North Wangaratta won’t go down without a fight, appointing the experienced Jamie Berry as senior co-coach this season.
Berry, a 200-game premiership player for the Ovens and King league outfit, was given the nod on Wednesday night to work alongside Hawks’ life member Darryn White in the top job after almost two years of hell, following a lead contamination which forced it off its home ground.
Hawks’ president Gary O’Keefe said Berry had been in an assistant role in recent seasons and will take charge with White in 2018.
“We had to do it fairly quickly, we couldn’t leave it too much longer otherwise we’d run out of time,” O’Keefe said.
“Our plan over the next week or two is to generate a bit of excitement around the club.
“There’s a realisation we’re not going to fold or walk away, so we’re now after the public’s support.
“Even if it’s just to watch training and not necessarily be involved in the footy itself.
“We need people to come down and have a look at who we are and what we are and get as many people on the track as we possibly can.”
O’Keefe admitted the stress of the club’s predicament over the last two seasons has taken its toll on many involved.
“A lot of people are just physically and mentally worn out, not through wanting to leave the club, but they’re buggered from having so much put on them,” he said.
“Hopefully we can turn that around and start to develop a bit of a club again.
“Our biggest job this year is to survive.
“If we can get through this year and hopefully with improved facilities and a bit of interest sparked up around the club, we can then start to rebuild a successful team again.
“We need to get a belief in the people around the community and the players that have been there before that we aren’t going way.”
The Hawks are hoping to regain access to North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
In the meantime, the club will continue to train at Wareena Park and play all of its games prior to that date at away venues.
“Queen’s Birthday is the nominated date and it all depends on the winter we have and how successful it’s going to be by then,” O’Keefe said.
“The league has rescheduled most of that within their draw, it’s just the logistical problems of shifting stuff like canteens when we need to and playing at other grounds which is a necessity that has to happen again this year.
“I think we have six of the nine games at home in the second half of the season.
“They’re pretty sure they’ll have the ground scraped and ready in the next week or two, but it’s all the infrastructure they’ve got to put into it like the drainage, irrigation, electricity and water lines.”
The club hasn’t won a game of senior football since beating Goorambat in round 14 of the 2015 season.