The spectacle of the Limestone Coasts football leagues fighting toe to toe for supremacy was missed last year, but the region’s best players will represent their respective competitions with pride this weekend when the Limestone Coast Regional Carnival fires back to life at Millicent’s McLaughlin Park.
Sadly the popular one-day celebration of football will not feature all three leagues this weekend after the KNTFL decided to pull out, but the 2021 edition should still be as fiery as ever with the two 2019 grand finalists squaring off.
The contest between the Western Border and Mid South Eastern football leagues will be unmissable as the two rivals fight across a full four-quarter match.
In previous years, the Limestone Coast Regional Carnival has been decided in the round-robin format with “Big Bash” style two-quarter games.
But 2021 sees a return to a standalone match with same rules and time lengths everyone knows and loves.
After Steve Duldig coached the WBFL to victory in the previous carnival in 2019, former South Gambier and Casterton star Justin Munro takes over the reigns for the title defence.
Munro has experience leading the South West Football League representative team, but said he was proud to be given the task of leading Western Border’s interleague side for the first time.
“It was definitely an accolade when I was approached by the Western Border officials and now I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“It has been great so far, getting to know the personalities of players from other teams.
“They are a good bunch of blokes and are very committed.” Despite the WBFL’s two best players from the 2019 event Dylan Bromley and Jonah Grimes not returning, there is still talent everywhere you look with all five clubs well represented.
The undefeated South Gambier Demons boast the most players led by youngsters Todd Reid and Colby Munro, who are one of five Under 21’s in the squad.
One of the joys of interleague football is seeing familiar foes join forces and Brayden Kain hopes to enjoy plenty of goal-scoring success alongside Millicent’s Gene Robinson.
Robinson has set the WBFL alight with 51 goals in just eight games and will be keen take his stardom to the next level with many Saints around him.
Matt Willson will be the eyes and ears on the field as assistant coach and will proudly stand alongside other Bulldogs, while Casterton Sandford’s Dylan Ayton has also offered plenty of leadership.
North Gambier still fields a strong amount, as does fellow 2019 grand finalist West Gambier and their players should feature prominently around the ground.
With so many stars to choose from, Justin Munro believes the youth and midfield are the biggest strengths of the loaded side.
“Our on-ball brigade is very strong with some superstar players who have been around for a long time like Lawry Bradley-Brown, Jacob Carger, Jayden Eldridge, Nick McInernrey and Scott Endrel,” he said.
“They will roll through the middle and the five Under 21’s are super talented, so lets see if we can get the edge with them.” Preparations have been going for about a month with Wednesday night sessions and the final on-track hit out took place at Vansittart Park last night with jumper presentations.
The WBFL side will aim for a repeat of the 2019 grand final where it defeated MSEFL by just two points with Kain kicking a pair of goals.
Despite history on his side, Munro is bracing for another arm wrestle.
“I expect the Mid South East team to be very tough around the ball and go at full tilt,” he said.
“They will be very tall in the ruck department, so hopefully we can find an area somewhere else that can work for us.
“I do think we might have the edge in the running side of things, but they will make every contest count, so at the end of the day it will be whatever team can gel the best together.” With South East zone spots up for grabs and regional pride at stake, Munro believes country football does not get much bigger than the Limestone Coast Regional Carnival.
“Some blokes do not get to play in a grand final, so the next best thing is representative football and some people can rise a big higher in these situations,” he said.
“Interleague football highlights the better players and showcases the juniors, so it is a highlight and a stepping stone for things further down the track.” Munro expects “big things” from the junior Under 15 and 17 representative sides, which will play both the MSEFL and KNTFL in shorter games from 9.50am.
The seniors battle will kick off at 2.50pm.