Originally written by CODY WINNELL
THE Branxholme-Wallacedale Football Netball Club has moved quickly to secure the services of senior coach Kim McElhinney for 2007.
The Saints have signed McElhinney, who has led Branxholme-Wallacedale from bottom to fourth of the South West District Football League senior ladder within his first 12 months at the helm. With two home and away rounds to play, the Saints are currently fourth on the ladder, easily holding the third-best percentage in the league. Branxholme-Wallacedale president, Wayne Yole, said the main reason for signing McElhinney at this early stage was that the club was future-bound. “That’s where we’re looking,” Yole said. “Simply put, we didn’t expect miracles when we first signed Kim. We just wanted to make finals, we’ve done that, we’re happy at this stage. “This is the first step. We’re aware of certain holes and we will work to fill them next year.” Yole said McElhinney knew where the Saints were heading, after all, the coach has steered the ship this year. McElhinney was rapt to be shored up for next year. “It’s fantastic. I’m very happy at Branxholme-Wallacedale and happy to be given another opportunity.” McElhinney admitted that when he first took over the reins as leader at the Saints, he understood just how far they were behind the eight ball. This season he said they will finish fourth and he’s happy with that. “Obviously we all knew how big a task we had in front of us from the beginning. “We’re happy to be fourth. “We’ve have had some injuries in the last five weeks which have hurt us a fair bit. “(And) obviously the loss to Cavendish was disappointing and cost us. “But it’s a two-year plan and we’re heading in the right direction.” Some of Branxholme- Wallacedale’s standouts this year are likely to be strongly sought after by other clubs next year. For example Tim Covey has been linked to Hamilton, while others are likely to be propositioned before season 2007 begins. McElhinney is fully aware of this. “Covey’s a very season by season type of player but I’ve had a chat with him and he’s happy at Branxholme-Wallacedale at the moment. “Of the other guys, they’re 100 per cent committed to Branxholme-Wallacedale for next season. “It’s going to be an exciting season. I’ve already spoken with a number of new recruits who are happy to sign on. “We’ll get them aboard before Christmas and really build momentum going into the new year.” Aside from McElhinney himself, some of the key players for the Saints in 2006 have included recruits Covey, Rory Neeson and Matt Ross, while Andrew Walkenhorst, Craig Piper and the currently injured Stevie Millard have also been excellent. “Those guys have been fantastic. “Losing Millard to injury has been disappointing. “Rory and Craig have been great, Matty Ross too, he’s had an excellent season. “Andrew Walkenhorst has been brilliant. We’ve had some very good performers and they’d be looking forward to big 2007s.” Yole said Covey had played a key leadership role in 2006 with Branxholme- Wallacedale’s younger players and he looked forward to having him back on-side for an even stronger role in 2007.