The Bendigo Football Club‘s alignment with Essendon is over, after they bravely went down in their VFL elimination final contest with Williamstown by 12 points last Saturday.
The Gold produced a spirited fightback with three of their four Essendon-listed players going down with injury, kicking five consecutive goals to cut the deficit to five points in the last term, but just fell short of the Seagulls.
The club goes standalone in 2013, and new coach Austinn Jones said he was buoyed by the team’s remarkable performance in such trying circumstances.
“The fact there were only four Essendon listed players in the game, and down to one at the end, showed that the talent on our list is certainly there and we absolutely have something to work with,” he said.
“It made me pretty excited to be honest, and I thought to myself we really have a chance to be pretty good.”
Jones and his family moved into their house in Bendigo last week and the former St Kilda champion said being involved in the community is one of his main focuses, including coaching Catholic College Bendigo’s boys’ football team next year.
“Definitely, I’ll be getting involved with some school clinics, I’ll coach the Catholic College team next year and I’ll be getting involved whenever and wherever I can because I feel it’s extremely important,” he said.
“I was glad in a way that my season with Beaconsfield ended at the weekend, because I was excited to get up here.”
Jones and Gold general manager Graham Pratt aren’t getting ahead of themselves, Pratt setting realistic expectations into next season.
“We think that if we can be consistently competitive, win games at the QEO, get a few young players drafted and draw good crowds, we will have had a pretty successful year,” he said.
“Am I competitive? Absolutely. Is Austinn competitive? You bet, and we’d both love to make finals, but we also realise that’s unlikely to happen in the first year or two.”
Off the field, the Gold faces a number of challenges including recruiting players and finding a permanent base, which Pratt said they are tackling head on.
In a boost for the club, their home games, including up to four Friday night games, will be played at the QEO.
“Sandhurst and South Bendigo have been great with allowing us to use their facilities when we’ve played at the QEO this year,” Pratt said.
“They ran the canteen for us and got the proceeds, which was a real win-win situation.
“It’s great to be able to play at the QEO, it’s a fantastic facility and we hope the Friday night games will attract big followings, but we’d love to have our own facility to call home.”
Jones said the club has held discussions with a number of players.
“Our list (of 36 players) will probably consist of a few ex-Bendigo Pioneers boys, players from our existing list and then other players,” he said.
“We’ve been having really positive talks with a fair few players.”