REBUILDING football clubs tend to take slow but steady steps, putting faith in a long-term plan usually to develop young players.
Incoming coach Marc Carson hopes his Western Eagles side can take a few more of those steps when the 2012 Colac District Football League season gets underway.
Carson has taken the reins of a side which is still a work in progress but, courtesy of natural improvement and canny recruiting, has the potential to make headway this year.
Even the most passionate Eagles fan has to admit it’s been a lean few years for the merged entity at Irrewillipe, but optimism has grown in the past two years.
A win against Apollo Bay last season ended a 26-game losing streak and much-hyped signings for 2012 suggest more wins are on the cards.
Sam McGuane has crossed from Colac Tigers to become assistant coach and there are good raps on St Josephs ball-winner Andrew Hodgson and former SANFL forward Jake Reed.
Peter Morris, formerly of Colac Imperials, will take the ruck duties in his return to football.
There are departures – Sebastian Digirolamo, John Tate and Joel Theodore, among others – but on paper the inclusions have the side primed to rise up the ladder.
Carson is under no illusions the Eagles are coming from a long way back.
He hasn’t placed any win-loss expectations on his side, with “respect” and “competitiveness” the buzz words pre-season.
“When you’ve won one game in two years, from a recruiting aspect it’s not the easiest job in the world, but we feel we’re moving in the right direction,” Carson said.
“Our goal for the year is to at least be competitive in all games. What we’ve seen in pre-season so far we’ve done that,” he said.
“If we play the way we have pre-season, we’ll win some games of footy.
“How many is not overly important. From a club perspective we’re looking to gain some respect back.
“If we can do that we’re moving in the right direction.”
Carson has high hopes for the Eagles’ recruits, most of who he plays cricket with at Geelong.
His main focus, recruiting-wise, has been to add strength and experience to a young list light-on for size.
“We’ve got a really tough run and we’ll find out pretty quickly where we’re at,” Carson said.
“After the first two we’ve got a handful of winnable games leading up to our second bye,” he said.
Departures mean netballers have work to doby Lachlan Cowlishaw
THE departure of attacking netball players has left Western Eagles with rebuilding work to do this season.
Eagles goaler Eve Ellemor heads a list of outs that also includes defender Kirsty Smallman and young-gun Maddy Bartlett.
Ellemor and former coach Jenny Fish provided a focal point in the Eagles’ goal circle last season but the team will need to find a new attacking combination in 2012.
Former Otway Districts defender Caroline Sexton has crossed to Irrewillipe Recreation Reserve and will help Kessima Duynhoven strengthen the Eagles’ defensive third.
Western Eagles coach Karen Slater, in her second year as A Grade coach, said officials had decided on a settled line-up after trialling an A and B squad last year.
“It’s a bit more established and there’s a bit more structure at this point this year,” she said.
“It probably put some of the girls off having it that way so we announced a fortnight ago and said ‘right that’s the A and that’s the B’.”
Slater said the Eagles would boast a new-look line-up in their round-one clash against South Colac tomorrow.
“There has been a bit of a turnover of personnel and we will definitely miss the likes of Eve,” she said.
“We need to build a new attacking end basically because of the players we have lost and we probably need to be more accurate this year.
“We’ve got some good options in defence and we have some good height down there that will set it up to get the ball down to the goalers.”
The Eagles also welcomed Leopold defender Lauren Moore into their squad and Ebony Reid made the jump from B Grade.