By Nick Creely
The Berwick Football Club is officially Eastern Football Netball League (EFNL) bound.
The Wickers – who won senior football flags in 2015, 2017 and 2018, as well as finishing runner-up in 2019 in the AFL Outer East – will join the powerful Eastern league’s Premier Division in 2021, joining local clubs Noble Park and Rowville after being officially transferred to the competition in a move that’s been mooted for almost two years. The Wickers will become the competition’s 46th senior club.
It was back in early December last year at the EFNL annual general meeting that the clubs voted an overwhelming majority towards the Wickers moving into the competition, pending a transfer from the club’s latest competition, AFL Outer East and ratification by AFL Victoria.
The club, which is one of the most powerful football clubs in the south east corridor, has long expressed a desire to join the formidable suburban competition as the club and the community continue to grow in numbers. It will field seniors, reserves, under-19s and women’s sides in 2021.
The addition of Berwick will provide the league with an 11-team competition in Premier, with a return to 10 teams in 2022.
In a statement issued on Monday last week, the league said that the Berwick Football Club will add so much to the powerful league, with clubs informed of Berwick’s arrival that afternoon.
“Berwick’s home ground, Edwin Flack Reserve, is a high quality venue for sport in general and the club’s facilities are state of the art and will fit in perfectly with the rest of the league,” a league statement read.
“The league is very excited by the addition of the Berwick Football Club to the league and we wish them all the best in their inaugural season.”
Berwick president Glenn Gambetta said the club was absolutely delighted to be joining the Eastern Football League after a long process.
“The excitement at the club is unprecedented,“ he said.
“In these most uncertain times, when no one knows what’s around the corner, the only thing that these guys have had to look to from a football perspective is the fact that we’re going to Eastern.
“It sets a challenge for us, and we’re really looking forward to it.“
Gambetta said the move was not just going to benefit the football club, but the entire region.
“We had a belief that a club in the area had to put their hand up – the good kids going through here and Gippsland, if they want to play they have to travel to a Noble Park or Rowville,“ he said.
“So we’ve made this decision just as much for football in the area as for the Berwick Football Club.“
Gambetta thanked the Eastern Football Netball League for facilitating the move across from the Outer East.
“I’d really like to thank Troy Swainston (Eastern CEO) and the board, they’ve been fantastic in supporting us and assisting us,“ he said.
“They’ve had the resolve to get us over the line, so all credit to them.“
AFL Outer East region general manager Aaron Bailey confirmed that the Berwick Netball Club will remain in the AFL Outer East, with just the senior football club transferring to the Eastern league, and wished the Wickers the best for the future.
“AFL Outer East can confirm that the Berwick Football Club has been successful in its application to join the Eastern Football Netball League for season 2021,” Bailey said.
“We are pleased to announce that the Berwick Netball Club will remain in the AFL Outer East in 2021, with all 10 sides competing in netball next year.
“AFL Outer East and the Berwick Netball Club have begun the process of developing a long term vision for the club that will ensure it has the structures in place that will see the club compete in a football/netball structure in the long term in the Outer East.
“Further announcements in regards to competition structures, salary caps and player points will be made shortly.
“AFL Outer East wishes Berwick Football Club the best for the future.”