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The Courier SPORT Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – PAGE 5
Times have certainly changed over the Hills
Football League since its formation back in
Initially the competition comprised three zones (or
divisions), while even four divisions were utilised during
1972 and 1973.
Overall, basically since 1979 the league have staged
A-grade level football within two divisions.
There was a period when clubs were happy with the
composition of the particular divisions ... the larger and
more powerful clubs seated within the top-tier division,
while the smaller and more rurally positioned Hills clubs
opted for the lower division.
Of course, there have always been those ambitious
clubs which wished to test the ‘deeper waters’ and apart
from 1983 – when procrastination within the league
format led to the unsuccessful ploy of all clubs playing
in one division – the likes of Kersbrook, Nairne-Bremer,
Echunga, Ironbank, Birdwood and Torrens Valley have
all taken on a challenge of competing within the top-tier.
However, in recent seasons, that desire has increased
with greater intensity, so much so that the powers-that-be
have had to utilise the promotion and relegation process
as outlined in the league’s by-laws and constitution.
The desire of Torrens Valley to compete in the higher
tier set the tone for the implementation of the promotion
and relegation issue for the 2011 season, with the Valley
Lions displacing Birdwood – in accordance with the
It was genuinely the first instance of a club being
demoted through the performance-based system, as
the somewhat controversial decision to relegate both
Echunga and Ironbank for the 1998 season came
through different circumstances.
Since the Lions elevation to top-tier, it has unleashed
the competitive desire of a few Division 2 clubs to
actively pursue the opportunity to be part of the higher
level ... and why not?
We all want the best for our particular club, and if that
particular club’s management and playing and support
group are strong enough – together with fulfilling the
required criteria – why should it be denied the chance
to follow ambitions.
Thus a situation has arisen that may never have been
envisaged in the ‘steady she goes’ world we have
embellished over the by-gone decades of Hills football.
There are now clubs which actually want to seek
promotion ... and thus on the other end of the scale,
without an increase in the number of clubs competing in
Division 1, there will be clubs relegated.
So, we can expect the movement of clubs between the
two divisions becoming more on a regular basis.
It appears a far more settled process to gain promotion
as per the by-laws ... simply make the Division 2 A-grade
final, and if appeasing the requirements and receiving
the grace of the Hills board, you step up.
However, it has become evident the format of
determining the club to be relegated is becoming far
from an even playing field.
The relegation process is based around points
accumulated by club teams from Under 15 level through
to A-grade ... a simple straight forward situation you may
Interestingly, the situation has developed where clubs
within the same competition are assisting other clubs
to fill some junior sides due to an apparent shortage of
There is also the alleged situation of clubs being granted
permits to play over age players in particular junior
grades to enable them to fill those particular teams.
Thus in the context of a relegation system, ponder
these possible scenarios:
a club which has provided excess junior players
to support another having a shortfall finds itself in the
relegation ‘hot seat’ and possibly beaten both during
the season and on the points table by the club it has
effectively ‘helped keep on the park’.
.. . a club fulfilling the requirements of fielding all junior
teams is relegated due to the fact that it finished with
inferior relegation points to a club which has had its
juniors propped up with assistance from another club.
.. . c ould a club in the aforementioned situations have
justifiable grounds to reject and appeal against a
possible relegation issue?
Juniors, particularly Under 15 level, are still well within
the spectrum of learning the game and hopefully
enjoying playing football ... does including them in
what is becoming a ‘dog eat dog’ grab for points to
avoid relegation place them under unwarranted extra
Without being too dramatic, could the thoughts of young
teenage players carry the notions of “Gee, we lost the
game and now we have put our club in the position of
staring down the relegation barrel!”
Is it fair in the whole composition of Division 1 football
that clubs which historically struggle to field a full
complement of junior sides continue to be included in
And before jumping to conclusions on this opinion,
take time to discuss the above within the Hills football
community and you will soon discover a discontent,
anger and growing lack of confidence in the system,
which in turn is providing a ‘white ant’ effect on our
There was a general consensus that following the
happenings over last summer in regard to promotion and
relegation, the local league had the opportunity to draw
a line in the sand, start afresh and create a system to
benefit and offer an equal footing for all.
Sadly, that appears to have failed to materialise.
Let’s get rid of the belief of ‘that will never happen’ ...
haven’t we already suffered significant lessons in that
Already a pattern appears likely that a club demoted to
Division 2 will certainly be pushing to regain a place in
Division 1 ranks, thus ensuring the promotion/relegation
situation will remain a key issue.
I suggest the process must be streamlined to create
an even standing for all those clubs which participate in
Division 1 competition ... and thus could possibly be in
the sights of relegation.
Perhaps a revised relegation system could only feature
points from senior teams – A-grade and B-grade – being
utilised in the process, such as used in Amateur League
Most Division 1 clubs do have strong senior depth,
while also the pressure on our developing teenage junior
footballers would be removed.
To be promoted is based solely on the performance of
the seniors ... so why not make the relegation process
If clubs are struggling for a particular age group (eg
Junior Colts), you can be assured the shortfall will carry
through when that crop of players move through to the
next junior age category, unless a major abundance of
teenagers suddenly appears within the club.
The sharing of excess players to assist other clubs to
field sides is to be commended, but the tide of goodwill
could assume a distinctive bad swell if it were to have an
impact on relegation prospects.
It may be easy to dismiss any or all of the above as
insignificant ... however, if the promotion and relegation
system is here to stay and be utilised effectively, it must
be fair and balanced for all.
Once again the direction of our league is in the hands
of a governing body which can ill afford to have another
chaotic situation appear on its doorstep.
Time to promote
Uraidla Districts stalwart Paul
Richards will formally celebrate
the achievement of 250 Hills
appearances this Saturday.
A check of league records confirmed
the 33-year-old chalked up the milestone
against Mt Lofty in Round 6, however, the
feat will be recognised by the northern
Demons during Saturday’s visit to meet
Richards commenced his decorated
playing career with Uraidla at the age of
nine in Under 10 competition during 1991.
The team – which included fellow
stalwart Andrew Moulds – stayed together
for a period of time, and in graduating out
of Under 12 ranks, had not lost a match
over four seasons.
Known affectionately as ‘Pucker’,
Richards also played at SAPSASA level
and represented Cornerstone College in
secondary school competition between
While graduating through Uraidla’s junior
grades, Richards made appearances in
under-age ranks for the Sturt Football
Club, before launching into his A-grade
career for the Demons.
Since then he has become an integral part
of Uraidla’s impressive run over the past
decade under coach Scott Sutherland,
which has netted five premierships.
Signalling an ability to rise to the occasion
on the big stage, Richards has received
the Alec Parker Award as the best player
afield in three grand finals, while he has
won Uraidla’s revered Ralph Sutton
Memorial Trophy as best and fairest player
once, having been runner up on five other
Well respected by his peers, Richards
has played for the Hills league at senior
representative level seven times, and
has been a consistent vote catcher in
numerous Mail Medal counts.
He missed the 2012 season while
travelling in the UK with wife Jemma,
but still managed to get his football fix by
playing in the London AFL competition
with West London Wildcats.
A proud club person, Richards acted
as Uraidla’s Senior Colts coach in 2014
but stepped down this season due to
increasing employment commitments in
the real estate industry.
Appointed captain of the Demons for
2015, the 250 A-grade achievement has
deservedly qualified Richards for player
life membership of the HFL.
– Jeff Pistola.
Milestone for Richards
Lobethal answered the sceptics
with an extremely impressive
performance against previously
undefeated Torrens Valley at
Thomas Foods International Park
The Tigers commenced the 2015 Hills
Football League Division 1 campaign with
an indifferent record.
Strong performances against Mt Lofty
and Onka Valley, were mixed with scratchy
displays against Hahndorf, Echunga and
Aufderheide became frustrated as on
paper the Tigers possess a top-three outfit,
however, they hadn’t demonstrated that
A response was well and truly delivered
in more ways than one last Saturday,
especially after half-time, as everything
clicked into gear.
Torrens Valley ventured to Lobethal Oval
harnessing an unblemished record and
midway through the second quarter that
appeared to be in check.
Three successive goals inside five minutes
from Damon Hill and Tate Giadresco
handed Torrens Valley a three-goal lead at
the 18-minute mark of the second stanza.
Remarkably, Lobethal then kicked nine of
the following 12 goals, including a seven-
goal burst in the third term.
The Tigers ran out convincing 17-14 to
14-10 winners, with Alex Wills and Braydn
Fisher kicking four goals apiece, whilst Tim
Jenkin’s pace through the midfield was a
highlight with two goals.
Beautiful conditions greeted both sides for
the Round 6 clash of the neighboring rivals.
The contest commenced as a tight affair,
with both teams going hard at the ball and
Neither side hit the scoreboard until
midway through the first term, when Joe
Zadow started the ball rolling with his only
goal, converted from adjacent the cricket
The game started to open up from that
Torrens Valley were getting plenty of drive
from half back through Thomas Starkey,
Tom Eichner and Jacob Broad delivering to
the forward line.
Dale Ellis loomed large up forward for the
Lions, kicking two goals for the first quarter.
Silky skilled Harley Montgomery and Hill
also slotted goals for Torrens Valley during
the quarter, along with Trevor Baust, Wills
and Aaron Luccon for Lobethal.
Torrens Valley led by one point at the first
The Tigers had plenty of the ball during
the second quarter but couldn’t kick goals,
whilst at the other end Torrens Valley made
the most of its opportunities.
Hill was dominant on the outerside wing,
Chad O’Sullivan was busy through the
middle and Tom Wachtel proved influential
in the ruck.
Three unanswered goals from Torrens
Valley appeared to provide breathing
space, however, two late goals from Chris
Papageorgiou and Fisher kept Lobethal in
The third quarter was a dominant period
for the Tigers as they kicked toward the
Onballers Matt Jenkin, Luke Nitschke
and Wills were getting good supply to
Fisher, who now had the better of Braedon
The half backline of Matt Brockhouse,
Mitchell Weeks and Steve Huxter
rebounded everything and the tall forwards
of Torrens Valley were well held by Daniel
Higgins, Aufderheide and Nathan Stanbury.
Lobethal opened the third term with three
goals inside the opening seven minutes
through Wills, Nitschke and Fisher.
Torrens Valley responded through D. Ellis,
Giadresco and Brad Hunter, however,
further majors from Fisher, T. Jenkin, Wills
and Bampton handed the Tigers a four-goal
lead at the final change.
Ben Hanna, Giadresco and Hunter were
doing their best to counter Lobethal’s on
ballers, whilst Hill and O’Sullivan got the
ball forward as often as possible.
Kicking seven goals to two during the third
term had put the Tigers in a good position
at the final break.
The closing quarter was an even affair,
however, goals to Johnny Boras and Luke
Ellis gave the visitors a chance when they
drew within two goals early in the final term.
Goals to Fisher, Nick Schild and Wills and
telling runs from T. Jenkin steadied the
ship and gave the home crowd something
to cheer about after watching a very good
game of football.
.... on the
ball with the
best in Hills
Live Saturday HFL broadcast
Bridgewater v Kersbrook from 2pm
Uraidla captain Paul Richards has chalked up
his 250th A-grade appearance for the club.
Mark Harrison (second from right) attempts to flee the clutches of
Mt Barker ruckman Matt Williams (right) during Ironbank’s Hills
Football League Division 1 A-grade victory last Saturday.
Image courtesy Andrew Ausserlechner.
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