Burnside Heights players have a spring in their step as the start of the Essendon District Football League division 2 season gets closer.

Having won just one game in the past two seasons, the Bears have been the competition bottom dwellers, but they are hoping that’s in the past after the club’s busiest off season so far.

Bears coach Aidan Stott said he was hopeful of having a more competitive side this season.

“We know we’re coming from a long way back,” he said “How competitive we will be I don’t yet know, but we’ll surprise a few teams.

“It’ll be our fourth year in the competition and it’s the first time we’ve tried to recruit and bring guys in. Hopefully, we’re not the whipping boys anymore.”

Stott, entering his first full season as coach, was appointed to the role in June with one eye firmly focused on getting things right. He said the look of the Bears’ line-up this season would be very different.

“We should have about 12 new faces in the senior side come round one,” he said. “We’ve added two young ruckman, four quality midfielders and three forwards. We’re hoping to finalise the signings of two key defenders in the next week. We’ve added plenty of players and added some much-needed depth.”

He said there were about 12 new faces in the reserves side as well, with the club getting about 60 players on the training track.

“We’re excited by the possibilities for this year,” he said. “We’re all excited by the challenge of continued commitment and improvement.”

Stott said that beyond the senior playing group, things were positive at the club as a whole. New team manager, medical staff and volunteers had added “a breath of fresh air”.

The good numbers on the track had flowed through to the junior teams, with the club having about 400 kids involved in junior sides and Auskick.

“Hopefully, they are the future of the club and push through into the senior teams,” Stott said. “There’s definitely a couple of under-18s who are pushing through, while there’s a couple of under-19s who are exciting us.”

The Bears’ senior side will start its season on April 1 against East Sunbury in a twilight match.


Tara Murray