Rochester back playing footy in Bendigo.
It's a sight that would warm the hearts of the older generation of Bendigo football followers.
It's not the powerful Rochester senior outfit, it's the Rochester Tigers' under-14s, who are playing in the Bendigo Junior Football League in 2022.
Rochester was a BFL power in the late 1950s and early 1960s, winning four premierships.
Rochester's relationship with the BFL soured and it left the league at the end of 1971, went into recess for a season and joined the Goulburn Valley Football League in 1973 where it has won four senior flags, the most recent in 2008.
There's been speculation over the past decade about the BFNL being interested in having Rochester rejoin the league, but nothing serious has come of any talks between the two parties.
Is the arrival of Rochester's under-14s to the BJFL a sign of things to come for the rest of the club?
"You never say never,'' Rochester FNC president Jeff Bright said with a chuckle.
"Not at this stage, things would have to improve in the Bendigo league."
Rochester's senior side sits second on the ladder in a competition that has long been rated superior to the BFNL, particularly in regards to depth.
So, why are the Tigers' under-14s playing in the BJFL?
"The junior competition here moved to under-15s and under-16s and that didn't suit us at all,'' Bright said.
"They've gone to yearly age groups instead of two-yearly age groups. I thought they were aiming for under-12s, under-14s, under-16s and under-18s, but over here they've gone to under-15s.
"With our population base we can't have under-14s, under-15s and under-16s, so we looked at Bendigo because Bendigo still has an under-14 competition.
"Our under-12s play in the old Goulburn Campaspe junior league, our under-14s play in the Bendigo junior league and our under-16s play in the Goulburn Valley.
"The under-14s in Bendigo have the grading system and they get to play an extra few games, which is good for the kids."
This year the Rochester under-16s basically follow the same fixture as the senior competition and play on the same day and at the same venue as the under-18s, reserves and seniors.
"It's working okay, but it does tend to lengthen the day a bit,'' Bright said.
"The positive is that those families that have boys and girls involved in netball and football are not split and they can be at the same venue on the one day."
Rochester under-14s had a 2-2 record through four rounds of grading games and will play in the reserves 1 division when the season proper starts this weekend.
Their round one game against Maiden Gully YCW is their first BJFL game on home soil at Windridge Oval.
"It seems to be working well so far,'' Bright said.
"Will all of our juniors end up in Bendigo long term? It's too early to tell."
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