Haisman Shield decider heading away from Deakin Reserve

By Tyler Maher

For the first time in more than a decade, the Haisman Shield grand final will move away from Deakin Reserve.

The last time the Goulburn Valley’s home of sport did not host Cricket Shepparton’s top tier decider was when Mooroopna Main Oval hosted the A-grade clash between Central Park-St Brendan’s and Old Students at the end of the 2007-08 season.

The association’s executive has chosen to move all grand finals away from Deakin though, with Mooroopna Recreation Reserve, Vibert Reserve and Princess Park named as the venues for the last weekend of the season — with Howley Oval on standby as the reserve venue.

‘‘We are off Deakin because of feedback from all sources on pitch and ground conditions and this season we have also tried to make it easier for people to see two games at the one venue, (for example) Mooroopna and Vibert,’’ Cricket Shepparton president David D’Elia said.

‘‘Everyone accepts Deakin is overused and needs a break, therefore we have tried to give it a week or two break.’’

A decision on which grade will be held where out of the five grounds on offer — Mooroopna Main Oval, John Gray Oval, Vibert one and two and John Riordan Oval — on March 23 and 24 will be made after the previous weekend’s preliminary final results are known.

‘‘The executive has got an early preference as to where it would like to hold the grand final,’’ director of senior cricket Michael Van Dorsser said.

‘‘However it is wanting to see what happens with the preliminary finals, so as to try and accommodate clubs that potentially could have more than one side in the grand final.

‘‘Say if Numurkah make the B and D-grade grand final it would be silly playing one at Vibert and one at John Gray Oval, we would like to be as accommodating as possible to clubs travelling together.’’

No matter where the Haisman Shield decider is held though it will not provide the competing teams with a home ground advantage as the Cats, Bloods and United are all out of the running for finals and Tatura remains only a mathematical chance to slide into sixth spot.

This will not be the case in the first two rounds of finals, with higher-ranked teams again given the opportunity to select where the knockout clashes will be held.

On the semi-final weekend, teams finishing first, second and third on the ladder in A-grade will choose the venue for the matches to be played in that order, followed by the same system in B, C, D and finally E-grade.

The top two ranked sides in the preliminary finals will also be able to snare the ground of their choice in the same cascading order of preference through the grades.

The association has also reminded clubs that cricket finals take preference over football practice matches, with requests set to be assessed once the final six is set across the grades.

‘‘We have had some football clubs coming to cricket clubs asking if they can use cricket venues for practice matches,’’ Van Dorsser said.

‘‘Cricket Shepparton won’t allow this until the end of cricket season, as it needs 15 turf venues for semi-final weekend and 10 for preliminary final weekend.

‘‘We are happy to consider it once finals have been organised, but need to see where they are at first.’’