Toc is returning to the PDFL
By Liam Nash
Tocumwal Football Netball Club will not return to the Murray Football Netball League in 2024.
The club confirmed on Tuesday that it had decided to head back to the Picola District Football Netball League after one season in the Murray league.
A statement, issued by the Picola league on Monday evening, broke the news that the Bloods would return to the competition.
“The Picola District Football Netball League is pleased to announce that Tocumwal Football Netball Club has returned to the PDFNL,” the statement read.
“Toc is looking to improve communication and relationships with the PDFNL board, PDFNL clubs and more broadly all PDFNL members.
“TFNC’s new committee has identified and expressed these as known key and critical elements the club must improve to obtain stability, success and sustainability.”
The statement went on to detail Tocumwal’s resettlement back into the league, indicating the club will return as though it had finished as the middle-placed eighth of 15 teams in 2023 on 43 points.
It also alluded that this would not impact any other club’s player points allowance for season 2024.
The PDFNL 2024 season will feature 16 games, complete with a top-eight finals series, to be held over five weeks.
“As you would have seen, Tocumwal has returned to the Picola league,” league operations manager Shane Railton said last week.
“The Picola league is happy to have Toc back... it helps give the whole competition stability moving forward. I’ve already had three or four people today give me a call to say how pleased they are to see Toc return.”
Railton highlighted that the Bloods’ new executive committee had identified areas of improvement and applauded the way the club had co-operated with the league in recent weeks.
“The club has done a big review, they have a new executive and the club has identified that it cannot make similar mistakes to previous years,” he said.
“Each individual member club met with Toc and it was approved last night that Toc could return to the league. Some clubs had greater reservations than others, they had reservations based on the Toc we’ve seen in 2022 and in previous years.
“Toc are well aware of that (reservations) and the club accepts and understands that and they’ve put things in place to move forward.
“In hindsight, I know I let things just tick along in 2022 and in hindsight, I probably should have addressed a few things earlier, rather than let it get to where it did.”
MFNL general manager Dale Norman offered words of sympathy for Tocumwal, while also understanding the decision for practicality reasons.
“We’re absolutely gutted for the club. It’s not their fault, they had to do what’s right for their club,” Norman said.
“The club needed to find a level where they can compete and be able to foster growth and their development.
“Their stay in the Murray Football Netball League would not be sustainable for the club, and to have a club which is not competitive also compromises the competition.
“We will revert back to a 12-club competition for 2024.”
Norman also divulged the MFNL’s intention to “find a home” for a spread of clubs across the region through its proposal of a Murray District League, a second competition under the league banner which was officially vetoed last month by the AFL Goulburn Murray commission.
“The predicament that Tocumwal find themselves in is due to the lack of action by AFL Goulburn Murray commission,” he said.
“It was only a week ago when AFL Victoria community football manager
John O’Donoghue came out and, I quote, said ‘we’re also encouraging bottom-up approaches where clubs and league drive agendas around reform to leagues’.
“That is exactly what we tried to find, we tried to find that solution.
“And despite many requests, not once was the Murray Football Netball League and the clubs involved in exploring a new option, given the chance to meet face to face with the AFL Goulburn Murray commission.
“The Zoom meeting we did have with the commission, we were astounded by the lack of knowledge of the commission members and the awareness of what was happening north of Shepparton.
“In the end, the AFL commission decided to do nothing and to do nothing is not a solution.“