Demons de­fend ti­tle

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Footy Countdown - BY DEAN LAW­SON

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.”

Deek Roberts

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