SEASON 2020 for the Heathcote District Football-Netball League will go into the history books as the year that never was.
The HDFNL became community football-netball's first victim in Victoria of the coronavirus pandemic when it abandoned its 2020 season on May 21.
So how would have each team shaped up in 2020? Here's a look at the comings and goings of each during the off-season, what the coaches had to say to the Advertiser back in March for the annual pre-season guide that was abandoned and our team prospects.
Coach: Julian Bull (second year).
Last year: 2nd (14-5).
Arrivals: Darcy Booth, Jed Brain, Will Falland, Clint Shields, Jason Turnbull, Josh Summers, Joel Sacco.
Departures: Damien Carmody, Daniel Connors, Chris Horsley, Matt McEvoy, Xavier Walsh.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "We're keen to move some really strong marking players into our backline. We feel we have a very strong backline defensively, but we want to turn that into attack with some more intercept marking.
"With Macca (Matt McEvoy) out we'll probably look to use Tom Hill as our anchor at full-back and there's also the possibility of using Reardo (Matt Riordan) down there as well." - Julian Bull.
WE SAID - Like any beaten grand final team the Grasshoppers will return with the added motivation of using last year's defeat to drive them. The losses of Damien Carmody and Matt McEvoy will lead to some backline re-shuffling, but should be thereabouts again fighting for a top-three position.
Coach: Dylan Friedberger (new).
Last year: 7th (5-11).
Arrivals: Dylan Friedberger, Damian Wust, Corey Windridge, Tannar Cerrone, Peter Harrison, Rex Taylor, Griffin Bird, Liam Gundry, Nick Kellow, Matthew Nettlefold, Jack Oogjes, Anthony Friedberger.
Departures: Danny Brewster, Nathan Brewster, Daniel Green, Romain Grenville, Brodie Hawke, Rhys Healey, Darcy Laffy.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "We've got Mitch Cricelli coming up from the under-17s as a young forward and for him to be able to learn off Corey (Windridge) is going to be really positive.
"Hopefully, we can get 20 or 30 goals out of those boys and 20 or 30 out of James Harney and we've nearly replaced what we lost.
"Tannar Cerrone will also be a quality addition in the forward line. He has a great sense with the ability to get himself in the right spot be it forward or in the midfield." - Dylan Friedberger.
WE SAID - With so many new recruits coming into the club it's tricky get a gauge on where the Bloods sit in the pecking order given the turnover. If it clicks they could be a handful, particularly if they can gell early. Were one of the competition's improvers last year, so good signs.
Coach: Wayne Primmer (second year).
Last year: 8th (1-15).
Arrivals: Billy Price, Mitch McLean, Sean Robinson, Jackson Jones, Jackson Bailey, Ryan Bailey, Jake Battye, Isaac Fleming.
Departures: Luke Bell.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "The pleasing thing about the club is that even though we only won the one game, the players wanted to stay, which is a positive.
"We were able to retain the list really well and then with our recruiting we've brought in a lot of young players.
"Sean Robinson has got a bit of experience behind him, but outside of that the rest of the recruits are all fairly young.
"We think we'll be a lot quicker this year and that the recruits we've brought in will add a lot more skill to our side." - Wayne Primmer.
WE SAID -Given there's eight inclusions and just one departure the Saints should bat much deeper. Only won one game last year and coming from a fair way back, but with a stronger list at their disposal that should lead to an improved 2020.
Coach: Stacy Fiske (second year).
Last year: 9th (1-15).
Arrivals: Connor Aldous, Brandon Dimech, Jordan Formosa, Chris Gleeson, Dylan Hawken, Nick Leach, Jay McDonald, Jesse McDonald, Tyler Miles, Jeremy Molloy, Jake Semmel, Ryan Semmel, Ben Smith, Jake Maher.
Departures: Jack Daley, Phil Ryan.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "I felt we turned the wheel back the right way in the second half of last season and with not too many players moving on I think it's reflected that we feel we're headed in the right direction.
"We're really excited about this year, but we're under no illusion that we're coming off just one win last year, so we have a lot of work to do and a lot has to go right for us to get up the ladder where we hope to be.
"What's really exciting though for the club is this is the first time I can remember we've had six or seven under-17s coming up who will be in that senior mix.
"A lot of our young players got some senior experience last year and that's going to put more pressure on for spots. Good teams need to have depth and competition for spots each week." - Stacy Fiske.
WE SAID -The Hawks should be well clear of the bottom of the ladder where they finished last year. The Hawks' recruiting adds to their forward, midfield and defensive stocks and they should be right in the thick of hunting a finals berth thanks to making a significant turnaround in quick time.
Coach: Cameron Van Florestein (new).
Last year: 6th (8-8).
Arrivals: Edward McGegor, Rhys Bradley, Mitchell Candy, Cameron Van Florestein, Riley Hay.
Departures: Daniel Coates, Joel Donehue, Jack Dye, Liam Guinan, Matthew Hay, Brady Hore, Tyler Jones, Brad Ladson, Matt Ladson, Oliver O'Shea, Matt Pollock, Logan Prout, Jake Vandongen, Ayden Walton.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "The main thing we want to do this year is create a good environment where the players want to learn.
"And we want to be a really fit side so we can be in games as long as we can and be able to play four quarters of consistent footy.
"We're not shying away from the fact we've lost some players, but that's just part of grassroots footy." - Cameron Van Florestein.
WE SAID -Very much a development year at the Bombers given such a high departure of experience. The Bombers, though, are renowned for their young talent, having won three of the past four premierships, and being difficult to beat at home, but it looks like being hard yards this year.
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Coaches: Kahl Oliver (third year) and Brodie Collins (new).
Last year: 4th (13-5).
Arrivals: Lachlan Atherton, Trent Bacon, Brodie Collins, Jesse Collins, Ben McPhee, James McPhee, Liam Wilkinson, Tony McMahon.
Departures: Stanley Brentnall, Gavin Broad.
WHAT THE CO-COACH SAID - "We know we've recruited well, but we've got to make it all work now.
"We know there's pressure and expectation on us both externally and internally and everyone is probably going to be hunting us and gauging where they're at against us." - Kahl Oliver.
WE SAID -The premiership looks the Cats to lose given the quality they've brought in to a list that badly under-performed in last year's finals series. There's going to be no room for passengers in the Cats side given the depth of a list that looks to have no weaknesses, ensuring LBU is the short-priced flag favourite.
Coach: Darren Walsh (third year).
Last year: 3rd (11-8).
Arrivals: Travis Baird, Brayden Dorrington, James Walsh, Lachlan Cameron, Joel Roney.
Departures: Nick Edwards, Luke Marchesi, Cody Green, Seb Spijkernan.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "We think with the injection of our recruits, plus getting Joey Whiting and Bryce Hinneberg back from injury, will give us some natural improvement.
"We attack pretty well, but we know we have to be better with out defensive mindset, which has been one of our focuses of the pre-season." - Darren Walsh.
WE SAID - The Blues have shown over the past two years they are a team on the rise and got a taste once again of the business end last season with two finals wins. Hopefully, for the Blues' sake they get injury-free seasons out of Baird and Dorrington, but should be able to use last year as a springboard to press for the top three.
Coach: Matt Dillon (third year).
Last year: 1st (17-2).
Arrivals: Shannon Burton, Andrew Chalkley, Clay Davies, Jaran McKay, Sam Demeo, Dylan Klemm.
Departures: Brady Herdman, Darcy Richards, Jarrod Findlay, Jake Hyland, Ben Knight, Zach Alford, Callum Tardrew, Jordan Collins, Billy Robertson.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "We've lost a bit of midfield potency, but we get in Jaran McKay, who won Wedderburn's best and fairest last year, and Andrew Chalkley has played inter-league down at Outer East.
"Obviously, we would like to have kept a few more from our premiership team, but we still think we'll have a strong group.
"It obviously hurts losing two key forwards (Brady Herdman and Darcy Richards), but Dylan Klemm will come in and play a key role for us and we've also got the likes of Jordan Ford and Shane Harris who have played key back for us who can also play key forward." - Matt Dillon.
WE SAID - There may be seven departures from the premiership team, but never write off North Bendigo - particularly when you have a home record as dominant as the Bulldogs over the past five years. Still have a side stacked with talent, including reigning Cheatley medallist Joel Helman, but expect to be among the pack of sides chasing LBU.
Coach: Sam Kerridge (second year).
Last year: 5th (8-9).
Arrivals Jack Fallon, Lachlan Sidebottom, Ryan Walker, Jake Dickens, Nathan Moffatt.
Departures: Pascale Craig, Jack Maher, Dane Spear.
WHAT THE COACH SAID - "It was an important 12 months last year and I think we've really grown as a club, which I'm excited about.
"The boys have adapted well to the gameplan and adding in the likes of Sidebottom and Fallon, who has taken a fair chunk of the pre-season, as assistant coach has been really positive.
"We went in a bit blindly last year with it all being a bit of an unknown, but this year we're looking to make a statement early in the year and play some seriously good football." - Sam Kerridge.
WE SAID -The Demons were chasing their tails for much of last season following a slow start. However, expect the Demons to be "better for the run" last year given there were plenty of new faces and a new gameplan under first-time coach Sam Kerridge and be challenging for a top three berth this season.
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