THE 2016 footy season is less than two months away and for Heathcote, the only way is up.
The Saints have recruited several experienced players in a bid to make last year’s wooden spoon performance a dim memory.
Among them is former Elmore player and 2006 HDFL Cheatley Medal winner David Fevalaki.
He will be joined by Kyle Gillingham from Wandella, Jackson Bailey from Marcellin College, Joel Osborne from Kangaroo Flat, and Ricky Stephens and Mitch Johnson — both from Diamond Creek.
Seniors coach Paul Kennedy said there were likely to be another three new players.
‘‘But I don’t want to give any details until they’ve signed,’’ he said.
Kennedy said the club had deliberately sought senior players.
‘‘We had a very young side last year and we’ve deliberately gone out and recruited some senior age players and guys that have played a fair bit of senior football,’’ he said.
‘‘When you’re trying to introduce a game plan like we tried to do last year, it was very hard because of the (players’) age.’’
Kennedy said the older players would bring a range of benefits to the club.
‘‘They’ll understand what we’re trying to do a lot better and I think we’ll be a reasonable outfit.
‘‘We want them to be leaders and help mentor some of these young guys.
‘‘And these young guys will now get opportunities to play in positions where they probably should have been playing in, instead of positions where they were completely out of their depth.’’
Kennedy is keen to see an improvement in Heathcote’s fortunes on the field but was careful not to overplay expectations about the new team members.
‘‘I know a couple of the guys from Melbourne, but I don’t know much about the guys from Bendigo,’’ he said.
‘‘All I know is we’ve recruited senior players, and I don’t want to put any pressure on anybody to be a standout.
‘‘So we’ll just wait and see how they all go.’’
But he stressed the club still had high hopes for the season.
‘‘Our plan, like all the other sides, is to play finals footy.
‘‘There’s no question about that . . . finals is the aim.
‘‘We’ve got a very tough draw — Elmore is first up and they’re predicted to play finals, North Bendigo, the premiership side, second round and Colbinabbin third round.
‘‘So we’ll certainly know where we’re at after about round three.’’
New Saint Ricky Stephens with seniors’ coach Paul Kennedy.