Wodonga’s John Flower Oval has been given the hosting rights for the Ovens and Murray’s interleague clash with Goulburn Valley.
The match on May 13 was set to be held at Wangaratta as a suitable halfway point for the two teams to meet, however, a clash with a VFL fixture at the proposed venue on the same weekend was a key factor for the change.
Ovens and Murray general manager Sean Barrett ensured the decision to host the game in Wodonga wasn’t a strategic plan to force Goulburn Valley to travel further.
“We certainly didn’t put the game here thinking it would help our equation,” Barrett said.
“I don’t think it makes a huge difference. We travelled down to Warrnambool last year and that’s a five or six hour trip, but travelling from Goulburn Valley is a lot easier to prepare for from a player’s perspective and I don’t think it will have a huge bearing on the game.
“It’s always a tough decision to choose one venue when there are so many good venues across the league and so many clubs that are capable of hosting interleague.
“Given Goulburn Valley is one of our closer rivals, it didn’t really matter where we held the game in terms of travelling times as they are all fairly accessible for both leagues.”
Allowances for the Ovens and Murray fixture for marquee games and the ability to draw a strong crowd also came into consideration.
Barrett added the league is comfortable the surface at John Flower Oval will be up to scratch after holding together well during a very wet winter last season.
The visitors weren’t caught off guard by the decision, with Goulburn Valley Football League chairman David Roth saying everyone was prepared for the potential conflict in schedules.
“We were aware there was a fair chance it wouldn’t be played at Wangaratta,” Roth said.
“The decision has been made and we’ll work with it.
“Our view is if we’re good enough on the day, we’ll win the game, no matter where it is.
“We almost knocked off the Essendon league at Windy Hill last year, so we’ll travel and we’ll give it our best shot.
“It’s a great rivalry and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Goulburn Valley appointed Luke Morgan as its interleague coach in recent months and Roth believes he should be at the helm of a very strong team.
“Luke is looking to announce the squad fairly early in the season so we’ve got plenty of time to prepare,” Roth said.