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Department of Agriculture
and Water Resources
It’s Waikerie first,
BERRI Football Club’s struggles have
been magnified by the dominance of the
Waikerie Football Club.
The Magpies won last year’s grand
final by 42 points, and posted a record
238-point win over Berri on the weekend.
Waikerie’s official facebook page
trumpeted the Magpies’ ascendancy on
Saturday, highlighting that the club’s top
three grades had won by a combined mar-
gin of 495 points.
Boom 2017 Southern Football League
recruit Daniel Nobes kicked 11 goals
on the weekend, adding to the seven he
booted in round one, when the Magpies
thumped Barmera-Monash – considered
one of their main challengers this year –
by 51 points.
Waikerie last missed the top four in
1985, meaning 2017 will mark its 32nd
consecutive year of finals participation.
It has won two of the past three prem-
ierships, and played in the 2015 grand
Bolstered by the recruitment of former
club junior Jake Spencely, who joined
his brother and former Adelaide Crows
SANFL top-up player Matt Spencely at
Waikerie, the Magpies won the Australian
Champions League event during the 2017
RFL chairman Gary Pfeiler said the
club had come a long way since its days
as a competition battler, particularly
during the 1980s when it ‘won’ six
consecutive wooden spoons.
“Talking to a few players from back
in the dark days of Waikerie, they said ‘I
can remember Berri beating us by that
much’,” he said.
“So the wheel’s probably turned.”
Berri Football Club coach Terry
Eleftheriadis had no doubt his team had
encountered a powerful force on Saturday.
“Waikerie are an exceptional team,” he
“I mean, that full forward is a gun.
“They’ve got the leading goal kicker
from the SFL, the leading goal kicker
from the RFL (Matt Spencely), and the
other Spencely... and they haven’t really
had any losses.
“You can’t see anyone getting near
Waikerie’s winning margin on Saturday
was the biggest since the RFL moved to
its current six-team format in 1964.
It eclipsed Barmera-Monash’s 207-
point win over Waikerie in 1982.
The biggest win ever recorded at RFL
A grade level was in 1946, when Loxton
beat Moorook by 242 points.
Continued from page 1
After losing its opening game
to Loxton North by 96 points, on
Saturday Berri fielded just a hand-
ful of players from its 2016 RFL
finals team. A grade coach Terry
Eleftheriadis said a mass exodus
of players during the off-season –
for a variety of reasons – had left
club officials anticipating a difficult
“We identified early in the peri-
od that we were going to come
up with some pretty lean times
because we just don’t have the
footy players in our club – that’s
the reality,” he said.
“If you go back over the club’s
past eight or 10 years, you’ll see
that we’ve only been able to keep
two of the club’s last under 18 pre-
“Our reserves’ (results) speak for
themselves, so we don’t really have
“When you don’t have the depth
in the club, something’s going to
happen inevitably at some point –
and it’s happened now.”
Mr Pfeiler said Berri was going
through a similar experience to
Loxton’s 2016 season, when the
Tigers finished on the bottom of
the A grade ladder and often bat-
tled to be competitive across all
“As a league we have to give
support to Berri to turn this
around,” he said.
“It does (worry) me because it’s
the same as last year with Loxton.
The whole club was getting beaten
by over 500 points.
“But I understand Loxton are
working very hard to create a cul-
ture in their club whereby players
are going to want to stay within
Mr Pfeiler noted that Berri’s
under 13 and under 15 teams both
won on Saturday, describing it as
“a bright spot” for the club.
Despite the massive loss to
reigning premier Waikerie –
regarded as the hottest early-sea-
son RFL flag favourite in years
Eleftheriadis said Berri would
focus on improving during the
“Hopefully as the year progress-
es we’ll get a bit better at what
we’re trying to do and maybe push
a few sides and win a few games,”
“But at the moment we’re defi-
nitely a long way back.”
Berri won the under 15 grand
final last year, and made the under
13 grand final. Saturday’s A grade
team against Waikerie contained
eight under 18 players, including
one under 15 player.
Eleftheriadis said the club could
ultimately benefit by exposing its
juniors to senior football early in
their playing careers.
“The upside of it all is that if we
manage to hold on to these kids
who are playing at the moment... at
some point over the next few years
the club will be hopefully bouncing
back,” he said.
“We’re trying to pick the best of
the 18s to top up the A grade, but
I’m letting them play in their grade
too, because I want them to enjoy
“We’re trying to keep them
happy, and trying to put a competi-
tive A grade team on the park.”
Mr Pfeiler said Waikerie was a
good example of a country football
club operating well.
“I take my hat off to Waikerie,”
“Other than this Daniel Nobes,
every player that’s playing for
Waikerie at the moment has some
tie to Waikerie.
“Two years ago Waikerie
said, ‘We can’t continue to have
contract players. Are we better
trying to maintain the locally based
DEMON DAYS: Record 238-point loss puts focus on football club
WINNING: Waikerie Football Club took
to social media to celebrate its success
across all grades on Saturday. The club
last missed the A grade finals in 1985.
BERRI Football Club’s
inability to replace its lengthy
list of departed players
during the off-season has
again drawn attention to the
contentious Approved Player
Points System (APPS).
The APPS effectively
limits the number of ‘new’
players a club can introduce
to its A grade team over a
certain number of seasons.
Berri has lost at least a
dozen A grade players from
last year, but under the sys-
tem is unable to replace all of
them from outside the club.
In the RFL, the 21 players
selected in A grade on a
Saturday cannot exceed
15 points. These points
are allocated to recruits
depending on their previous
playing level and length of
service to their local club.
Remarkably, reigning RFL
premiers Waikerie had just a
handful of points during their
238-point thrashing of Berri
The River Murray Football
League currently operates
under an APPS handicap
system, whereby the higher
performing teams are
allocated less points than the
teams nearer the bottom of
However, RFL chair-
man Gary Pfeiler said all
Riverland clubs had backed
the APPS in its current form.
“Probably two years ago,
we met with the (club) presi-
dents and they all were unani-
mous with their desire that
all Riverland clubs be treated
equally,” he said.
“At that stage, some of the
lesser clubs that were strug-
gling to win games, said, ‘We
don’t want any extra favourit-
“I had a phone call (about
it) from SA Community
Football League (SACFL),
asking why the RFL hasn’t
got that sliding points scale.
“I explained to them that
last year Waikerie went pre-
miers, and I said if you look
at the points system Waikerie
were only using four points
“And (the SACFL) said
that blows the theory out of
Berri Football Club
A grade coach Terry
Eleftheriadis said he had no
gripe with the points system,
but that it made life difficult
for clubs with major playing
“We have 15 points in a
system to work with,” he said.
“If you lose a dozen players,
you replace them with five.”
System at breaking point?
Waikerie’s Ryan Shaw is tackled by a Berri opponent on Saturday. PHOTO: facebook
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