Tom Hams and Steve Stroobants are at very different stages of their VFL careers, but they’re united in their enthusiasm for playing at the Bendigo Gold next season.
Hams, 22, has committed for his first season in the VFL after impressing this season in the Bendigo Football League.
“I’ve never gone through that TAC Cup level, so this is my first taste of that higher level,” said the South Bendigo midfield star.
“I got a lot of opportunities with Victoria Country and the (AFL Victoria) Young Guns game down in Melbourne this season.
“It was good to play with a lot of skilful players. Just from that, it got me that taste and put a bit of fire in the belly to play in that VFL comp.
“’Cobs’ (South coach Rick Coburn) has been really supportive. That’s the great thing about South Bendigo, if you want to further your footy they’re happy to see that.”
Originally from Sale, Hams is confident the Gold will be competitive next year and he wants to be a part of the fledgling stand-alone team.
“It’s going to be good, it’s a new club, it’s exciting,” he said.
Entering his sixth season with Bendigo, Stroobants is having one last crack at making the AFL.
Also a South Bendigo player, small forward Stroobants was the Gold’s most improved footballer in 2012.
“I had a pretty good year this year in the VFL, I just thought giving it away now’s pretty stupid really. I just thought, why not have another go and see where I can get myself in footy,” he said.
“Everyone aspires to play AFL, I’m 23 now so one more year, if that never happens we’ll see what happens.”
Stroobants grew up in New South Wales and moved to Bendigo to play for the Pioneers in the TAC Cup.
He’s looking forward to the Gold forging ahead as a stand-alone team, without the uncertainty of Essendon players dropping back to take Bendigo-listed players’ spots.
“With the alignment it was pretty much the same every year,” Stroobants said.
“We had the Essendon blokes come back and you were in and out of the side. Now we’ve just got our club we’ll have our own culture, our players will be playing every week.
“It will be just like any other country club next year, so it’ll be good.”