Big year ahead for new-look league
Enormous expectation surrounds a new-look Horsham District football league as teams prepare to lock horns for openinground competition this weekend.
The league has undergone a transformation with the shift of reigning premiers Southern Mallee Giants to Wimmera league and club leaders expect a significant rise in competitiveness to quickly emerge.
There was a broad sense that a chasm between the Giants and the rest of the field, apart from Harrow-balmoral, was only going to get wider and most teams have welcomed the move.
But predictions of a contraction in the competition, where most teams have a fighting chance each week, remains to be seen and fans will get their first glimpse this Saturday of what lays ahead.
It is obviously hard to pinpoint a match of the round with excitement and confidence high in a variety of camps. One game that does seem to stand out is a season opener between Kalkee and Laharum at Kalkee.
The Kees have generated plenty of discussion during the pre-season with new joint coach Stuart Farr promising the club under direction from himself and Hamish Exell will play an ‘exciting and fast’ brand of football.
The Kees have at least 10 new or returning players, which is also significant, and among the incoming group are prominent on-field standard-setters Simon Hobbs and Lachie Exell.
Laharum might also have a new look with its own list of newcomers under sole coach Robbie Miller, already match fit after a stint in Darwin football. Cam Streeter, Heath Macinnes, Liam Nuske and James Milich join the group and all eyes will be on Northern Territory recruits Daly Banks, Jack Nicolson and James Arratta.
Other games will generate as much interest, none more so than a contest between Natimuk United and arch rival Noradjuha-quantong at Natimuk.
Natimuk United has had a sniff of finals action and has a list this year that includes Garry Hallam as assistant under Sam Anson and others such as Jayden Styles and Jack Ford.
Noradjuha-quantong goes into the season maintaining its mystery-and-potential status with new coach Gareth Hose in charge of an ever-emerging young crop of players.
Expectations are also high at Rupanyup, which will travel to play Edenhope-apsley at Edenhope.
Rupanyup has also picked up quality players from Darwin who will gather under young coach Jack Musgrove.
Denny Musgrove, Zac Robinson and Chris Parris will join Hugh Mcmurtrie in the Panthers colours, alongside Matt Tyler, and the camp is excited with what the season holds.
Meanwhile, Chris Oliver has the job of marshaling the Saints troops and to counter a string of departures has the likes of Damian Monaghan, Jak Ryan and Chris Heath to help redevelop his group.
Self-confessed football project Taylors Lake will gain early insight if the work going into rebuilding the team will have long-term dividends when it plays Jeparit-rainbow.
Jye Smith is back leading the Lakers and this year has had time to work with a relatively settled group.
ACROSS THE LEAGUES
Tim Inkster is leading Jeparit-rainbow, which has had a productive recruiting drive, picking up a string of players from South Australia.
Kurt Waterman, Brad Hunter and Tom Eichner join new assistant coach Daniel Batson and Wayne Batson.
Last year’s runner-up Harrow-balmoral will open its season with a contest against Pimpinio at Balmoral.
If the Southern Roos follow coach Nick Pekin’s direction they will play no-nonsense football and more than compensate for a string of player departures.
Ruckman Todd Lawrence is among newcomers to join an already tall list.
Pimpinio has experienced Nathan Sachse at the helm and if the Tigers were looking to gauge where they needed to improve this year then they will find out first game.
Pimpinio has plenty of ground to make up to be successful but the club has plenty of spirit and needs circumstance to fall its way to turn traction into momentum.