Rats on hunt for regular success
Wimmera Football League club Ararat is on a mission – and 2018 might be the year the Rats start making their move.
Rats president David Jennings said a desire driving much of what was happening at Alexandra Oval was a need to ‘be successful more often’.
“We want to get to a position where we have a consistent formula where year-in, year-out Ararat senior teams play in the finals,” he said.
“That means making the most of cycles and seizing opportunities to be successful. Generate success and everyone tends to jump on board.”
For many years Ararat, as a major centre on the collision point for the Western District, Wimmera and Pyrenees, enjoyed a reputation as Wimmera league’s south-eastern powerhouse.
Regional football circumstances have naturally evolved over time and it is now two years in a row that Ararat has missed the finals.
But there is always a feeling that the Rats are the sleeping giants of the competition and all they need is the cards to fall their way.
Mr Jennings was on the money when he suggested that when Ararat was going well, the competition was also healthy.
Ararat, similar to Horsham, has traditionally been a team that everyone else in the league loves to loathe and that’s
the way the club wants it to stay. “The immediate plan for us is to get into finals contention and then, if we get there, to push deeper,” Mr Jennings said.
Ararat has experienced Shane Fisher in charge of the whiteboard as coach this year, with assistants Trent Fiscalini, back from coaching Robinvale last year, and Dan Mendes directing traffic on the ground.
Fisher echoed much of what Mr Jennings said while providing insight into how the Rats would take on the approaching season.
“We’re not going to make miracles happen overnight, but hopefully we’ll challenge for a spot in the finals this year,” he said.
“We’re on the right track. As a club we certainly believe we will be a lot more competitive side than last year and hopefully not have the costly lapses in games.
“We will play a different style this year and in being fitter will be trying to take more risks by running and attacking.
“Sometimes taking risks will lead to things coming unstuck, but in taking risks you also get rewards. We won’t be overly tall, but we’ll have enough to cover our bases.
“I think people have learnt a lot from what Richmond did in the AFL with a smaller group.
“This year we will have more flexibility through the midfield and at half forward and barring injury, instead of three or four players rotating, we might be able to have eight to 10.”
Ararat has been training since before Christmas to generate higher levels of fitness and has had a solid recruiting campaign, netting the likes of Fiscalini, Corey Taylor and Vermont’s Jarryd Smith.
The club has also lured talented Jake Williamson and Tyler Cronin from Tatyoon, Cronin set to provide a small-forward option.
Mr Jennings said the Ararat club was all about flying the flag for Ararat district.
“It is all about embracing the Ararat community,” he said.
“The players are proud to be representing a broad area and they want people to come and watch them.
“There is no doubt the more people we get at games they better the players will represent their city.”
Ararat is in a strong financial position, with Ararat RSL and WFI insurance leading a sponsorship group.