PRIDE is on the line next year for the Wimmera and Horsham District football leagues with the release of the 2014 Victorian Country Football League WorkSafe Country Championship interleague schedule.
The district league will play at home for the second consecutive year with a match scheduled against Heathcote District Football League.
Wimmera will travel a short distance to play neighbouring North Central Football League.
The venues for both matches have yet to be decided, although the district side is likely to play at Horsham City Oval as it did this year.
The Wimmera and district leagues are the closest they have been in the Victorian Country Football League rankings, with the Horsham District league sitting 20th in the state and Wimmera 17th.
A win to the district league and a loss to Wimmera would see Wimmera drop below the district league in the rankings for the first time.
Mallee Football League is the highest-ranked team in the area at number 12 in the standings.
Mallee faces a gruelling road trip to take on Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League, which defeated the Wimmera league in a one-goal thriller in 2011.
Western Vic Football general manager Stephen McQueen said Wimmera teams would have plenty to play for.
With the Wimmera league playing in close proximity and the district league at home again, he said there could be large crowds at both matches again.
“Horsham District was fully-expecting to have to travel next year because of being at home this year, but we’re at home again which is good,” he said.
“The Wimmera and North Central one will be a bit of a local rivalry match as well.
“If Wimmera loses and district wins, Wimmera will be the lowest-ranked side out of the four local areas, so there’s a lot to play for.”
Mininera and District Football League will also join the country championship next season.
President Ruth Brain said the league had been intent on joining the competition since 2010 but had to wait for another side to drop out before being allowed in.
Mininera will play Golden Rivers Football League.
Mrs Brain said it was a great result for football in western Victoria, with five leagues containing teams in the Wimmera-Mallee region now in the championship.
“It will absolutely be a learning experience for everyone involved this year,” she said.
“We are so lucky to get into the country championship and to be hosting a game in our first year is amazing.
“It allows the players involved in the Mininera and District league the opportunity to advance their performance.”
Wimmera interleague fixtures
Yarra Valley Mountain District Football League (ranked 11th) v Mallee Football League (12) at Yarra Valley; Wimmera Football League (17) v North Central Football League (18) at North Central; Heathcote District Football League (19) v Horsham District Football League (20) at Horsham district; Mininera and District Football League (31) v Golden Rivers Football League (32) at Mininera.