BENDIGO Gold coach Aussie Jones hopes the club’s final game is treated like a celebration and not a funeral.
A big crowd is tipped to pack the QEO on Friday night to watch the Gold play their last VFL game against Collingwood.
It’s been an emotional two months for the Gold since the decision was made to close the club’s doors and Jones expects that emotion to spill over on Friday night.
“That final emotion still hasn’t kicked in,’’ Jones said.
“The players are still dictating the energy and enthusiasm around the place and there is a strong, positive feeling about their last opportunity to play footy together.
“We’ve never had a negative attitude and we don’t want the feeling around the game to be negative.
“The emotion of it being our last game probably won’t sink in until after the final siren.”
Jones conceded the emotion of the night could work for or against his players as they chase a fairytale finish against the Magpies.
“So much of what the players do is in my control, but one thing that is out of my control is how each individual deals with the emotion of the night,’’ Jones said.
“I can’t treat the group the same. It will be the end of a football season for some and the end of an era for others.
“We’ll talk about making sure we focus on what we need to focus on, but internally some players will deal with the night differently to others.”
With Collingwood’s AFL squad decimated because of injuries, the Magpies’ VFL side will arguably be the weakest it’s been all season.
While the Gold will still go into the game as massive underdogs, their chances of scoring an upset win have been strengthened.
“The guys are obviously aware of Collingwood’s injury list, but I’ve tried to balance it a little bit because you know AFL clubs have very good depth in their list, even in their VFL lists,’’ Jones said.
“We need every player to be at their best in terms of their individual effort and focus on the team for us to be in the hunt.
“It would be great for the club to finish with a win and there’s no reason why that can’t be tomorrow night.”
Former Bendigo Bombers coach Matthew Knights would love to see the Gold finish with a win.
Knights saw Collingwood first-hand last week in his role as Geelong’s VFL coach.
“The guys that got hold of us last week were Jesse White, Quinten Lynch, Tony Armstrong and Josh Thomas and there’s a good chance those guys will be playing AFL this week,’’ Knights said.
“Once you take five or six players of the highest calibre out of a VFL team it does make them vulnerable.
“I give Bendigo Gold a small chance of knocking the Magpies off.”
Jones said his players deserved to taste victory for the resilience they’ve showed through a tough 12 months.
However, he’s also well aware that a fairytale finish won’t be handed to the Gold on a platter.
“The couple of days after the game are going to be enjoyable anyway,’’ Jones said.
“But if we have a win together the feeling in the rooms after the game will be pretty special.”