Demons defend title
The loss of more than half a dozen senior premiership players over a summer often spells disaster for a football club.
That is of course unless you are Horsham in Wimmera Football League.
The Demons have farewelled a bevy of talent from the group that upset Minyip-murtoa in a grand final at Dimboola last year. But long-time Wimmera footy fans have hardly batted an eyelid. Why?
It might have something to do with the fact that during Horsham’s domination of the first decade of the 2000s it lost an average of more than seven premiership players every year.
The roll-out of players was always offset by a roll-in of newcomers or youngsters and seemed to have little impact on the powerhouse club’s ability to win flag after flag.
Horsham coach Deek Roberts admitted that losing significant players early in the pre-season had sparked a moment of concern. But his confidence, if dented at all, had blossomed in the past month.
“I went through a stage early on when I was bothered by it a bit, but after trials and practice matches we’re all feeling pretty good about how things are travelling,” he said.
Players on the departure list are significant and include the likes of Toohey Medallist Billy Lloyd, Port Melbourne, Joel Geue and Jack Mentha, AFL Barwon,
Jeremy Hartigan, Murray league, Luke Carr, retired, Tyler Blake, AFL Sydney, and Simon Hobbs, Horsham District league.
Veteran utility Tim Wade is also on a long-term injured list.
Players coming in this year include experienced key-position player Jordyn Burke, returning from Ballarat league, and Brodie Mines and Dylan Bushby, Pimpinio.
Roberts continues to have at his disposal obvious team-leaders and assistant coaches John Wood and Rhona Conboy, Brad Hartigan and Josh Mibus and others such as Ben Lakin, Darcy Taylor and Alex Harfield who are primed to climb another level at Horsham City Oval.
“It’s all going really well. In the past month we’ve started playing how I want us to and I’m confident we’re on the right track,” Roberts said.
“We also have good players pushing through from the juniors, most of them quick and all offering something different, and other 50-game-type players who will start attracting greater attention than in the past.
“We might tread a finer line this year with injuries if we get them, but I’m generally happy with how we’re tracking.”
Roberts, who took over the coaching reins from Louie Dalziel, said a changing list and circumstances would lead to different structures and set-ups across the ground.
“The idea is to make sure everyone through the club knows how we want them to play. It won’t be rocket science but the idea is to add a few more pieces to the equation,” he said
“We’re going to continue to try to play a quick style of football but have the knowledge that we have height down the lines if we need it.
“Most football these days revolves around pressure and that’s where we’ll start.
“The short-term goal is to win round one and from then work on getting extra percentages from players and seeing that happen on the training track.
“Hopefully we will continue to play what we’ve been practising and if we get that right we will definitely play finals.”
Horsham club chairman Geoff Lord said the club was well prepared for the onset of a season.
“The place is humming. We have such a great structure in place, established over the past decade and a half, which stands the club in good stead,” he said.
“I think everyone is simply getting itchy to start playing.”