FOLLOWING the hype of last year’s pre-season, Heathcote District Football League club Huntly is enjoying a sense of anonymity as it prepares for 2013.
No club created more hype during the pre-season last year than the Hawks, who landed a host of big-name players from major leagues in an effort to push up the ladder after 10-straight wooden spoons.
History shows the Hawks did succeed in getting off the bottom of the ladder and played finals, losing to North Bendigo in the elimination final.
But this year the hype around the Hawks is much more low key as they set about improving on their elimination final appearance of last season under second-year coach Stacy Fiske.
“We’ve been training for the past couple of weeks, and what has been a big focus is the fact all the hype has dropped off from this time last year,” Fiske said yesterday.
“We’re now just another team that is pushing for finals and wants to be successful.
“We’ve gone past the team that is known as the one that had 10 wooden spoons in a row and is trying to get off the bottom.
“The playing group is well aware that with that hype gone, the hard work starts now, so we have to make sure we put in the hard yards over the next five months so that we don’t go backwards or say in the same spot, but we move forward.
“In this league, you can see that all the teams are pushing each other and trying to go to the next level.
“So if we don’t go to that next level then we are going to drop back.”
Having secured close to 20 signings last year, the Hawks are being far more selective in their recruiting targets this year. At this stage the Hawks have just two confirmed recruits – midfielder Cory Lobb has joined the club from Sandhurst, while Josh Harris, the brother of Huntly’s Nathan Harris, has also joined.
“Over the past couple of months the focus has been on making sure that the boys we had last season are staying on next year,” Fiske said.
“We’re probably waiting on only three or four blokes to give a definite yes, but apart from that, most of the senior squad has recommitted for next season. We’re in a good position from that aspect, because I believe we have a good list, so having a year under our belt, the boys will only get better having got an understanding of how they play together.
“A lot of this year was learning about how we play together and what tweaks we need to make to the team, so now we can be a bit more selective and specific in the way we go about our recruiting.”
Huntly hosts Mount Pleasant in round one next season on April 13.