Daylesford, Hepburn, Newlyn, Creswick, Clunes affected by Smythesdale pulling pin

HAPPIER TIMES: Smythesdale coach Stephen Frys after the Bulldogs beat Skipton in 2016 to record its first triumph in five years.
HAPPIER TIMES: Smythesdale coach Stephen Frys after the Bulldogs beat Skipton in 2016 to record its first triumph in five years.

Daylesford, Hepburn, Creswick, Clunes and Newlyn football clubs will be affected by Smythesdale not fielding a senior football team in the 2017 Central Highlands Football League season.

The five Hepburn Shire teams now face a bye in the rounds they were to play Smythesdale this season.

While the Smythesdale senior side has been placed in recess, the Bulldogs will continue to be part of the Central Highlands league this season.

Smythesdale is expected to field teams in all other grades of football and netball.

A statement issued by Bulldogs president David Tuohy said the club has come to the decision “due to unforeseen circumstances and a significant drop in senior player numbers”.

“The club does not take this decision lightly and will be doing all it can throughout this season to make sure it does not have a repeat occurrence for season 2018,” the statement read.

“We have been more than grateful to the board of the CHFL, who have been very helpful and flexible in making sure we get on the park this season.

“As a club we still have a lot of off-field work to do to make sure the club survives for the long term, and together with the Golden Plains Shire, CHFL and our volunteers, we believe we can make this happen.

“We thank all our sponsors, members and stakeholders for their ongoing support.”

With the fixture for the upcoming CHFL season already complete, teams scheduled to play Smythesdale in the senior football will now receive a bye and the four points.

Rokewood-Corindhap was scheduled to take on the Bulldogs in round one on Saturday, April 1.

This latest news follows a recent crisis meeting at Smythesdale, where the future of the club was discussed. This came after a public call for more players and volunteers to help the Bulldogs.

CHFL president Eddy Comelli said it was a disappointing position for the Bulldogs to find themselves in, but believed the current scenario gave the club some breathing space while still having a home for its juniors.

“We encourage them to keep going in whatever shape or form they see fit. If they can manage this, then all good,” Comelli said.

Smythesdale entered the CHFL from the defunct Lexton Plains competition ahead of the 2011 season, but has found the going tough, winning just three senior football matches since that time.

However, the Bulldogs’ decision to pull the pin on the side comes after a memorable 2016 campaign, which saw it break a five-year drought with a round two triumph over Skipton.

Stephen Frys will continue as head coach of the club, leading the reserves outfit into battle throughout 2017.