By sports editor Russell Bennett
An expanded West Gippsland Football Netball Competition will hold its grand final day on the first weekend in September in 2019, with the newly formed AFL Outer East Premier division holding its biggest day on the AFL Grand Final public holiday Friday.
With the Ellinbank and District grand final day set for 14 September, it means there will be no major clashes between the showpiece days of the three leagues.
The AFL Yarra Ranges Division 1 grand final day was a great success as a standalone fixture this year on Friday, 28 September at Yarra Glen and fans of the new Outer East competition can once again look forward to some top-quality football and netball on the corresponding day in 2019.
While in 2018 the WGFNC grand final day was originally earmarked for Sunday, 16 September it was later returned to Saturday the 15th.
Next year, it will be a week earlier on the first Saturday of the month.
In 2019 the WGFNC is expanding to a 12-club competition as it welcomes both Tooradin-Dalmore (from the now-defunct SEFNL), and former Ellinbank and District club Warragul Industrials.
The Seagulls will kick off the season under lights with a standalone trip to Cora Lynn on Saturday, 23 March.
It will mark the first time the two clubs have faced off for premiership points since 2004, when they were rivals in the old West Gippsland Football League.
The Dusties will begin their campaign the following week at Garfield on 30 March.
The two new WGFNC clubs will battle it out in an Anzac Day blockbuster on Thursday, 25 April.
Phillip Island and Dalyston will unfurl their respective senior and A Grade WGFNC football and netball flags in Round 3 against Garfield and Nar Nar Goon.
Interestingly, the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) Turf 1, West Gippsland Cricket Association (WGCA), and Warragul and District Cricket Association (WDCA) grand finals will be held on the same weekend as the first game of the WGFNC season – 23 and 24 March.
The AFL Outer East Premier season will begin with the Round 9 clash between Berwick and Narre Warren – the rematch of the last ever SEFNL decider – brought forward to actually open 2019 on 6 April.
In Round 1 proper, it will be a standalone clash of the premiers between Wandin (AFL Yarra Ranges) and Berwick (SEFNL) on Sunday, 14 April at Wandin.
There will be two Anzac Day clashes in Premier, with Berwick hosting Healesville and Narre Warren hosting Beaconsfield.
Pakenham will host Officer/ROC in a Division 1 Anzac Day clash, with that season opening with Pakenham hosting Emerald, and Belgrave hosting Monbulk on 13 April.
There will also be Division 1 Good Friday footy and netball with Doveton hosting Officer/ROC on 19 April.
LOCAL LEAGUE GRAND FINAL DAYS
– West Gippsland Football Netball Competition grand final – Saturday, 7 September
– Ellinbank and District Football League grand final – Saturday, 14 September
– AFL Outer East Division 2 grand final – Saturday, 14 September
– Gippsland League grand final – Saturday, 21 September
– AFL Outer East Division 1 grand final – Sunday, 22 September
– AFL Outer East Premier grand final – Friday, 27 September