BENDIGO Gold coach Aussie Jones will encourage his team to play an exciting brand of football in what could be the club’s last-ever VFL match on Friday night.
The Bendigo Football Club’s 16-year playing history – spanning eras as the Diggers, Bombers and now Gold – is in danger of coming to an end against Geelong at the QEO from 6.30pm.
The Gold is facing financial challenges and is a “50-50” chance of surviving past this season, Jones said.
On-field, Bendigo will face arguably its most formidable opponent of 2013 in the final round match.
But Jones will keep giving his players the freedom to take the game on against the league-leading Cats (15-2).
“The scoreline will be what it will be, but we want to excite people,” Jones said.
“We want to run and link and have some bounces and play some really good footy.
“Obviously, the defensive part of the game is critical, but we’re not going to improve on that between now and bouncedown.”
Geelong will be brimming with AFL-calibre talent.
The Cats’ AFL coach Chris Scott said this week: “We’ve got eight or nine guys in the VFL at the moment that we’d be happy to play in our AFL team.”
Former Bendigo Pioneer Josh Hunt, Jesse Stringer, Trent West, George Horlin-Smith, Jackson Thurlow, Taylor Hunt and Billie Smedts have been named in Geelong’s side for tonight’s game. Cats captain Troy Selwood won’t return to his old stomping ground after he suffered a shoulder injury last weekend.
All but three of the Gold’s 22 players tonight have come to the club from the Bendigo region.
“At some stage every player will play on an AFL champion or a future star,” Jones said.
“When you eliminate win-loss, which is what we’ve done, this is what it’s about. There’s 19 kids from the region and they’re going to play against (Geelong’s stars).”
The Gold went down to Casey by 129 points last weekend after a sub-standard effort.
“We spoke about that in our team meeting that we’ve judged ourselves on that a lot this year – the effort,” Jones said.
“Last week was really poor, so it will simply be about that effort. We want people there up on their feet saying ‘geez, they were good those kids, I really enjoyed watching them play’.”