Good Friday showed the football fraternity what it had missed.
Thousands flanked Alexandra Oval, spirits high and excitement at fever pitch.
The Wimmera league was back.
"You can't measure the importance of football returning," Dimboola coach Justin Beugelaar said.
"That first week back at training you could just see the happiness and enthusiasm in the faces of the players.
"Football had to happen this year, especially in Horsham and around this region. It's a lifeline for most people.
"As a coach you're looked up to by a lot of your team and you just try and wear that burden for them.
"You had to tell them that everything was going to be alright and motivate them during lockdown.
"I'm excited for football to be back."
It was a long winter without community sport and many are still wary of the uncertainty.
Football had to happen this year, especially in Horsham and around this region. It's a lifeline for most people.Justin Beugelaar
"If the footy season fell over again for whatever reason, or if it was put on hold, it would rip the heart out of all clubs, not just ours," Horsham Saints coach David Johns said.
"If there is talk of shutting in down for whatever reason it would be heart-wrenching for one the players, and two the supporters and volunteers.
Wimmera league clubs didn't waste the time spent away from competition.
In late 2020, all nine clubs and administrators voted unanimously in favour of merging the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association.
It brought and end to decades of discussion and the Wimmera Football Netball League was born.
A new league demanded a new board.
Pauline Butler was appointed chairperson, bringing experience from time spent as the former president of the Wimmera Netball Association and as netball commissioner for the Wimmera Football League.
Angela Ballinger was appointed her deputy. Ballinger is a Wimmera Netball Association life-member and sat on the independent body that explored the merger between the football and netball leagues.
Decades of sports administration experience and football nous was brought back into the fold.
Former AFL Wimmera-Mallee region manager Bruce Petering was given a football director's role.
On the field,
WFNL round one fixtures
All senior football games start at 2:20pm
Horsham Saints v Dimboola
Horsham v Nhill
Minyip-Murtoa v Warrack Eagles (to be played at Minyip)
BYE: Southern Mallee Giants
Ararat v Stawell
Round one game played on Good Friday
Ararat - 5.2.32 lost to Stawell - 15.19.109
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