YARRAWONGA co-coach Chris Kennedy says the decision to abandon Saturday’s blockbuster against Albury was a no-brainer.
In a first for the Ovens and Murray, the match was called off seven minutes into the second quarter when Tigers’ youngster James McQuillan suffered a serious spinal injury following an incidental collision with Marcus Cummins.
The match was declared a draw under section 10.6.2 (b) of the AFL’s rules of the game, as it happened in the first half.
Kennedy said the Pigeons didn’t even think about playing on.
“It wasn’t even a discussion,” Kennedy said.
“Our whole town is behind James and we’re just thinking positive for him.
“As a parent, my thoughts are with his mum and dad, family and friends.”
The Pigeons and Tigers have formed one of the greatest rivalries in country football history over the past decade and while the match was fiery in the lead-up to the incident, both clubs came together in the wake of it.
“There’s a real rivalry between the two clubs but when something like this happens it really brings you together,” Kennedy said.
“Usually you go up for 20 minutes after a game for a beer but players from both teams were there well over an hour together.
“Everyone is just hoping for the best.
“There’s a lot of respect between the clubs and we just hope he and his family are OK.”
Yarrawonga’s non-playing coach said Cummins was understandably flat.
“Everyone knows it was unintentional,” Kennedy said.
“But unless you’re in his shoes, I guess you don’t really know what to think. We’ll support him as well.”
While the injury was the clear talking point, several other incidents out of the contest will impact both sides moving forward.
Gun Albury midfielder Joel Mackie was reported for striking Yarrawonga ace Kayne Pettifer as the teams were breaking for the start of the second quarter.
It is still unclear whether the 2012 Morris medallist can accept a set penalty, or if he is headed to the tribunal.
The bad news doesn’t stop there for the Tigers, with key defender Will Smith staring at weeks on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring strain less than 20 minutes into the game.
New Albury ace Brayden O’Hara kicked two goals in the minutes leading up to McQuillan’s injury and looked a class above almost everyone on the ground as he ran riot through the midfield.
Yarrawonga recruit Michael Handby also impressed.