Originally written by PHIL HOLMES
TWO years ago the Mininera and District Football League was being touted as one of the most uneven competitions in Victoria.
How things change.
After copping beltings for the past two seasons teams like Caramut, Moyston-Willaura and Hawkesdale-Macarthur currently sit second, third and fourth respectively on the Mininera ladder.
Why the sudden change?
Have the Mininera executives installed a plan to improve the competitiveness of the matches?
Or have the clubs just worked much harder to rise of the bottom rung of the well-spread league?
Woorndoo-Mortlake still looks in dire straits with a winless record to date, but proof there’s a light at the end of the tunnel can be found what other clubs have been able to achieve in such a small amount of time.
In 2005 Caramut finished ninth on the ladder after 18 rounds with just three wins for the season and with its current position of second with 4-1, things are definitely on the up for the tiny town.
Caramut president Andrew Calvert said the club has done a lot of work to get where it is now, but he wanted to remind the club’s youngsters there’s still a long way to go yet.
“I was chatting with Todd O’Sullivan (senior coach) just the other day about how well things are going and we both agreed that it’s a pleasant surprise.
“We have gradually been building the list just like Moyston-Willaura has and it proves that bringing in quantity and not so much quality can be the difference.
“We haven’t gone about picking up stars, just players that can hold their own now we have players that were struggling in the twos a couple of years ago, to now being very good senior players,” Mr Calvert said.
He is also impressed with Moyston-Willaura’s early form.
“Moyston-Willaura have gone about it very similar to Caramut in that they seemed to have picked up a lot of handy footballers without being stars. It can add to the long jeopardy of the club,” Mr Calvert said.
“We’ve got blokes travelling back and some kids like Ben Makepeace, Nathan Reeves and Adam Dickson who are really impressing too.
“That can make a huge difference.”
In 2005 there was an article in The Spectator stating that the Pumas were on the brink of extinction. The club has managed to see out those tough times, however, and is now on the up big time.
Three wins in five games, is a more than impressive start considering the club had just one victory in the past two seasons.
Hawkesdale-Macarthur is another that has been through its fair share of hard times, winning just nine games in 2005 and 2006 combined.
Scott Ogle, who coached the Eagles in 2005 and publicly declared how tough it was for the clubs at the lower end of the scale at that time, says the league’s heading in the right direction now.
“Pretty much you had your Tatyoons, Wicky-Lake Bolacs and Lismore-Derrinallums leading the way, the rest, you could’ve just thrown a blanket over.
“It was tough times for club’s like Hawkesdale-Macarthur, who quite simply just didn’t have the quality of players or money to compete with sides like that.
“I’ve noticed things have been a lot different this year, which is just fantastic for the league and teams like Hawkesdale and Caramut.
“The tables have turned and it’s great to see,” Ogle said.
Tatyoon still seems the team to beat but as the lower sides make their way up the ladder the pressure will be there for the Hawks to perform week in, week out.
If Tatyoon gives one of these emerging sides a sniff, confidence can take you a long way and once it’s instilled upon the playing groups, it will be on for young and old.