The Weekly Advertiser

2018 HDFNL COUNTDOWN: Edenhope-Apsley continues to ponder future

Jasper Gunn tackles Chris Oliver. Kalkee vs Edenhope-Apsley.

Chris Oliver.

A question mark hangs over Horsham District league club Edenhope-Apsley as teams prepare for the 2018 season.
Edenhope-Apsley has been public and open about merger talks with neighbouring Border Districts. But how will this influence what happens on the footy field this year?
There is a strong historical suggestion that clubs that have announced major change either rally strongly for an approaching season or struggle.
On this occasion there is a sense, considering the Saints’ forthright approach to the demographic pressures making life tough for the club, that they will continue to be highly competitive.
Edenhope-Apsley’s probe into the future comes across more as a proactive than desperate measure and the appointment of Chris Oliver as senior coach seems to have generated a positive vibe.
Club president Carolyn Middleton said the Saints, in awaiting results of an AFL Wimmera Mallee review due out in June, had committed to Horsham District ranks for 2018.
She said a vote from members later in the year would also ‘largely’ determine whether the club sought to merge with Border Districts and play in Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara league next year.
“Things have obviously been difficult, but we’re looking for club longevity and have been very open and honest with our members,” she said.
“We’ve been through the review process and hope this can give us some direction.
“Many are skeptical about reviews because they often come to nothing, don’t help or change anything. But we’re hopeful this one will be different. We just have to keep moving forward and make sure we can provide sport in our community.”
Ms Middleton said regardless of planning behind the scenes, the club was delighted by the positive feeling surrounding football and netball this season.
“There seems to be revitalised energy,” she said.
“Chris Oliver has his heart and soul in the job and has a great group of players who are really behind him. There is no doubt he has great rapport with the playing group.
“We also have more numbers on the training track than we had at this time last year.”
Ms Middleton said the simple club directive to footballers was to be as successful and competitive as possible, and importantly, for them to enjoy themselves.
“We want everyone to explore the opportunity to excel personally as well as a team and do their club proud,” she said.
Maintaining playing lists and recruiting appeared tough early for the Saints, especially with news that Jason Rae and John and Leslie Butler and former coach Michael Rowe would be among almost 10 departures from a senior list.
But Oliver said the club’s fortunes had changed dramatically, to a point where he was now very excited about what the line-up offered this year.
“We’re looking good actually. We have Damian Monaghan from Dartmoor, Jak Ryan returning from Mt Gambier and Chris Heath is coming across from Harrow-Balmoral,” he said.
“We had a good B Grade team last year and we have some good young blokes coming through.
“I’m actually pretty happy. We’ve had 30 or 40 different faces on the track and you never know, we might be a bit of a darkie.”
Oliver said he was keen for players, particularly youngsters, to explore their potential.
“I’ll be pushing the boys out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to learn a bit about themselves and what works for them,” he said.
Oliver said speculation about the club’s future had also seemed to provide a spur for many.
“It has made some of the younger blokes really step up and show a lot of belief and heart,” he said.
The Saints have started alternating training between Apsley and Edenhope.

2018 coaches:

Seniors: Chris Oliver
Reserves: Sam Whitehead
Under-17s: Josh Clissold
Under-14s: Robert Wall

The entire February 28, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Feb 28 2018

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