THE choice of league appears to be the main stumbling block in a possible Horsham RSL Diggers-Pimpinio merger.
Representatives from the Wimmera-based football and netball club RSL Diggers and Horsham District club Pimpinio met at Horsham Cycling Club on Wednesday.
While only in the preliminary stage of discussions, both clubs seemed adamant that their current league was the better option.
About 150 people attended the meeting, chaired by former AFL Victoria Wimmera development manager Geoff Burdett.
Players, supporters and life members from both clubs attended.
The two clubs will meet independently at their respective clubrooms on Monday night, with financial and life members casting their vote on whether the Diggers and Tigers will form a united front.
Horsham RSL Diggers president Peter Miller said people were warming to the merger idea and compromise was the key.
“There has to be flexibility in compromise,” he said.
Pimpinio president Wally Dumesny said both clubs had passionate followers on the night and were keen to ‘keep the show alive’.
Dumesny said his club was split on the proposal, but more would be revealed on Monday night.
“We’re probably 50-50 at this stage but about 95 per cent of us want to remain in the district league whatever happens,” he said.
“That’s the vibe I’m getting from our club members, but only a show of hands on Monday will decide that.”
The ground was another topic that caused plenty of debate, with Dumesny believing Pimpinio Recreation Reserve would be the better option rather than sharing Horsham City Oval with Horsham Demons.
“Our ground is available 24-7 and would probably be the easier one to maintain,” he said.
AFL Victoria area manager Bruce Petering, who attended the meeting, said a business model was crucial for both clubs to understand what they were getting into.
“The details of what they put forward on Wednesday night was very general,” he said.
“My point to both clubs was if they want to progress, they’ll need a plan on what the new entity will look like.
“You can’t just vote on a merger and which league to go in – there’s a lot of other things that need to be discussed.”
The last merger involving a Wimmera league club was when Warracknabeal Lions and Mallee Football League side Brim Eagles formed Warrack Eagles before the 2001 season.
David Stewart, a former Brim footballer and Warrack Eagles president, said playing in the ‘major’ league was the logical decision and the move paid dividends, with the combine side making finals in 2001 before winning the WFL premiership the following year.
“There were no hassles about it at all really, it was pretty much agreed upon straight away,” he said.
“The opportunity to play in the higher league was good for all.”
AFL Victoria Country has set a deadline of November 30 for the merger.