POLL: Quality, numbers dwindle

“THERE just isn’t enough players.”

Central West AFL general manager Tony Lewis was frank in his assessment of the current state of the region’s Australian Rules competition.

With the Mudgee Black Swans taking their first real step to re-admission by hosting a one-off nines game, Lewis said the chance of expanding the first grade competition was still a way off.

“Ideally you’d love to have Mudgee, Parkes, Young and Lithgow all back in the competition,” he said.

“But realistically, being the fourth tier football code in the area makes it difficult.

“There is no chance of expansion next year.”

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Lewis said the lack of players isn’t the biggest issue facing the league, but rather it’s the lack of quality players.

“We can’t make anyone play up a grade,” he said.

“Young could, but they lost last year’s reserves grade grand final. Parkes lost all their players a year or two ago and Mudgee only played in the top grade for one season and they got beaten comfortably every game.

“There is potential to join first grade and reserves, then split at halfway, but with players going between two teams it is just too hard. 

“We’ve survived for a long time mostly only running four teams, we shouldn’t have a problem doing it again.”

Despite some senior grades diminishing in participation numbers Lewis said the junior ranks continue to improve.

“The growth our juniors are experiencing is encouraging,” he said.

“We’re also starting television advertising soon, so there is plenty of development happening.”

Orange Tigers president Luke Whitton said without more teams, staleness within the top grade is a possibility.

“It gets monotonous for our first graders playing three teams over and over again,” Whitton said.

“We’d support any expansion bids, if they were possible. More teams means better competition, and better quality footy in the area.”

matt.findlay@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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