SOUTH Bendigo will be spurred on by the motivation of avoiding the club's first Bendigo Football League wooden spoon in almost 50 years when it hosts Castlemaine at the Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday.
With the Bloods and Magpies both on two wins apiece entering round 17, the loser of this match is likely to finish on the bottom of the ladder.
While Castlemaine has claimed two of the past four wooden spoons, South Bendigo hasn't finished on the bottom of the ladder since 1965 when it won three games under Maurie Collins.
"It's a fantastic effort by the club to have maintained a level of competitiveness of being in the finals or just missing out on finals and never having been right down for so long," Bloods co-coach Peter Tyack said on Friday.
"This group of players has a lot of pride and is very keen to get out there on Saturday and make sure the club doesn't get that wooden spoon."
The Bloods are coming off a one-point loss to Maryborough last Sunday - their second loss by the barest of margins this season - while the week before they pushed fifth-placed Kangaroo Flat until midway through the final quarter.
"The boys are still putting up some very competitive performances and they will go out on Saturday with a lot of intensity at the footy to make sure we come out on top," Tyack said.
Castlemaine coach Shane Robertson said the Magpies weren't concerned by the prospect of finishing last on the ladder, with his focus on building for the future.
"Over the past three weeks we haven't been about winning or losing, we've been looking to next year and that's why we played half-a-dozen juniors last Saturday," Robertson said.
"Unfortunately, you've got to pay the price in order to get experience into your young players, and if that means the wooden spoon comes along, then it comes along.
"We've had a topsy-turvy sort of a season and if the wooden spoon is a result of it, then so be it, but looking ahead to next year is more important and that's the way we'll attack this game."
The Magpies last Saturday kicked their highest score since early in the 2012 season when they booted 15.13 (103) in a 28-point loss to Kyneton, while the previous week they competed with flag contender Sandhurst for two-and-a-half quarters at the QEO.
The Magpies' focus on youth last week included under-18 players Kane Timmins, Benjamin Leech, Tommy Horne, Natnael McLaren, Mark Noonan and Kalan Huntly all playing in the seniors.
"Hopefully, our senior players can balance it out on Saturday and we have a bit of luck," Robertson said.