Wodonga Heart still has a pulse despite losing senior men’s team

TOUGH: Melrose's Jye Zanardo chases down Wodonga Heart's Brandon Fleming. The Wodonga club has forfeited its senior men's side this season.
TOUGH: Melrose's Jye Zanardo chases down Wodonga Heart's Brandon Fleming. The Wodonga club has forfeited its senior men's side this season.

Wodonga Heart has withdrawn from the AWFA senior men’s competition for the upcoming season.

The club formed in 2012 and had its worst season in recent history last year, finishing winless with just 10 goals to its name and a whopping 179 against.

Heart has had just seven senior men’s wins in five seasons and also didn’t field a division one side in 2014.

Senior coach Mick Hughson said everything came to a head after the disappointment of last season. 

“A few of the boys decided to move onto greener pastures, so, unfortunately, with the group we have at the moment, it’s probably unrealistic to field a first division team,” Hughson said.

“We want to be competitive in the competition.”

However, Hughson feels there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have quite a good list of division three players that are coming through, so we’ll play in the reserves with the hope of blooding a few of those guys and giving them some senior football.

“Hopefully we’ll be bigger and better next year.

“We still have a core group of players returning from last season that played a major part in our firsts squad.

“With our junior squads going well, we think it’s a real possibility that it’s only going to be a one-year thing.”

Heart also has plans in place to upgrade its facilities at Willow Park following the 2018 season, with new lighting and the construction of male and female change rooms.

“Hopefully we can get a bit of excitement around that,” Hughson said.

AWFA president Mark Leman said Heart’s senior fixtures will become byes.

He added the association will be there to help if required.

“We can do some marketing and promotions, but we don’t fully know what the issues are with the club,” Leman said.

“The problem with Heart is that they’re struggling for senior player numbers at that senior player level.

“What they’ll do is use that as a platform to recruit and build to hopefully next season have a team.

“We need to market our brand more and that’s what we’re working on at the moment to promote the local association.

“Instead of being a 12-club competition, it’s really a 13-club competition because Murray United play in Melbourne.

“Not that players from Heart probably go to Murray United, but they go where their mates are.

“It’s a challenging time between that 15-21 age group where university, VCE, HSC and travelling to Melbourne comes into it.

“We’re not the only sport that has that problem.”

Wodonga Heart aims to field a reserve ladies and under 13s girls side, meaning it will have one more team on the park than last year.