos all the way through this was "no crowds, no play" and that's what it came to."
While the health and safety of all participants was paramount to the decision, the financial well being of all nine clubs was high on Cole and Mannes' agenda.
"We've been in contact with our clubs all year about their finances and they're all good,'' Cole said.
"Every club is in a sound financial position.
"If we had played, even with the cutting back of the salary cap, there would have been about a $4000 per week bill to pay players.
"On average, whatever money you make on the gate you get about the same amount of money spent through the bar and canteen.
"An average gate for our league last year was about $4000. So that $4000, plus the $4000 through the bar and canteen makes it $8000 that the clubs don't get.
"With the $4000 player playments on top that's a $12,000 loss and that's just not sustainable.
"We explored other avenues like PayTV and we threw it all out there, but we found that they wouldn't work.
"For the future of our clubs this was the best way to go."
"The clubs will be in a better financial position by having the season cancelled than if they went ahead and tried to get through,'' Mannes added.
"For 2021 and beyond, the clubs will be much more sustainable."
For Cole and Mannes, one positive out of the COVID-19 induced cancellation could be a reduction in player payments going forward.
They were both confident that the absence of football in 2020 would make some players realise that there's more to the game than just the pay check at the end of the day.
"The days of players saying to a club "I'll play for x amount of bucks" and the club saying "yeah, no worries" are gone in my opinion,'' Cole said.
"I'd be happy for the salary cap to drop to $90,000 because it would secure our clubs financially.
"The days of players earning $2000 a game are done and that's a good thing."
Mannes said the COVID-19 restrictions had made players more aware of what it takes to keep a club afloat.
"Initially, the players just wanted to get out there and play,'' she said.
"Payers have now had to look at what it takes for the club and their volunteers to get the teams out on the ground and I think they'll appreciate that more."
Read more: Scrap senior footy and let the kids play
The timing of the decision to cancel the season means HDFNL players could be targeted by rival leagues before the June 30 AFL Victoria transfer deadline.
Cole and Mannes said the clubs had "slight" concerns about player movement, but in the end decided that "if the player wants to leave then let them leave".
"If we lose a few players because of this announcement then that's the way it goes,'' Mannes said.
"We have more than 1200 players across the league, how do you weigh that up against the possibility of losing a few players."
Mannes left the door ajar for some junior football and netball to be played later in the year.
"Maybe if things improve around COVID-19 later in the year we could look at doing something for our junior netballers and junior footballers,'' Mannes said.
"I feel for the teenage group, in particular. It's our hope that we could play some form of games for them."
With the 2020 season wiped out, planning for the 2021 season starts on Monday.
"People have said start next year early and do a super season,'' Cole said.
"The answer to that is no because we have to respect cricket. Half of our footballers probably play cricket through the summer.
"It's not all about football. We'll plan for next season and pump it up with plenty of bells and whistles."
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