AFTEr seven years of mediocre results, Castlemaine coach Rod Keogh hopes to show up to 10 potential recruits that the Magpies are ready to take a stand in the Bendigo Football League in 2013.
The Magpies are finding recruiting tough going, with Keogh taking a patient approach to those considering joining the club.
“We’re optimistic that the guys we’re chasing will end up playing for us, but on the end of some fairly lean years, we’re left the door open for blokes to either commit or not based on how we’re shaping up,” Keogh said yesterday.
“We’ve got to show patience and be honest with how we go about it.
“Basically, every recruit that we hope to get is still swinging because we haven’t put any pressure on them... that’s the reality of where we’re at.
“We’re speaking to a lot of people at they moment, but they haven’t actually put pen to paper.
“We’ll either suffer the consequences for that, or it will work in our favour, but I don’t think you can give false promises to blokes on the back of some really lean years.”
And it has certainly been a lean period for Castlemaine.
The Magpies haven’t won a senior premiership since 2000 and last made the finals in 2005.
In the seven years since they were beaten by South Bendigo in the 2005 first semi-final, the Magpies have won just 29 of their past 124 games and have finished on the bottom of the ladder two of the past three years.
“I think there needs to be a notable shift in attitude right across the board, and that has been a big focus of ours... lifting the standards on the track,” Keogh said.
“Not only do we have to sell ourselves (to potential recruits), but they have got to be able to see it.
“Words can be spoken very easily and we’ve got to get right past that, so our foundation has to be honest right from the word go.”
One of Keogh’s key themes at Castlemaine during the pre-season is that the time for excuses are over.
“What seems to come with losing a lot is it’s very easy to make excuses, and I think that would almost be a trademark within the club,” Keogh said.
“Any new faces we get will give our players a spring in their step and also some genuine hope.
“Before that happens, though, the local blokes need to knuckle down, reassure each other they are fair dinkum and move on from pointing the finger or hiding under the blanket of a club that is doing poorly and take responsibility for their own efforts.
“That, along with our gameplan, has been our focus, and we’ve had some terrific sessions, but also sessions where we’ve been horribly let down by players not turning up.
“Overall, the vibe is positive, but you don’t earn your stripes after one training session, you earn them over a pre-season, and at the moment we’re still earning our stripes as far as I can see.”
While the Magpies are waiting on a number of signatures, they have picked up Chris McKnight (Harcourt) and Jordan Gilboy (Campbells Creek) from the Maryborough Castlemaine District Football League, while Keogh has been impressed with the pre-season training form of Lachlan and Rhys Ford, Rhys Jenkins, Sam Gale, Zac Plant and Ben Fritsch.
Meanwhile, departures from the Magpies include Brody Culpitt back to Western Australia, Alex Code and Harmit Singh.
The Magpies need more players for their under-18 side, which will be coached by Angus Fortune.