REPRESENTATIVES from four Wagga clubs will visit Griffith on Saturday to open long-awaited expansion talks with the Griffith District Football Association.
All nine local clubs and GDFA committee members are expected to be in attendance for the discussions with Lake Albert, Henwood Park, Tolland FC and newly crowed champions Wagga United over joining Griffith’s competition next year.
“It’s just a talk, to chew the fat and weigh up the positives and the negatives,” GDFA president Matthew Curran told The Area News.
“We’re not saying they’re fully committed but all our clubs will be in attendance and we’ll go over the possibilities.”
The Area News is aware Lake Albert is leading the charge and its decision could force the hand of the rest of the Wagga competition.
It is understood players and officials in Wagga are growing increasingly dissatisfied with the standard and administration of their league and also the lack of variety, given the top-flight Pascoe Cup consists of only five teams.
Some players have even informed their clubs they would no longer continue unless a change is made to the competition.
If given the nod, the Wagga sides will be asked to enter teams across four grades – senior men’s and women’s, reserves and under 18s.
Lake Albert captain and treasurer Lachlan Curran, a cousin of the GDFA president, said it was “not viable” for football in Wagga to carry on in its current form.
“Something needs to be done,” he said.
“We sat down a couple of weeks ago with our guys to see their thoughts, and the main reason is they need more teams to play against.
“It’s not good enough only having four or five teams that you play four times a year.
“It’s not good for the players and it doesn’t give them any variety.
“The clubs have been planning for the future and we’re just coming over to see what’s available and what the opinions of all the (Griffith) clubs are.”
Curran said he was confident Wagga’s best clubs will be able to compete with the likes of GDFA powerhouses Yoogali SC and Hanwood FC, but admitted patience will be needed with the weaker sides.
“It’ll be tough for a couple of the teams, but Wagga’s also got some really good players and teams,” he said.
“But there’ll be a couple that will struggle and it might take them a couple of years to build.
“It’s the same anywhere you go – a couple of good sides that are a mile ahead of everyone.
“That’s what happened this year in Wagga with United and Lake Albert.
“I know there’s a number of clubs in Griffith looking at going elsewhere – whether that’s down in Shepparton again I don’t know.
“If (the Griffith clubs) don’t want us to come over, there’s no point talking about anything else.”
The Lake Albert skipper said he was unsure what the administrative ramifications of the move would be, with the possibility of the Wagga clubs breaking away from their association and signing up with the GDFA on the table.
Matthew Curran said he did not expect the travel factor to be an issue amongst the local clubs.
“It happens in the RFL, the union, Group 20 ... it’s just the way it is. The biggest (concern) is to make the Wagga sides competitive,” he said.
“They will probably need some imports.
“Nobody’s going to win by them coming here and teams flogging them by 10 or 15.”
Curran also said the controversial import cap mooted by the GDFA will be discussed at Saturday’s meeting.