THERE is no denying the teams out at Nangiloc Football Netball Club were up and about this season.
For the men’s football side and the A and C Grade netball teams, they led the way for the league, sitting on top of the ladder.
The girl’s football team played − and won − a final for the first time and the B Grade were second on the ladder.
Everything was cruising along out at Nangiloc.
Until COVID reared its head … again.
After an interrupted season the Millewa Football and Netball League and Sunraysia Women’s Football League made the decision to forego their season with no sign that restrictions would ease anytime soon allowing the competition to proceed.
For a club that was going from strength to strength − even during challenging pandemic times − there was definitely some head scratching that went on, and more than once there was no doubt the question asked: “What was it all for?”
But there’s a lot to celebrate out at Nangiloc, in a time where there is enough doom and gloom, and led by president Cam Cox, the club plans on acknowledging the achievements − big or small.
Beaten after the siren the last time a MFNL grand final was held, back in 2019, the men’s side were looking for redemption this year. And they were well on the way to getting it.
The boys had only dropped the one game this season, which came at the hands of Bambill in Round 11.
“The men’s side were on top of the ladder, but we were beating all teams convincingly,” Cox said.
“Bambill beat us by eight points the last game, which was neither here or there, but the two times before that we beat them by eight to 10 goals.
“We were potentially a lot of goals ahead of second place.”
The girl’s team were also kicking goals − literally − and for the first time played − and won − a final.
“The girls had a convincing win in the elimination football final,” Cox said.
“Bambill got pretty touched up by Werrimull in their qualifying final and may have had their tail between their legs so the girls were confident heading into the semi final been played.”
Cox got the girl’s football side up and running with Sam Lee a few years ago, coaching them for the two years before taking a break.
This year he returned to assist coach Sam Bice and said it has been humbling and rewarding for him personally to see the progress.
“It’s always been a fun and strong group with big potential but we had never really clicked to win games,” Cox said.
“We were pushing sides but not getting over the line and this year that came together.”
Having their own success − and getting plenty of wins on the board − were the Demons netballers − with the A Graders in particular hungry for a premiership after their grand final loss in 2019.
“Up until the season was cancelled, it was a successful season for the netball girls and it’s pleasing to see them do so well,” Cox said.
“Back when Brendan Cogdell was president and I was vice, probably three years ago, the footy boys had just turned around, the footy girls had just started and we knew we wanted to focus on making the netball stronger.
“It’s been a plan to get the netball stronger, we started pushing for the new netball court and have that, we had Kathy Carusella come over as coach and added some new girls to our regular players, and now here we are.”
For his club, Cox said he feels disappointed and sad they didn’t get a shot at a premiership but having some of the teams acknowledged as minor premiers was as good as it was going to get.
“We just need to move on, because it’s weird times,” he added.
“It would have been nice personally to have that premiership, given I have been around the club forever but through injury have never been able to play in a football grand final.
“To be president and get a premiership would have been great, but we didn’t get there.
“There is now massive unfinished business for our whole club.”
Despite a roller coaster of a season, Cox acknowledged the ability all players had to persevere, and said he was appreciative that not only had fans and sponsors stuck by the club, but more sponsors had come on board this season showing their belief in the direction the club was heading.
Cox extended thanks to the committee, coaches, players, sponsors and supporters for their support during what has been a tough year.
– ZOEY ANDREWS
ABOVE: Men’s football coach Korey Loechel led from the front for the Demons this season, and in doing so has secured himself the gig of coach for a consecutive year.