Footy, netball on Saturday

The long wait is nearly over. Castlemaine, Gisborne and Kyneton all have home matches on Saturday in the first round of Bendigo Football Netball League’s 2021 season.
The three clubs are hoping for a big turnout of supporters, who have been starved from seeing their favourites teams play since the 2019 season (apart from practise matches before the pandemic hit in 2020 and as a lead-up to this season).
There’s the usual pre-season optimism around. New players, old players, new coaches.
The message from the three district clubs is to come along to Camp Reserve (Castlemaine), Gardiner Reserve (Gisborne) and The Showgrounds (Kyneton) on Saturday.
In 2018 Castlemaine ended the season as the football wooden spooner, but this is a brand new season, with South Bendigo visiting Camp Reserve.
Kyneton hosts Golden Square, both with new coaches — the Tigers having enticed 280-game former AFL star Paul Chapman to be in charge of the First XVIII for the first time.
Gisborne footballers were beaten by four points in the 2019 preliminary final, and the club’s A-grade netballers missed out on a flag in a thrilling grand final.
The strong Bendigo-based clubs will be wary of what Gisborne has to offer in 2019.
Gisborne takes on Strathfieldsaye, undefeated champions in 2019.
Yet on Good Friday, in a lone early season match, Sandhurst beat Strathfieldsaye 11.12 (78) to 8.17 (65), casting doubts on whether the latter is as strong as in 2019.
The Castlemaine-Maryborough District Football League and the Riddell District Football League’s opening round is on Saturday, April 17.

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