The North Wangaratta Football Netball Club is facing the toughest time in its 126-year history as it fights for survival.
A lead contamination, found in May, 2016, which forced the club to abandon the North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve, is now threatening to kill it off.
“Just about, yeah, and purely because we don’t have a home,” club president Gary O’Keefe said.
“It’s probably about as bad as it’s been.”
The Hawks haven’t won a game since round 14, 2015, racking up 40 straight losses.
Around 15 senior players attended pre-Christmas training.
“We’ve cancelled the reserves, AFL North East Border verballed it before Christmas,” O’Keefe said.
‘We’re hoping for a playing list of around 30.”
Since it was forced off the ground, the club has played its ‘home’ games at the away team, which has allowed the Hawks to use its facilities.
“But what we’re mainly concerned about is the effect it’s having on our volunteers,” O’Keefe said.
“It’s been bloody hard, just with the wear and tear on our volunteers.
“The last couple of years they’ve been doing 12-13 hour days.
“We’ve had to pick up our cooking gear, take it to where we’re playing, set up, then tidy up and come back and unpack, it’s normally 7pm.”
And the club has naturally taken a financial hit.
“One of our committeemen was comparing the last two seasons with the five previous, in cash flow, and we’re probably $150,000 backwards,” O’Keefe said.
Recruiting has been virtually impossible, given the club doesn’t have a coach, although an appointment is expected shortly.
From there, the survival call will go out.
“Come and support us, come and have a kick of the footy,” he said.
O’Keefe was asked if this year was a case of holding on for dear life.
“Yes, absolutely,” he said.