Major changes to local footy

Symon Hill clears the ball in a pre-season game against The Basin.

In one of the biggest ever makeovers in local sport, Olnda-Ferny Creek and Upwey-Tecoma Football-Netball Clubs will go into battle against teams from Melbourne’s major growth areas.

Narre Warren, Pakenham and Cranbourne are among seven clubs that have joined the old AFL Yarra Ranges competition.

This competition has been rebranded as AFL Outer East and will have three divisions.

Olinda-Ferny Creek and Upwey-Tecoma are the only ‘Hills’ teams to make the Premier Division.

Three teams from the Yarra Valley: Woori Yallock, Wandin and Healesville, will also play at the elite level.

Although one of the smallest communities in the new competition, which stretches from Cranbourne to Upwey and out to Yea, Olinda-Ferny Creek has been rewarded after three years of strong football and netball results.

The Bloods will host Narre Warren on Saturday 13 March.

President Ian Taylor says “it’s a huge honour for the community to play sport at this level and while the club is realistic about the size of the task that confronts it there’s also incredible excitement”.

Mr Taylor also praised the Shire of Yarra Ranges and local members James Merlino and Jason Wood for helping to provide the facilities which have contributed to the club’s rise to bench mark status.

In particular Mr Taylor said he’s excited by the new training ground which will be part of the multi-million dollar Olinda golf course redevelopment.

Mr Taylor points out that it will give the club long term access to an area that has been used since the 1960s and also help cater for the large number of girls now wanting to play Australian Rules football.