DUNOLLY Football Netball Club is staying positive despite facing a race against time in its bid to overcome a player shortage.
With little over five weeks to go to the start of the Maryborough Castlemaine District Football League season, the Eagles are still in need of 20 more footballers to field competitive senior and reserves teams.
The situation comes a month after the Eagles implemented a radical incentive-based player payment plan to keep the club within the league's $45,000 salary cap.
Under the scheme, the best player on the ground for the Eagles each week would receive $1000, with incentives of $400 and $300 for players voted second and third best, down to $50 for players seventh to 10th.
A similar reduced scheme will also operate at reserves level.
Eagles president Stephen Riley said the club's committee and loyal band of volunteers had worked diligently in recent months to restore the club's financial position, but the focus now would centre on boosting playing stocks.
He said new coach Darren 'Dasha' Smith had been relentless in his pursuit of recruits and with some success.
"We're still at least 15 to 20 senior guys short of where we need to be," he said.
"Darren has done as much as he can and got as many players as he can, but we are at a point wher we can't attract any more.
"It's a difficulty a lot of clubs are facing in country facing, so basically we're appealing for another 15 to 20 guys to be able to field competitive teams.
"Off-field we are doing really well and in a great position compared to where we were a couple of months ago.
"We are better off-field than we have been for a number of years."
Dunolly Football Club is one of the oldest in central Victoria and was founded in 1873.
The Eagles will celebrate 150 years in 2023.
Prospective recruits will have the chance to line-up alongside former West Coast Eagles star Daniel Kerr, who has signed on to play for Dunolly in its June 3 game against Maldon.
Riley said Kerr, who was twice runner-up in the Brownlow Medal, was looking forward to his cameo appearance with the Eagles.
"He's pretty excited about it as are we," he said.
"It should be a massive day for the club.
"Our club hasn't done anything like this before, but I know there's clubs in the Bendigo league who have done it. (Kangaroo Flat) had Brendon Fevola a few years ago.
"It does attract a lot of people in and we are using it as our sponsors day."
Dunolly finished last season in ninth position out of 14 teams and last played finals in 2011.
Riley said the club had undergone massive changes in recent months, with a committee dedicated to ensuring the club's long-term survival.
"We are putting in place three plans and obviously there is more that needs to be done, but we need to be competitive in the field," he said.
"We are lacking players at the moment.
"We are fairly well right for reserves players, we need some quality."
The Eagles will host their family day this Saturday at the Dunolly Recreation Reserve and would welcome any new players and supporters.