COVID won’t impact crowd - Bright

Back at Tigerland: Shaun Atley will play with brothers Joe and Jacob this weekend against Echuca, at Moon Oval. Photo Bruce Povey. Photo by 2022

For the first time in two seasons, COVID-19 will have a very limited role in the Rochester Football Club’s blockbuster match against Echuca, at Moon Oval, on Saturday.

The clubs met only once last season, in round four, when several conditions were applied to attendance at the game. Echuca won the match by 21 points.

Rochester Football Club president Jeff Bright said while there were crowds at last year’s game, he was expecting a “bumper’’ crowd for the opening round of the season.

“If the weather is fine, because both teams are finals contenders, I am expecting a big number,” he said.

“Apart from some double vaccination requirements, and reminding people of social distancing, there is not a lot required of the club.”

The match will be the first time sets of brothers from both Rochester and Echuca play at senior level together.

For Rochester the three Atley brothers — 29-year-old 200-game former North Melbourne AFL star Shaun, and younger brothers Joe and Jacob — will play together.

Echuca’s gun recruit, former GWS Giant Sam Reid, will play with his brother Ben — also for the first time at senior level.

Mr Bright said he hoped the attendance would be in the vicinity of a $5000 gate, an indication of the interest in the match between the two communities.

"Echuca and Rochester matches have always captured the attention of the region. We used to play for the George Ogilvie Trophy,“ he said.

The trophy has been not been contested for several seasons, but was named in honour of the World War I veteran who played with Richmond in the VFL and Port Melbourne in the VFA.

He played with both Echuca and Rochester in the 1930s and is a member of the Bendigo Football League Hall of Fame. He served with the AIF in 1915-16, in Egypt.

Ogilvie was sensationally disqualified from playing in the 1920 grand final for Richmond, its first flag-winning team, due to being from Yarraville and therefore in Essendon’s recruiting zone.

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