The Kyneton Tigers are ready to roar again in the BFL
THERE'S always an air of excitement and anticipation within any football club entering the first game of a new season.
That's the case for 32 clubs across the Bendigo, Heathcote District, Loddon Valley, North Central and Maryborough-Castlemaine District leagues as they embark on their opening game of 2014 this weekend.
But there's one club, in particular, that round one means more for than simply the first game of the season.
For Kyneton, Saturday's BFL clash with Eaglehawk at the Kyneton Showgrounds signals the beginning of a new dawn for the Tigers following a year out of the senior competition last season.
The plight of Kyneton that led to last year's hiatus from the senior competition has been well documented.
The Tigers won their last senior flag in 1997, last played finals in 2003, and since that last finals appearance had won just 23 of 156 games and claimed three wooden-spoons before eventually, something had to give.
And what gave was the club's playing stocks severely dwindling after the 2012 season.
But 18 months on from the mass walkout that ultimately forced Kyneton to withdraw its senior team last year, the Tigers are back in the seniors under new coach Mark Adamson.
"There's a bit of a buzz and there has been for a couple of weeks," Adamson said this week.
"We've played two practice matches at home, which has generated a bit of interest and people are really happy around the place to see senior footy back in Kyneton."
They've had to be the right sort of guys willing to take on the challenge of building a senior team again
Adamson - who previously coached Golden Square to the 2009 BFL premiership and last season was on the Bendigo Gold's coaching panel - was appointed the Tigers' coach in July last year.
And since then Adamson has worked tirelessly in recruiting the new Kyneton senior team, with an almost 50-50 split of former players returning to the club, as well as brand new players to the Tigers.
Most of the first-time players at the club come from metropolitan football backgrounds and are invigorated by the challenge of helping transform the Tigers from perennial strugglers to a competitive BFL team.
"We started with a blueprint of what we'd look like as a side at our best opportunity and we've worked towards that," Adamson said.
"It has been challenging trying to find players of the quality that we needed to bring into the club. They've had to be the right sort of guys willing to take on the challenge of building a senior team again.
"We've also had to get a balanced mix in terms of an actual footy side and structure. We think we've done OK and that we have enough good players where we're going to be highly competitive and around the middle of the road.
"The challenge now for the playing group, myself and the other coaching staff is whether we can build that into something quickly and get the guys playing footy together, which will improve our performance over the year."