Football in the Wimmera Football Netball League has been around in its present form since 1937.
Similar to what was previously discussed in the article on the Horsham District Football Netball League, the competition has evolved in some areas and remained similar in others.
While the HDFNL operates in the same region, football in the WFNL has long been seen as the superior competition in terms of skill; this is due to the clubs in the WFNL belonging to higher-populated towns and having greater resources.
The eight current WFNL teams are Minyip-Murtoa, Southern Mallee Giants, Stawell Warriors, Horsham Saints, Dimboola Roos, Horsham Demons, Ararat Rats, Warrack Eagles and Nhill tigers.
The league has lost teams over the journey (like Rupanyup and Horsham United), has seen teams merge to survive (like Minyip and Murtoa) and has added new teams (like the Southern Mallee Giants and Horsham Saints). But all-in-all the towns and teams involved have stayed relatively stable over the years.
Teams being forced to merge is mainly because of dwindling populations. Minyip-Murtoa 300-gamer and current president Scott Arnold, was playing for Murtoa when they merged with Minyip in 1995.
"It's purely based on population," Arnold said.
"I think Minyip and Murtoa probably could have stayed and played in the District League and still had a team, but they wouldn't have been able to compete at Wimmera League level."
While the WFNL standard has always been strong, Arnold admitted that it has dropped from what it was "30 or 40 years ago".
"But that's also population too," he said.
"The game's changed so much, like the style of game."
According to Arnold a strength of the Wimmera League has been the number of talented kids that bigger (population-wise) clubs like Ararat, the Saints and the Demons have coming through their juniors.
Over the years, an enormous amount of past and present AFL players have played their junior football at those clubs, including Adam Goodes, Seb Ross, Jake Lloyd, Darcy Tucker, Jarrod Berry and Tom Williamson.
"That game style of quick ball movement (in the WFNL) and pace on the game, gets driven a lot by that young demographic," he said.
"I think the Wimmera League style is really attractive to watch. There's a lot of pace on the ball, but teams play a style that suits their personnel too."
Horsham Demons have been the dominant team over the years with 26 premierships to their name, which included a ten-peat between 2003-2012. Outside of the Demons, premierships have been shared reasonably evenly, with Ararat laying claim to the next best total of 11.
Since the 2012 season, four clubs have won premierships and five have appeared in grand finals; suggesting that the competition has evened out somewhat since the Demons' dominant period.
"That was really unhealthy for the competition to be honest," Arnold said.
"Full credit to them it's an amazing effort. But In terms of the competition, it was far from ideal. You'd rather see a more even base."
Across the Wimmera and country football leagues in general there are plenty of clubs that sign imports to strengthen their list or fill a gap.
While the Wimmera league is no exception, the teams are based in sizably populated towns, so may not need to import as many players as teams from smaller towns in the HDFNL.
Arnold believes the amount of imports playing in the WFNL now is very similar to back when he played.
"At ours, we promote our locals and occasionally we bring some guys in to compliment our locals. But it's predominantly based on your locals," he said.
"Without commenting on other clubs it's demographic-based. I feel sorry for Nhill where they are geographically, they're in the middle of two capital cities, it's a real challenge."
Similar to its football counterpart, netball in the Wimmera Football Netball League includes the exact same clubs and is seen as a higher standard to the District League.
According to Horsham Demons netball director Emma Hopper, it is the consistent high standard across Wimmera League sides that sets them apart from the District League.
"I think what you get is, there's a couple of standout teams and a couple of really standout players in the district," Hopper said.
"Overall the average of the players across the teams in the Wimmera League are all of a higher standard and you actually get a lot closer competition between the group of teams that are in there, particularly in the higher grades.
"It can be anyone's game on any day which makes the competition really strong."
The Wimmera Netball Association previously ran separately to the Wimmera Football League before they merged in 2020 to become the Wimmera Football Netball League. Pauline Butler was appointed as chairperson of the new entity.
Before, the Wimmera Netball Association worked via a rotation system in which clubs would take turns annually to run the administration.
Hopper believed it had been good to have "some people that are dedicated to being on the ball".
"Things are changing so rapidly there's information coming through everyday at times," she said.
"Just to have someone like Jen (French) at the hub has been brilliant and backing up with Jason and the board. That's been a big job for them, but having a bulk of that stuff done by people that are there working in it everyday has made it a lot easier.
"It would have been tough for volunteers to handle all of that."
Imports? Mainly our juniors that have come up and through that are local and then just happen to sometimes pick up some people that moved to town and maybe a partner of a player that comes to footy. It's certainly become a harder thing to compete because a lot of leagues and clubs are going different ways, which is something noticeable over recent years with coaches and players. Most in our league have stuck to the same way that they've always done it, which is good.
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