Star power pays off in crowds and cash

MORE than $1.5 million has poured into the Ovens and Murray Football League this season as modern-day arch rivals Albury-Yarrawonga prepare for another grand final showdown tomorrow.

Almost 50,000 more people have attended O and M matches during the home and away season compared to last year and the fans have kept coming during the finals series.

An estimated $1.5 million in gate-takings and match-day catering proceeds has been achieved by the 10 clubs in the 18 home and away rounds.

Yarrawonga has led the charge following its make or break signing of former AFL bad boy Brendan Fevola.

More than 40,000 fans have watched Yarrawonga home games this season including the 8500-strong Easter Sunday debut by Fevola at Mulwala in round 1.

Fevola’s first appearance for the Pigeons alone tipped more than $100,000 into the club’s coffers and other clubs including Myrtleford and Wodonga have cashed in on the star goalkicker’s crowd pulling power.

Yarrawonga has featured in seven of the top-10 biggest crowds of the home and away season including Barry Hall’s debut game for Wangaratta Rovers in early July.

The Pigeons will be looking to end its run of three grand final defeats against Albury and the “Fev Factor” will cap off a record-breaking finals series for the O and M.

Four of the five finals played to date have produced record gate-takings of a combined $95,083.

Host clubs have gained a further financial boost of an estimated $5000 from catering at each record crowd during September.

Finals gate-takings are retained by the O and M.

More than 4000 people more have attended the lead-up finals compared to last year with three matches involving the competition’s other marquee player, Barry Hall.

They include last Sunday’s preliminary final at Bunton Park but the Hawks’ loss could have dashed any chance the O and M had of ever attracting six-figure gate-takings for a grand final.

The grand final gate-takings record of $71,500 was achieved when the modern day heavyweights, Albury and Yarrawonga, met for the first time in 2009.

Grand final proceeds have dipped the last two seasons but Fevola’s presence in the Yarrawonga goal-square will deliver one last financial windfall for the O and M at Lavington Oval tomorrow.

The biggest match-day revenue raisers are the gate, canteen sales and bar with clubs aiming to reap $10,000 to $12,000 from most home games.

The Border Mail calculated this season’s financial windfall with the aid of former club committee members, who wished to remain anonymous.

Home and away season crowd figures are estimates by The Border Mail reporters, but the O and M does an official count during the finals.

Brendan Fevola and Barry Hall.

Brendan Fevola and Barry Hall.