January 24 2012

Shepparton News

January 14 could go down as one of the biggest days in the history of Goulburn North East Football Association.

It was the day the Country Super League, a new competition form ed by the association and Griffith District Amateur Football Association, got the tick of approval from 10 clubs to go ahead this year.

Some clubs had been sceptical of joining the new competition, which will run separate from existing competitions and is aimed at reducing the inequality in senior ranks.

It was a big win for the region’s soccer administrators, who have long floated the idea of trying to start an elite competition.

The initial 32-page document, which was released to clubs in December, outlines in detail what both associations want the new competition to achieve.

Many may scoff at the main aim of the new competition to be the best outside of the A-League and metropolitan premier leagues, but anyone who took in last season’s GNEFA finals series would be left with little doubt that it could be realistic.

Add to that Cobram Victory’s success in the Mirabella Cup, a competition which pitted all Football Federation Victoria-registered clubs against one another in an FA Cup-style knockout competition.

Victory showed GNEFA clubs can mix it with their metropolitan counterparts, knocking off Whittlesea Zebras and Clifton Hill, before bowing out 2-1 against former National Soccer League power Melbourne Knights in a quarter-final.

Their efforts were rewarded by playing the curtain-raiser to the cup final for the Mirabella Regional Trophy against Ballarat Red Devils, the other regional club to progress to the round of 12.

The GNEFA preliminary finalists won 2-1.

Victory coach Craig Carley was adamant through their campaign that they could match the ‘‘big boys’’ and they did.

There is a lot more work to go into the new competition before it kicks off in April and whether it reaches the height of being the best competition outside the ‘‘big smoke’’ remains to be seen.

Regardless, the next few years promise to be exciting for soccer in the Goulburn Valley


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