With the long days of summer subsiding away, day light saving being switched off, and the smell of liniment in the air becoming stronger, it can only mean one thing – the six Mid West football teams are about to enter a new season.
The question is, who is up for the challenge to play in the last match of the year at Minnipa?
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The Bulldogs carried all before them in 2016 and are looming very large again this year.
Big scores were the norm for these high flyers, with strength and speed on every line.
Jake Bruce bagged his third Mail Medal and State honours were again awarded to Zac Fitzgerald.
No doubt, after such a convincing season last year, they will be the team to beat with a great mix of experience and younger legs, and the passion for ongoing success.
The club boast great depth, covering inevitable injuries with capable A graders.
With fast scoring play, a mean defence and big bodies, teams will need a game plan to beat the Dogs if they want to hold the cup aloft in September.
WEST COAST HAWKS
The Hawks battled manfully in the 2016 grand final and were nipping at the heals of the Dogs all year.
Major personnel changes in the wind will see a revised outfit for 2017.
With so many changes, it may well take a few matches to settle into the team style, but be sure that this proud club will do just that.
Dillon Kelsh, Dale Montgomerie, Nick Schumann are classy midfielders, while Aiden Whitford, Kirk Montgomerie and Derick Freeman are seasoned campaigners.
Add this to the young legs of Jay Johns and Jake McEvoy, and there’s very much to like at the Hawks’ nest.
They have undergone some good recruiting so expect a September appointment for these boys.
The Bombers performed well last year with club legend Troy Olsen taking the reigns for his first year as coach.
They looked to be the main challenger of the top two, and will take confidence into this year.
It will be a challenge to replace the volume of key outs, but the club won the reserves premiership last year and enjoys great depth.
No club plays with more pride for their jumper and willingness to sacrifice for their mate, so they will be highly competitive this year.
Keys include the mercurial Jason Henderson, Simon Webb, the passion of Ryan Watson, Lachlan Ross, William Mayhew, and Rob Holmes.
Maybe a few appearances from Joe Pedler also.
Never discount the Bombers, they have some lost personnel but they will win their share.
The Magpies returned to the finals last year under coach Henry Zwar, with Darryl Marshall taking on the role and overseeing an enthusiastic group leading into the season.
Can they retain their spot in September?
Key players from last year include Neil Seaman, Henry Zwar, Remi North, Tyson Jackson (prior to another sorty offshore), coach Darryl Marshall, Tom Dupree, Dallas Waters and Adam Jericho.
Look out for the emergence of Ryan Lymn this year.
The Maggies will need to find improved scoring avenues if they want to go all the way.
Their defence works well and they win plenty around the mid field.
Don’t mind the hard tough close games and will look forward with expectation of another finals appearance.
The Roosters’ three wins in 2016 all came prior to Mortlock, with their season fading in the second half and injury taking a heavy toll on so many of their key players.
Don’t be fooled, however, the strong core at the club remains, and a better run with injury will see the Roosters crowing again.
Key players will include Jay Williams, a club and league leader, Jordan Newton, Ross Bascomb, Liam Newton, Ben Hurrell, Tom Rumbelow, Thomas Bascomb, Steve Paul and Brody Kenny.
Looking at the list, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see a red and white re emergence to the finals, maybe a deep sorty into September, so much rests with keeping players fit.
The Roosters can sweep goals very quickly, often surging for 20-minute periods that can yield six to ten goals.
They are a great side to watch when they are playing well and enjoy some of the league’s most vocal supporters.
The Tigers have been the most active of the clubs in playing personnel changes, so may take time to settle into a game plan.
Expect a trip upwards from this squad on the 2017 ladder, there is an air of expectancy in the club.
With an impressive list of ins and some early game permits, the Tigers are likely to be fast starters.
Evergreen Scott Feltus leads the way, with Shannon Horgan, Damon King coming off of great 2016 seasons.
Zane Montgomerie has matured into a key position player with great skill, and look for the emergence of Josh Horgan and Steven Brands in 2017.
Districts look very much an improved side and will hope for early wins to reestablish their finals credentials.
Central Eyre start the 2017 season in poll position, favourites for a three-peat, but everyone is watching what they do.
Early season matches will set sides up for the cold winter ahead, and there will be some entertaining games played as each club stakes their claim.
Good luck to all teams as the season is upon us.
Let the 2017 games begin.