DARRELL Billett fondly remembers his playing days at Inglewood in the 1980s.
"The place was absolutely humming... the town was really a buzz and the group we had out there were all strong mates," Billett said this week.
"Back in the early '80s the club had been down for a bit, but we got a group together that all got along really well and in 1984 we played in a grand final."
1984 was the first of four consecutive Loddon Valley grand finals that gun forward Billett and the Blues played in, which included winning the 1986 premiership.
But that was more than 30 years ago and the sustained run of Inglewood as an LVFNL premiership contender is now a distant memory.
Instead, Billett returns to Inglewood as the new senior coach with the Blues having claimed eight of the past nine wooden spoons, and only once through those nine seasons won more than one game (five in 2016).
Billett acknowledges the task of trying to turn around the fortunes of the Blues won't be easy in what's his second stint as coach having previously led the club from 2006 to 2008.
"It has obviously been tough going for quite a while now and I'm certainly under no illusion that it won't be easy next year," Billett said on Thursday.
"Hopefully, we can recruit a good bunch of kids who want to play together and build something. We're down the bottom now, so we can't go any worse.
"We need a group who will, hopefully, stick around for a while because there won't be a quick fix.
"Our first aim is to keep the majority of what we've got, try to get some past players back and bring in a young group and build that way."
The Blues were winless in the seniors this year, although, both their reserves and under-18 teams finished top three.
"I'm up for the challenge and so is the club," said Billett, who is a member of Inglewood's Team of the Century.
"Our starting point for next year is just to be as competitive as we can be. I look back to the start of this year when they lost to Serpentine by a point... Serp went on to be a top-three team, so to push them the way they did, there must be something there to work with."
In Billett's first stint as coach, the Blues - who last played senior finals in 2003 - went from zero wins in 2006 to four in 2007 and five in 2008.
INGLEWOOD 2019 SNAPSHOT:
Record - 0-16
Percentage - 34.1%
Average for - 46
Average against - 133
Attack rank - 9th
Defence rank - 9th
Quarters won - 7 of 64
Avg. player points - 42.1
Players used - 40
Played every game - 8
Club best top five:
Lachlan Sidebottom - 37
Hayden Polglase - 26
Samuel Barnes - 26
Jaxon Billett - 24
Nicholas Leach - 23
Samuel Barnes - 20
Lachlan Sidebottom - 10
Alex Mitchell - 10
Daniel Lloyd - 9
Chris McKay - 7
Yet another tough year for the Blues, who endured a winless 2019 - the closest they came to a victory being their one-point loss to BL-Serpentine in round two.
And the post-season hasn't started much better either, with best and fairest winner Lachlan Sidebottom having already been announced as a White Hills' recruit.
Tough sell to find positives out of the year, but outgoing coach Ryan McNish labelled the development of players such as Matt Rowe, Taj Rodwell, Liam Drummond, Sam Barnes and Jaxon Billett as the silver lining.
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