By VINCE RUGARI
BITTER rivals Yoogali SC and Hanwood FC will renew hostilities in a grand final rematch to kick off what looms as the biggest GDFA season to date.
Champions YSC will host minor premiers Hanwood at EW Moore Oval on Sunday, April 6 in a blockbuster opening round contest - one of the highlights of the new GDFA draw, released this week.
"That game will definitely start the season with a bang," GDFA president Mathew Curran said.
"I hope everyone gets out there - both clubs have been training the house down from what I've heard.
"There's no love lost between those two."
Hanwood will be out to avenge their grand final loss to YSC, who took the championship thanks to a solitary goal from star striker Dane Ballard in a stunning match at Exies Oval.
Elsewhere in the opening round, Hanwood Juniors will take on Yoogali FC and Leeton United face Griffith City on the night of Saturday, April 5, while new GDFA club Eastern Wanderers will make their debut away to West Griffith SC.
The Wagga-based team's first home game is against Yoogali FC in round two, and will most likely be at their designated home ground in Forest Hill, Curran said.
"They want to move to Gissing Oval, but it's unachievable I think - I doubt that will happen," he said.
The draw features less Saturday night games than last season, when two were scheduled every round.
Curran said the change was in direct response to pleas from local clubs for more matches on Sunday afternoons.
"That's what everyone was pushing for," he said.
"Sunday games are a lot more popular amongst the clubs.
"A lot more people get out to Sunday games, especially in the cold of winter.
"But due to referee availability, we've still got to play Saturday games - we have no choice."
The GDFA grand final will be held on Sunday, September 7 at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue.
Exies Oval hosted the competition's showpiece last year and the move was lauded as a huge success, but Curran said a return to the ground was no guarantee.
Asked if he was concerned about the clash with Group 20's major semi-final, which will be held on the same day, Curran responded curtly: "No."
There are two general byes scheduled - the first on Easter weekend after round two, and the second for the June long weekend after round eight.
The draw also sees GDFA games played across the Anzac Day weekend for the first time ever, but Curran said he was not concerned about competing for attention with the Griffith Swans' centenary celebrations.
"None of our crowd has anything to do with the Swans, so that's not an issue either," he said.