KYNETON coach Brian Walsh has not given up hope of convincing many of the players who want to leave to stick with the Tigers next season.
The Tigers are facing a player crisis, with as many as 20 from this year’s senior list understood to have made their intentions clear that they want out of the Bendigo Football League club or will retire.
But with clearances not opening until February 1, Walsh will use the next month to work hard to try to change the minds of the players who want to go.
Despite the club staring at a severe player shortage at the moment, Tigers president Anthony O’Connor has dismissed any talk that the Tigers are on the verge of folding.
And Walsh, too, firmly believes that come round one on Good Friday, the Tigers will have enough players to take on Gisborne.
“There’s no doubt the club is in some trouble at the moment, but it’s going to survive,” Walsh said yesterday.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that at all, and I’m looking forward to January 15 when we come back to training to see how many do turn up, and how much it means to those around the place that the club is in a bit of trouble.
“It’s all very well to have the support of sponsors, which are important to any club, as well as supporters, but the main thing is you’ve got to have players, and a lot of players aren’t playing for a variety of reasons.
“The main reason that we can gather as a club and me being a new coach is the lack of success over the past nine years.
“So what is there to do... the club can fold, which it is not going to do, or we can work hard and keep fighting to get the players we want, which is what we’re going to do.
“We want to get some really good players in to give the younger guys a little bit of heart.”
Among the players who have told the club they are leaving are three of the Tigers’ best young players – this year’s best and fairest Shane Page, Rhys Ellis and Michael Clancy – who are seeking a move to Ballarat Football League club Darley.
“We haven’t given up hope of getting those three players back to the club,” Walsh said.
“No player can leave a club until February 1, so we’ll be working hard to keep those three.
“We’ll also be going after the peripheral players at other clubs to get our numbers up.
“Other clubs may think they have players, but they don’t have them until February 1, so we’ll be going all out to do what we can to get a few of them.”
While up to 20 players no longer want to play at Kyneton, Walsh said he had received no indication that this year’s co-coach and the club’s biggest name, Nathan Thompson, was one of them.
“I understand that Thommo will be playing with us, and he’s one of the main reasons why the club has survived over the past two years,” Walsh said.
Walsh has had a decorated BFL coaching career that began in the 1980s and includes winning three premierships at Golden Square.
But without doubt, rejuvenating Kyneton – a club that hasn’t played finals since 2003 or won a premiership since 1997 – is his greatest challenge.
“This is my biggest challenge, no doubt, but what I want to say to those players wanting to go is come back and make sure the club survives,” Walsh said.
“Me and the committee as a group, instead of giving promises, we’re going to deliver the club some players.”