An own goal

The saga that has plagued the Hills Football League (HFL) since the Central Division grand final has been an embarrassment for everyone.
Sadly the issue could not be resolved internally and the matter had to clog the already overburdened court system.
The only good thing about the final decision announced in the Supreme Court on Monday is that it gives some closure to the issue and allows everyone the opportunity to move on.
As soon as the farcical situation became clear that, under the HFL rules, the club which won the competition’s A-grade premiership would have to be demoted due to the poor performances of its B-grade and junior sides, the matter has staggered from the sublime to the ridiculous.
It might have been common knowledge to clubs that the relegation rule hinged on points given to minor round games only, but the wording of the by-law fails to make that clear which paved the way for Echunga’s ultimately successful legal challenge.
The real pity is that the matter had to chew up an estimated $50,000 in legal fees … money raised largely through hard working volunteers cooking barbecues and organising chook raffles.
The makeup of next year’s Central Division competition looks likely to be one of 11 teams including Echunga and the promoted Mt Lofty.
The real question is why the league’s administrators and the club delegates could not grasp the oft-mentioned shortcomings in the by-law and recognise that playing an 11-team competition for 12 months while the constitution was professionally rewritten and tightened was the best outcome.
Sending the Central Division premiers back to Country Division was not good for that competition, the image of the league or football in general.
It is galling, especially for club volunteers, that all this money was spent on lawyers only to arrive at a conclusion that was obvious to almost all fans of Hills football.
As soon as it was realised the constitution was flawed all parties needed to come together and make practical decisions to allow football, not lawyers, to be the winner.