Quambatook football club praised for establishing a ‘plan’ as it comes to an end

Last weekend, AFL fans across the country got fed up with the quality of the competition during the first round of the finals.

But the best game played that weekend may not have been at the MCG or the Gabba or the Perth Stadium, but in the village of Wandella, and in a rural little league soccer game four hours north of Melbourne.

In a game that gave new meaning to the sporting cliché “do or die”, Quambatook Football Club played the last game in its history.

In April, the club announced that it would withdraw at the end of the season due to a lack of youth players.

This set off a brilliant and emotional streak that even saw Quambatook beat top side Nullawill.

But on Saturday everything came to an end.

The Saints were a week away from the grand final of the Golden Rivers Football Netball League, but Moulamein ended his fairy tale streak from 10.15.75 to 10.8.68 in a contest of magnificent goals, controversial decisions and multiple changes of Leader.

B-Grade Netball also made it to the final but was eliminated in the first round.

A man in a black cap and black and red hoodie speaks to a packed room.  It is illuminated by yellow light.
Quambatook senior coach Tim Free addresses the club and supporters after Saturday’s loss.(ABC Wimmera: Alexander Darling)

Praise for a sports club

Former club chairman Rhys Carmichael said he was proud of how far the club had come, but also devastated.

“It’s really starting to affect a lot of people,” he said.

“We have our show day this Sunday, I think it’s going to be an emotional day for some. I don’t know what happens after that. It’s going to be pretty upsetting.”

“It was [a tough decision to make], but in another sense it wasn’t, we’ve really had problems with the volunteers. We haven’t had children in the club for a long time. It got to a point where we just couldn’t see a future for the club.

“It’s a weight off the shoulders that it’s over. It’s been a damn great year organizing everything.”

Man in muddy soccer uniform is pensive under a dark sky
Former president Rhys Carmichael says it’s still sinking in Quambatook that he no longer has a team.(ABC News: Jeremy Story Carter)

And that great year was destined to continue for Mr. Carmichael.

As a person, the death of the club meant answering some tough questions: What about the pitch they played on? What will the city do now for fun? Where will the men and women play next year?

In a meeting Tuesday night, the locals tossed out a bunch of ideas about how the Saints’ pitch could be used in the future.

The oval is on a committee-owned reservation that also includes a golf course, netball and tennis courts.

A country football field with a tin shed on one side.
The community met Tuesday night to hear ideas about future uses for the oval.(ABC News: Jeremy Story Carter)

“We’re planning to turn it into a community center, but we have to continue to pay for utilities and keep the land looking respectable,” Carmichael said.

“We have to keep trying to raise money to keep paying the bills, it will be a long process, but we knew that when we made this decision.

“[Selling it] It’s not something I think we would consider, the community needs a place to gather.”

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