With pre-season approaching, the Guardian takes a look at what the Great Northern Football League’s bottom three clubs have been up to in the off season.
Looking to kickstart a resurgence, they’re making changes from coaches to players, and looking to their youth to lead the next charge for the flag.
Chapman Valley have proven to be an exception to the rule. President Grant Woodhams said they’re making “no secrets” of their recruiting success.
Starting in the coaching department, Paul Drennan has stepped aside, with club stalwart Aaron Thomas returning to take the reins of the league team.
“(Thomas) is a well-known character around the club, and around Chapman Valley,” Woodhams said.
Thomas has brought a few recruits with him through contacts in the eastern states. Chapman Valley has signed two players from a country league in Central Victoria, who will join a wave of returning players.
“We’ve got some guys coming back to line up for the Valley again this season. Blokes who moved away for whatever reason, and have since returned.
“We’re going to be stronger and deeper than last year.”
With two league players stepping up to coach the colts, the Royals are confident their youth can fill the gaps for a resurgent league side.
But Woodhams isn’t counting his chickens just yet.
“You have clubs that might say they’ve lost guys and they can’t replace them, but come first game they’ve got a potent line-up.”
The Towns roster is looking much the same as it was last year, with the off season failing to provide fresh faces.
Coach Dale Baynes remains in charge of the side and will continue his mission to build another golden generation.
With a colts grand final win last season, part of the foundation looks to be there already.
“We haven’t really signed anyone up yet, and haven’t really lost anyone either,” Baynes said.
“We’re trying to find some players, but we haven’t really been successful so far.”
“If we can’t, we’ll keep persisting with the kids and continue with the rebuild and develop through youth.”
He said the club could help out with employment for players keen to come to town and could offer remuneration for the right candidates.
“We have space in the salary cap,” he said.
“All of our players get paid depending on how many games they’ve played. It’s a set thing.”
“There’s plenty of room. No one’s getting paid over and above.”
“We’re looking forward to building on the colts premiership and hopefully some of that will start transferring into the league games.”
Wooden spooners Mullewa are looking to their youth to bolster the roster this year, as they continue to struggle finding recruits.
Club president Mick Wall is confident of a strong start, with two new coaches Patrick Walsh and Preston Wall sharing the role for the upcoming season.
“I know Preston will get them fit, and (Walsh) has been in touch with a few (Mount Magnet) boys. He’s got plenty of contacts,” Wall said.
Mullewa’s focus will be on fitness when pre-season training starts, an attribute Wall feels has dropped off in past seasons.
“Our training dropped away a bit in the last couple of years. We’ve just had no depth, so blokes know they don’t have to train to get games.”
While he wasn’t naming anyone at this stage, Wall said a few growth spurts among the younger players will see some new faces added to the league line-up, despite the lack of new recruits.
“A lot of blokes say they’ll come and play for us, then the clubs they’re at offer them more money, so they stay.”
“We’ve got no money, they play for love if they play for us.”