Albury and Wangaratta set to battle for the O and M grand final

Wangaratta's Tom Whittlesea celebrates a goal in last year's grand final win over Albury at the Lavington Sportsground. The two clubs will now battle to host this year's decider with Lavington ruled out due to ongoing developments.
Wangaratta's Tom Whittlesea celebrates a goal in last year's grand final win over Albury at the Lavington Sportsground. The two clubs will now battle to host this year's decider with Lavington ruled out due to ongoing developments.

Albury and Wangaratta will battle to host this year’s grand final.

Lavington Sportsground has officially been ruled out, due to the ongoing development of the site.

It means the venue, which has hosted the deciders since 1995, will only become available again in 2020.

“They’ve (Albury and Wangaratta) both expressed an interest in the event, which is great,” O and M general manager Sean Barrett said.

Both clubs have previously applied numerous times to host the decider.

“We always put in hoping to get it, (so) it’s no different,” Albury president Stuart Hodgson said.

The Pies opted out of applying last year.

“We’ve decided to proceed with the grand final application, but obviously on the provision we need to see the documents (the facts and figures) and we’ll need to have a meeting with council, to work through the tender process,” new president Tony Goodison said.

The Pies will need, though, to improve visibility for spectators at its netball complex. 

Lavington president Peter Barwick said the club’s best result was a $23,000 profit, during one of the Brendan Fevola-inspired monster gates, while the Panthers made a single-figure loss during the rain-ruined 2016 match.

Clubs also incur a host fee, which is valued on gate takings.

”Look, they’re worth hosting, but you’re looking at 150 volunteers.” he said.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve paid some community groups to help because it’s too big a toll on volunteers.

“If you were running a business, the amount of work you put into it, for what you get out of it, it’s not worth it, but if you’re a football club, anything is a bonus.”

You’re looking at 150 volunteers ... we’ve paid some community groups to help.

Peter Barwick

Tenders will soon be called, with a decision expected by early June.

The Tigers and Pies met in last year’s decider, with the two again strong contenders.

Meanwhile, the venue for May’s rep clash against Western Region could be announced this week.