While many clubs have undergone significant change since they last played a competitive game, Ararat Eagles Football Netball Club's transformation is likely the most dramatic of any team in the Mininera and District Football League.
The Eagles' had a wretched 2019, finishing with a percentage of just 5.10 and even having to forfeit a match due to insufficient numbers.
Club president Nats McRoberts said the club's dire situation would eventually become a catalyst for change.
"2019 was an all-time low for the Ararat Eagles, the potential of going into recess was very real," he said.
"However, as a club, we climbed that hurdle; it seemed we'd jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
"Demoralising loses and forfeits was our destiny. Our greatest loss was to Great Western, 509 points. It was a blessing in disguise and was the kick start as to where we are today."
With the club's existence under threat, Brett Sladdin decided to return as the senior team coach, with former Eagles players Tom and Jack Taurau, Zac Jenkins, Naish McRoberts, and Ben Robertson joining him. Former Stawell Warriors coach Bhun Joiner also joined as assistant coach to Sladdin.
The recruiting did not stop there either.
"2020 recruiting was fantastic," McRoberts said.
"2021 has also been successful with the signing of Jayden Wright, former Best and Fairest winner Harry Ennis and a few up and coming youngsters Kaiden Walton, Brenton Lewis, Mason Kelly and Reece Kettle."
McRoberts said while it was an exciting time for the club, it was important to keep their expectations grounded.
"The aim for the club this year is to be competitive. Anything above that will be a bonus, we have to keep in mind we're coming from along way back," he said.
"Pre-season was a slow start given the uncertainty of Covid 19; however, things are on the move now.
"We're averaging approximately 25 to 35 players on the track of a Wednesday night. We seem to be gathering momentum week by week."
McRoberts also expressed his gratitude to the club's sponsors, who he said was integral to the club's recovery.
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