The AFL has today written to all VFLW clubs to advise the rebel VFLW Grand Final will not go ahead due to the current community lockdown within Victoria.
Geelong was due to face Collingwood in the season decider, but the ongoing COVID restrictions saw the Grand Final put on hold, with the clubs and AFL holding out hope it could be played in September.
The AFL has been in extensive discussions over recent weeks with the clubs who qualified for the Grand Final as a range of different outcomes were pursued over the last month in a bid to play the Grand Final. None were able to be achieved with the ongoing restrictions within the state since Geelong played its preliminary final on July 31. Collingwood has now not played since July 10 and has not been able to train for a large part of that time.
Both clubs have provided written submissions to confirm they cannot field a VFLW team, due to the lengthy break since their most recent respective game and the requirement to consider and begin preparations for the next AFLW season and allow a break for players who need post-season treatment.
There will be no premiership awarded for the 2021 season, but Collingwood will be recognised as the minor premier, having finished the home and away season atop the ladder, undefeated.
Cats VFLW captain Michelle Fedele said while the group was disappointed there would be no Grand Final, they understood the decision.
“In our very first game this season, ironically against Collingwood, I said how privileged we were to be able to play the game we love, through everything that happened in 2020 and the uncertainty heading into 2021," Fedele said.
"Nothing is different, except the fact that we were able to continue playing for the most part, and I'm entirely grateful for that.
"We've had the opportunity to bond together over wins and losses, strengthen through challenging times, and now we have the opportunity to use this disappointment to drive us for what we want next year.
"I'm so proud of the playing group, coaches, staff and supporters of what we've been able to achieve this year despite the end result.”
Coach Andrew Bruce echoed Fedele’s sentiments, highlighting the amazing bond between the entire VFLW group – players and staff alike – that had produced such a special season for the Cats.
“I’m really proud of the effort of the players, and super proud of being part of the support staff who went above and beyond throughout the season,” Bruce said.
“It was a super-strong bond throughout both players and staff. Most of us (staff) were new to the group, so we had to build that connection very early on, and we were able to do that.
“It was just a great bunch of people throughout involved. It was a great reward to get where we got to, and just very disappointing we didn’t get to finish it off.”
The Cats coach said the players and staff were grateful for the wonderful support of the Cats fans who had supported the team throughout the season.
“We really appreciated the people who came out to watch, whether it be family, friends or just football lovers,” he said.
“We really loved that involvement in that final we got to play at GMHBA Stadium. There was no doubt that the crowd had a really positive influence over the girls, which was just brilliant to see.
“I encourage everybody to stick with us, because I think at both VFLW and AFLW level, the Geelong Footy Club is on the right trajectory, and there will be some really good things coming.”
The Cats finished the VFLW season second on the ladder, with 10 wins and four losses.
The AFLW pre-season is due to start mid-October, with the 2022 season to begin in early January.