Navarre Football Netball Club was the last club in the region to find out their season had been called off with the Maryborough-Castlemaine District Football-Netball League added to the growing list of competitions cancelled in 2020.
The MCDFNL announced on Friday afternoon its decision to abandon all grades of football and netball this year, becoming the latest league to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The MCDFNL executive has spent considerable time in recent weeks consulting with member clubs and provided a range of options for conducting the various football and netball competitions within the league," the MCDFNL said in a statement.
"However, the position of the overwhelming majority of clubs over the past two weeks has moved to being uncomfortable with trying to undertake the season in the current COVID-19 environment.
"The MCDFNL executive members understand that there are going to be clubs who have worked hard to keep their club actively functioning over the past three months disappointed in this decision to abandon the season.
"Unfortunately, there was insufficient teams available in any age group to be able to proceed with a season."
It's a blow for Navarre with a strong under 11.5 football team who claimed the 2019 premiership.
MCDFNL president Stephen Broad - who has been involved with the league for 45 years - expects all 14 clubs to be back competing in 2021, but acknowledges the challenges for some clubs to get their junior players back after a season off.
"Everyone understands the difficulties because a lot of clubs were struggling to get the juniors up and going, which they are working hard on, so to put it off for 12 months means they've got to get their kids interested again," Broad said.
"That's not an easy task, especially when we've got some clubs in towns that basically have nothing in them and they have to bring in the majority of their juniors.
"By having to import juniors you can understand how it becomes difficult because there's not a continual flow.
"We're not sure that we'll have 14 clubs with all grades next year, but as far as 14 clubs involved, we were well positioned for that this year and I can't see why we wouldn't be again."
We're not sure that we'll have 14 clubs with all grades next year, but as far as 14 clubs involved, we were well positioned for that this year and I can't see why we wouldn't be againStephen Broad
While there will be no official competition this year, the league won't stand in the way of clubs looking at options for their juniors.
"If clubs want to organise individual scratch matches or something, that will be fine, but as far as a sanctioned competition, we're not doing that," Broad said.
"We've had a lot of interaction with clubs through this period in working out where they were at, but at the end of the day the general feeling was to go with the decision we've made.
"The clubs rule the league and the majority were against it going ahead."
The MCDFNL is a competition that features five grades of football: seniors; reserves; under-17.5; under-14.5; and under-11.5.
And seven grades of netball: A Grade; B Grade; C Grade; 17-Under; 15-Under; 13-Under; and 11-Under.
The league held its final decision off until after AFL Victoria's release of its Return-To-Play Protocols on Thursday morning.
MORE FOOTBALL NEWS:
"We waited for them and there were quite a few restrictions that were a bit difficult to achieve and would have been an onerous task for volunteers," Broad said.
"Groups of 10 separated by 1.5m throughout the day and not interacting was always going to be difficult... you almost need to have Police there keeping an eye on things, which isn't conducive to a friendly day at the footy."
Had the MCDFNL season gone ahead as originally scheduled the league would have been up to round 10 on Saturday.
The cancellation of the MCDFNL season adds to a spate of abandoned leagues in the region, with the Mininera and District Football League, Horsham and District Football League and Wimmera Leagues all announcing their decisions in recent weeks.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from the Stawell Times-News. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Northern Grampians shire, sign up here.