Mid South East side strives to smash ‘interleague duck’

Will Millicent be painted red (and black) on Saturday night if the Mid South Eastern Football  League (MSEFL) can win the inter-league contest against Western Border at  McLaughlin Park? If the MSEFL can indeed lower the double blue colours of its neighbour in a full-scale match, it will arguably be one of the proudest days since the league was founded in 1936.

Although the MSEFL has defeated the WBFL in some round robin shortened matches, its history in full-scale matches does not favour the team coached by Ben McGregor of Port MacDonnell.

Long-time followers of local footy can recall a match at Blue Lake Sports Park in the late 1980s when the MSEFL was unceremoniously crushed by the Western Border by a big margin.

The Footy Gods have not been smiling  on the MSEFL in recent weeks with numerous first-choice players now unavailable for  selection.

Players of the class of Jake Wight (Hatherleigh), Zacc Cocks (Glencoe), Tom Williams (Robe), Dylan Ridley (Mount Burr) and Matt Weistra (Kongorong) have  already spent much of 2021 on the sidelines due to injuries.

New Glencoe coach Frazer Scanlon is also in this category and will not add to his representative honours this season.

Scanlon has worn the colours of the MSEFL, WBFL and the Murray South East and fully supports the involvement of his Murphies on Saturday.

 “Playing inter-league gives you the opportunity to be selected in the Murray South  East team and play in the SA Country Championships,” Scanlon said.

MSEFL president Peter Mitchell said the league committee and nine clubs were  strongly committed to the concept of interleague football and were prepared to wear  the financial cost.

“There are no bus hire costs and we already bought guernseys and so on last year but interleague was not held due to COVID,” Mitchell said.

“We support the program of the three SE leagues playing each other in two underage grades and then one senior interleague game.

“Next year, the MSEFL hopes to stage this carnival with the WBFL taking its turn to have a rest from a full-scale senior game.” McGregor has an insider’s’ knowledge of the WBFL having been its interleague vice-captain in 2010 during a four-season  stint with South Gambier.

He is overseeing three training runs with co-selectors Zacc Cocks and ex-Hatherleigh coach Jase Faulkner.

His prior coaching experience has been at his home club and with the MSEFL team at Naracoorte in 2019.

Despite the long injury list, McGregor expects the MSEFL players will do well given the enthusiasm on the training track.

“Under Jack Kelly and Ben Mules, the MSEFL has successfully adapted its style of play in interleague football,” McGregor said.

“We will have a good starting four in the centre square in Daron McElroy, Tom Wachel, Lachy Jones and Jack Dawe.

“All the club coaches are supporting us.” A win by the MSEFL on Saturday might boost its chances of hosting a high-level contest within its boundaries.

Over 30 years have passed since the MSEFL has hosted either an AFL or SANFL fixture on one of its ovals with the two other SE leagues instead getting all the attention.

SANFL clubs Port Adelaide and Glenelg played a Foundation Cup match at Robe in 1989 but, since then, MSEFL supporters have been starved of any high-level action.

A win over a so-called major league might go a long way to redressing this imbalance.

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