Packed crowd expected as Geraldton prepares for WAFL clash and the return of Josh Kennedy

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
West Perth Falcons and East Fremantle Sharks at Pentanet Stadium, Joondalup. Pictured is East Fremantle's Milan Murdock celebrating a goal
Camera IconWest Perth Falcons and East Fremantle Sharks at Pentanet Stadium, Joondalup. Pictured is East Fremantle's Milan Murdock celebrating a goal Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

Anticipation is building ahead of the WAFL returning to Geraldton as East Fremantle and Peel prepare to do battle in a key top-four clash for the two sides.

With seven rounds left in the season, both teams sit inside the top four and have won their past three games in a row with one of those streaks set to end on Sunday.

It’s a classic eight-point game and with the Sharks having a better percentage despite suffering one more loss than the Thunder it’s a huge opportunity to leapfrog them and push for a top-two finish.

But for Geraldton and the GNFL, it’s an opportunity to grab some exposure for the league and a chance for young stars to learn what’s required to reach the next level.

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Towns president Jeremy D’Mello said he was expecting a bumper crowd for the clash.

“At this stage, we’re estimating around a 1000 to 1200 people based on previous clashes we’ve held,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase or club and also promote our juniors, there’s been quite a lot of work between myself, Andrew Lockyer, Carissa and the GNFL as well as the City of Geraldton.

“On the footy side of things we’ve got a very young league squad that we’re looking to build up and the opportunity for those guys to play alongside JK and Mark LeCras and learn from the WAFL guys is just huge.”

GNFL president Carissa Bellottie said he was looking forward to the clash.

“A lot of time and hard work has gone into getting this game off the ground, thank you to everyone involved for your support,” she said.

“Having a WAFL game in Geraldton not only benefits the GNFL, it benefits all of our clubs, including the GNJFL and the wider community.”

Mayor Shane Van Styn said the Mid West had a proud history of producing quality talent with East Fremantle serving as a starting point.

“The Mid West has a proud history of producing some of the most talented AFL players to ever put on the boots, and the East Fremantle Sharks Football Club has often provided the launching pad for these athletes,” he said.

“We are beyond excited to welcome the Sharks to Geraldton where they no doubt will put on a fantastic performance for the community when they take on the Peel Thunder.”

It makes two years in a row the WAFL has visited the Mid West following last year’s Seroja Cup in Northampton success though D’Mello said making it a regular occurrence would require some upgrades.

“I’d most definitely love to see more WAFL games or AFL pre-season matches up here it’s good exposure for the competition,” he said.

“But to do it regularly we’d need to upgrade some of our facilities and not worry about bringing in external set-ups to bring us up to standard which would obviously need some government support to get done.”

The WAFL clash will get start from 2.10pm on Sunday, July 16.

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