The Geelong Football League Grand Final is on the move with West Oval hosting this year’s decider for the first time in more than two decades.
Home to the Geelong West Giants, the club opened its brand-new $11 million pavilion back in May. Part-funded by the Victorian Government, the extensive building is poised to see West Oval become the state’s regional football hub, capable of hosting high-level competition.
Giants chairperson Sarah Naylor said the club “couldn’t be happier” with the opportunity to host this year’s grand final.
“When we got the go ahead, we were very excited. We’re absolutely thrilled,” Naylor said.
“We were really keen to get a couple of finals anyway. We just put our hand up for whatever we could get pretty much.”
Kardinia Park has hosted every GFL Grand Final since 1999, however the last stage of the stadium’s redevelopment has forced AFL Barwon to relocate its biggest game of the year. A lack of available change rooms during the final redevelopment – commencing in September – was the deciding factor for the move.
West Oval has six players’ change rooms at its disposal, including two additional umpires’ rooms, making it the ideal venue to host the under 19s, reserves and senior competition grand finals.
“It’s great for, I guess, the situation we’re in at the moment with COVID that you can have three games there or six different teams, and none of them have to share a change room,” Naylor said.
West Oval has a long history with football in the Geelong region being home to the former Geelong West Roosters who competed in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) before joining the GFL in 1989. The ground was known for hosting big crowds during this era.
“I’m looking forward to (seeing) some of the old guys at the club, they tell us about the days back in VFA,” Naylor said.
“Even back in the late 90s when the finals were held there and they just say that there was thousands of spectators there. I haven’t seen that at West since I’ve been there at all, and I think I’ve been there about 12 years now.
“So, yeah, to be able to see that, it’ll be pretty special.”