FRANKSTON Dolphins will return to the VFL competition next season after having their licence application approved by AFL Victoria.
The Dolphins were stripped of their licence in 2016 after the club fell into voluntary administration under a massive debt of more than $1 million.
The club has been fighting hard since that day to bring together key people and businesses to put together a strong case to re-enter the competition. Their application was submitted last month and granted on Friday afternoon.
The application was spearheaded by former Hawthorn champion and recruiter Gary Buckenara.
The pitch to re-enter included 1200 memberships, all sold for $50. The application was also based on the fact that the club would form ‘closer relationships with football clubs across the peninsula’.
The truth of the matter is that the Dolphins will only avoid going back to where it came if they fully embrace the MPNFL competition.
The MPNFL desperately needs and deserves to have its own VFL side. There are at least 15 players currently playing in the MPNFL who are playing VFL footy right now. The likes of Anthony Bruhn, Tom Baker, Anthony Barry, Sam Fowler, Lachy Wallace, Danny Allsop, BJ Credlin, Mitch LaFontaine and James Freeman are all VFL-listed players at the likes of Bulldogs, Casey, Collingwood, Richmond and Northern Blues.
It makes sense for them to be representing their own VFL team locally.
The Stingrays who are not drafted also need a pathway to keep their AFL dream alive.
Let’s just hope the club has spent as much time understanding why it got itself into a $1M hole in the first place as it did working on a submission to re-enter – no local club support, no membership, no spectators, no success.
The Dolphins need to be a representative of the MPNFL, not an elitest group that works against and alienates local clubs – that’s the previous history of the Frankston Dolphins.
It’s time to wipe the slate clean.
It should change its name to Peninsula Dolphins, a true reflection of the area it represents.
The lack of a VFL Development League next season will support the case to bring the Dolphins and local clubs together. A squad of 35-40 should be selected at the beginning of the year, 22 are then selected each week to represent the Dolphins and the remaining 13-18 go back to their home club every weekend.
All of the clubs would support that and more importantly, the people they want to come through the gate to support the Dolphins.