The disappointment of a postponed football and netball season will become a reality for followers of the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association on Friday.
Football and netball was scheduled to make a grand return with a Good Friday clash between the Ararat Rats and the Stawell Warriors.
The fourth instalment of the annual Good Friday contest was expected to draw a crowd comparable to a preliminary final.
Adding to the occasion was the scheduled appearance of AFL premiership player Dale Thomas, who had agreed to play a one-off game for the Rats in their season-opener.
But on Friday, Alexandra Oval will remain dormant, as organised sport was postponed until at least May 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stawell Warriors coach Tom Eckel said he had come to terms with the absence of football, but admitted Friday would feel somewhat hollow.
"It's disappointing we can't play our first game of the year, because everyone gets pretty excited for the Good Friday game," he said.
"It's normally a good crowd and a good fundraiser - the same as a final, if not bigger.
"Both teams look forward to it, so it is a real shame."
Ararat Rats president David Hosking said it was a "massive disappointment", both for club and community.
"Good Friday between Ararat and Stawell - all credit to the guys that came up with the concept, it has been an outstanding success and I have no doubt this year would've been the biggest yet," he said.
I have no doubt this year would've been the biggest yet,- David Hosking
"We were pretty excited about having Daisy Thomas - and if we want to talk of it in commercial terms, it is worth a lot of money for us.
"We're going to miss it and we're disappointed, obviously.
"But, having said all that, at the end of the day, with what's going on in the world, I think footy shuffles down the priority list a little bit.
"We all just want to make sure we're doing the best by the community. We're going to miss it for sure, but so is everyone."
Mr Hosking said the club would continue discussions with Thomas about a potential appearance for the club - whether that is in 2020 or beyond.
"It would've been great. He's played for two of the biggest clubs in the country, won a premiership and been a great player," he said.
"We'll ask the question and see what might happen."
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