IT was a decision he described as devastating and disappointing, but AFL Central West's Casey White also felt announcing the 2021 season was abandoned, and no teams would be crowned premiers, was a move which had to be made.
Following on from Thursday's announcement that the COVID-19 lockdown of regional New South Wales would be extended until at least midnight on September 10, late Friday afternoon White met with club delegates to discuss the fate of season 2021.
The outcome was that the season would be abandoned.
"I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out where we were going over the last couple of days with making a decision, but it doesn't make it any easier, I'll guarantee you that," AFLCW competition and development co-ordinator White said.
"For us it was our 40th year of footy, the most competitive year of footy I think across a lot of grades we've had in recent memory.
"Unfortunately it's not how the world works, but we deserved to have finals and it's just the way the world is at the moment, a two-week extension to lockdown put a lot of challenges in place."
It's devastating that we can't celebrate our 40 years with premierships.AFL Central West's Casey White
The competition across all grades, senior and junior, had reached finals before the lockdown halted play.
White said continuing to push back the season-end date in hopes lockdown would end was no longer a feasible option.
"At least one case had popped up in every one of our Central West AFL communities, Cowra excluded, that really put the pressure on our ability to complete the season," he said.
"But it's done now and it's not only probably a weight off my shoulders, but also the clubs'. They don't have to keep their players engaged for potentially two-three more weeks and then be disappointed if we get another extension.
"Our junior sides would have had one day out of lockdown not having played for six or eight weeks and our senior sides would not have played in six weeks and had one week's preparation. That is what we were looking at with the time limits placed on us."
As well as opting to abandon the season, the decision was made not to award any premierships.
Minor premiers will still be acknowledged and individual awards such as the league best and fairest and leading goal kicker across the grades will be presented at a later date.
Again White acknowledged the difficulty of making such a call.
"It's devastating that we can't celebrate our 40 years with premierships, but that doesn't take away from the hard work our clubs, our players, our coaches and volunteers have put in this year to make the season what it is and celebrate the season the way we have," he said.
"It's very disappointing to not be able to finish the season off and I know some people will be disappointed with the decision not to award premiers.
"But it is a consistent approach, so far across the state in other AFL competitions which haven't concluded they haven't awarded premiers and a vast majority of the Victorian competitions which were cancelled also didn't award premiers."
The Bathurst Giants finished minor premiers in four grades, the women and under 17s doing so via undefeated campaigns, while the men's tier one side and under 12s also topped their respective divisions.
The Bathurst Bushrangers youth girls and Parkes Panthers men's tier two outfit were also undefeated minor premiers, while the under 14 Orange Tigers sat on top of their ladder with just one defeat.
The efforts of all minor premiership winning outfits were impressive, but White said the standard of competition across the grades this season impressed him too.
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