The Murrumbidgee Turf Club is disappointed its popular Aggies Race Day will again go head-to-head with the Farrer League grand final.
AFL Riverina has confirmed the 2018 decider will be on the third Saturday in September, the now-traditional date for the popular race day.
“I just think it’s absolutely bizarre that we’ve got one of the biggest race days of the spring, probably our biggest of the spring, and one of the biggest football games of the year for Wagga played on the same day,” MTC chief executive Scott Sanbrook said.
“From the racing point of view, I don’t think we lose too many people out of it. But we will lose a few and we don’t want to lose any.
“But I would think that would also be AFL Riverina’s view for their big day as well.”
The Aggies Race Day drew a near record crowd of around 5,500 this year.
The Farrer League grand final gate ($29,907) was also up, more than $4000 up on last year’s wet weather finale. But that was still $2700 down on the 2015 decider.
Sanbrook said the MTC doesn't have flexibility with its race date, pointing out the club had worked with Racing NSW to secure the meeting, and built on the day.
“It’s been on here since 2012.,” he said.
“We had to work hard to get the date and we’ve now had six race days and it keeps growing each year, to the point we’ve now got 5000 people coming. We’ve got a very specific window of opportunity in timing because of uni holidays and exams. We also have to fit in with hundreds of race clubs around the state as well.
“I do understand it's a very tricky situation for AFL Riverina – and I applaud the Farrer League management for trying to do something – but surely there can be a result where they don’t clash.”
AFL Riverina wants its four competitions – South West Juniors, Wagga and District Juniors, Farrer League and Riverina League – to culminate on consecutive weekends. It said fitting in with its junior leagues and avoiding too many rounds in April was the priority, and ruled out starting a week earlier.
Sanbrook said the outcome was a shame for the Charles Sturt University Football and Netball Club.
“I do think they’ve been treated as second class citizens because this is one of their biggest days,” he said. “I know finals is different but all through the year clubs can request not to clash with something big in their town and this is the equivalent for CSU.”
CSU president Harry Unthank said they accepted the decision.
“It is definitely a big day for the uni and we obviously voted against (the grand final being held on the same day),” Unthank said.
“But I understand how hard it is to make it all work. From our point of view, we’ll be in a bit of trouble if we have teams in grand finals but it’s just the way it works.
“We’re not bitter about it.”