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By GRAEME HODGART
THE start of a new WRFL season is upon us. Last season now seems to be a distant memory with all eyes focused firmly on the task ahead. That is, of course, Round One.
A new season brings with it a mixture of the old and the new. Many things are the same, but there are also quite a few changes in the wind.
Just three of the more obvious are Caroline Springs competing in Division 1 Seniors for the first time and Glen Orden will not be fielding any senior men’s teams.
It’s always a shame when this happens. Hopefully the establishment of a Glen Orden women’s team, their various junior sides and that hard core group of passionate supporters can help the club find its way through this rough patch.
Thirdly, the big push Australia wide is the development of the female teams and this is set to become just a normal and expected part of all clubs both old and new.
In the umpiring department there are also changes. The biggest and most obvious change will be their uniform, which thanks to the new WRFL Umpires sponsor, RAMS Home Loan Centre Western Region.
RAMS have incorporated the REACH Foundation in their branding, this is to recognise the important work REACH will be undertaking with the youth of the west.
Goodbye to the traditional white with a dash or two of blue and red, and welcome in the AFL style green and grey.
It will take a little while for everyone to get used to it. No more yelling out obscenities to the man in white. We have definitely moved on from that.
The first month of the season may be a transitional period with some umpires still in the white with others proudly donning the new gear.
The same faces in the WRFL umpiring circle generally remain constant. The ‘old brigade’ of Henry McFerran, Terry O’Donnell, Paul Battaglia, Mark Westgarth, John Sutton, Rene van Kuyk, Terry McGarity, Evan Eliopoulos and Andrew Fregonese will all at some stage emerge from the rooms to take charge of games.
Last year the field umpiring stocks were overflowing with many young new faces but rumour has it that some ‘older hands’ in Greg Denison, Adrian O’Donnell and Brett Ritchie will all be making comebacks in the WRFL.
Good luck to each and every player, club official and umpire, field, boundary and goal, as they each begin a new season.
Hopefully this year will be even bigger and better than 2016.