MYRTLEFORD’S pivotal clash with Corowa-Rutherglen on Saturday will also be a game of milestones for the Saints.
Stalwarts Marnie Doodewaard and Jaclyn McAlpine will play their 150th and 200th games for the club.
The midcourters say much has changed since they started their Ovens and Murray careers — Doodewaard at Wangaratta Rovers and McAlpine, then a Piazza, as a 15-year-old at the McNamara Reserve.
McAlpine, 31, said generation next are smarter netballers.
“They come into these sides as newcomers to A grade but already with the skill and knowledge of a player much older than their years,” she said.
“You see them at clubs like Yarrawonga and Lavington — tall girls, with good netball brains and soaking up the knowledge of senior players like Bridget Cassar and Sarah Senini.”
Doodewaard, in her ninth season in the Ovens Valley after playing two years of O and M netball at Rovers, says the game is appreciably quicker.
“Maybe I’m getting older but the girls seem to be getting younger and the pace of the game increasing all the time,” she said.
“I’ve been lucky with injuries but I need to work on my fitness away from regular training sessions.
“Juggling work and three kids, I’ll try to get a 5km run in somewhere during those other days.”
Doodeward, 34, says the Saints’ culture makes it easy to turn up for the start of each pre-season.
“It’s a great place to be around and with people like Anndrea Grant, Janelle McMasters, Narelle Breen and Ruth Quirk at the club it’s just like home,” she said.
McAlpine said the Saints were her de facto family — her mum Sandra was instrumental in the formation of Ovens and Murray netball and a long time Myrtleford president.
After six years in Darwin she returned to the club where she won premierships in 2000 and 2003 at the start of last year.
“I played four games and got pregnant, so I coached the B grade,” she said.
“This year I’m back and played my first game in A grade against Yarrawonga last week.”
Both agree the Saints need to step up to play finals after winning games against sides lower on the ladder in the opening rounds but suffering heavy losses to both Yarrawonga and Lavington.
“We exploded out of the blocks in the first quarter of the year in the game against Raiders but probably haven’t played like that since,” Doodewaard said.
“We still haven’t settled as a unit and will face a tough game against a Corowa side who has pushed all the top teams this year.”
Corowa-Rutherglen captain Jess Bice will play her 100th Ovens and Murray match on Saturday.