Inter-league saved: Ballarat v Bendigo next May by Richard Jones

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Ballarat_football_league_logoIt’s generally acknowledged that the Christmas festive season brings with it dollops of good cheer and for Bendigo’s representative players that’s certainly the case for late 2019.

Bendigo will play Ballarat in footy and netball in early May 2020, probably at North Ballarat’s AFL-standard stadium.

After other central Victorian leagues – notably the Loddon Valley and Heathcote District – had shelved any plans to play other nearby bodies the BFNL continued its search. BFNL general manager Cameron Tomlins, with support from his board, battled on and just a few days out from Christmas announced the 2 May  date.

It seems likely that senior and under-18 football along with Open age and under-17 netball will be contested. The yet-to-be announced coaches will need to be on the ball bright and early next season.

Just three home-and-away rounds will have been played before the team buses hit the road, bound for Ballarat. Tomlins said the league was “a fair way down the track” concerning discussions with potential coaches and expects to be able to make the announcements early in the new year. Darryl Wilson was this year’s successful Blue and Gold footy coach.

Bendigo demolished the metropolitan Outer East league on the QEO by a massive 99 points, but for 2020 Wilson (the BFNL’s 2010-2019 Team of the Decade senior mentor) has returned to club coaching. He’ll be back at Strathfieldsaye assisted by senior playing coach Shannon Geary.

The Blue and Golds haven’t played Ballarat since 2017 when Ballarat won by 11 points at the QEO.

Back in the early 2000s at Bacchus Marsh a young Bendigo side downed the Navy Blues with then BFNL CEO Steven Oliver pulling the boots back on and lining up at full-forward.

There’s long been a stirring rivalry between the two Goldfields leagues.

Meanwhile the 2020 Bendigo FNL season kicks off on Good Friday with all five clashes scheduled for the first day of the Easter long weekend. Only two of the scheduled fixtures will be played in the afternoon, one is a twilight match while the remaining two will be played on Good Friday evening.

There’s a general mid-season bye on 4 July with the finals series listed for late August and into September.

Round one 2020: Kyneton v Gisborne, South Bendigo v Eaglehawk, Strathfieldsaye v Sandhurst (twilight) and Castlemaine v Maryborough and Kangaroo Flat v Golden Square (both night, under lights).

Strath Storm will unfurl its 2019 premiership pennant before the twilight Tannery Lane round one fixture against old rival Sandhurst.

Finals series – qualifying and elimination finals: 29&30 August 29. First and second semi-finals: 5 &6 September. Preliminary final: 12 September. Grand final: Saturday, 19 September.

  

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