FOOTBALL on Good Friday between the Ararat Rats and Stawell Warriors will once again open the Wimmera Football League season in 2018.
The two teams will clash in a stand alone fixture to start the season for a second year in a row despite the Easter weekend falling early than normal next year.
It means that both clubs will face close to a month off before playing their second game of the season on April 28.
League chief commissioner Trevor Albrecht said he still expected a cracking crowd to attend the game at Ararat.
“I know it’s an odd time but the AFL would have started by then and I reckon it will be an absolute corker down there,” he said.
Nhill will host the Warrack Eagles to start their season on April 21 before Minyip-Murtoa host Dimboola in the evening.
The Horsham Demons and Horsham Saints will face off on Sunday April 22. Fans will have to wait until round three before Horsham and Minyip-Murtoa meet for the first time following the 2017 grand final.
“I think everyone was fairly happy with the fixtures,” he said.
“There are probably a couple less night games and maybe one less Sunday but that’s what the club’s wanted for next season.
“They may re-embrace that them the following year but we’ll see how it goes.”
Interleague will be played on May 19 against the Bellarine Football League.
“We are excited to play Bellarine here again,” Albrecht said.
“We had them here about three years ago when it was a very close game and it will be a hard to defeat league.”
The interleague weekend will likely look a little bit different due to the Bellarine league not having junior divisions.
It means that only a senior team will travel to take on the Wimmera league’s best footballers.
Albrecht said the league would explore different options in order to not just have the senior game as a stand alone fixture.
“We’d love to have the juniors on show in some capacity but they do get chance to represent through the Rebels program and stuff like that,” he said.
“The idea might also be thrown out there to play a women’s game as a possible prelude to the seniors.
“It will be something in one of those two areas; we’d definitely like to have something as a lead up rather than just walking in cold for a senior game.”
Round 1 – April 21: Ararat v Stawell (Good Friday, March 30), Nhill v Warrack Eagles, Minyip-Murtoa v Dimboola, Horsham Demons v Horsham Saints
Round 2 – 28 April: Horsham Saints v Nhill, Stawell v Horsham Demons, Dimboola v Ararat, Warrack Eagles v Minyip-Murtoa
Round 3 – May 5: Nhill v Dimboola, Horsham Demons v Minyip-Murtoa, Ararat v Warrack Eagles, Horsham Saints v Stawell
Round 4 – May 12: Stawell v Nhill, Dimboola v Horsham, Minyip-Murtoa v Ararat, Warrack Eagles v Horsham Saints
Interleage – May 19 v Bellarine Football League
Round 5 – May 26: Nhill v Minyip-Murtoa, Ararat v Horsham, Stawell v Warrack Eagles
Round 6 – June 2: Ararat v Nhill, Horsham v Warrack Eagles, Minyip-Murtoa v Horsham Saints, Dimboola v Stawell
June 9 – Long Weekend: Bye
Round 7 – June 16: Nhill v Horsham Demons, Horsham Saints v Ararat, Stawell v Minyip-Murtoa, Warrack Eagles v Dimboola
Round 8 – 23 June: Warrack Eagles v Nhill, Horsham Saints v Horsham Demons, Stawell v Ararat, Dimboola v Minyip-Murtoa
Round 9 – 23 June: Nhill v Horsham Saints, Horsham Demons v Stawell, Ararat v Dimboola, Minyip-Murtoa v Warrack Eagles
Round 10 – July 7: Minyip-Murtoa v Horsham Demons
Round 10 – July 14: Dimboola v Nhill; Warrack Eagles v Ararat, Stawell v Horsham Saints;
Round 11 – July 21: Nhill v Stawell, Horsham Demons v Dimboola, Ararat v Minyip-Murtoa, Horsham Saints v Warrack Eagles
Round 12 – July 28: Minyip-Murtoa v Nhill, Horsham Demons v Dimboola, Ararat v Minyip-Murtoa, Dimboola v Horsham Saints
Round 13 – August 4: Nhill v Ararat, Warrack Eagles v Horsham Demons, Horsham Saints v Miniyip-Murtoa, Stawell v Dimboola
Round 14 – August 11: Horsham Demons v Nhill, Ararat v Horsham Saints, Minyip-Murtoa v Stawell, Dimboola v Warrack Eagles
Round 15 – August 18: Nhill v Dimboola, Horsham Demons v Horsham Saints, Ararat v Stawell, Minyip-Murtoa v Warrack Eagles
Round 16 – August 25: Dimboola v Ararat, Horsham Saints v Minyip-Murtoa, Stawell v Nhill, Warrack Eagles v Horsham Demons
September 1: Qualifying Final
September 2: Elimination Final
September 8: Second Semi-Final
September 9: First semi-final
September 16: Preliminary Final
September 22: Grand Final