Wodonga Raiders say outgoing coach Steve Keene saved the club from oblivion.
Keene stepped down on Tuesday night after accepting the role as Murrumbidgee Turf Club chief executive.
He could play his last game against Wodonga on Saturday, although he will continue to help interim coach Ben Stewart.
“He’s been exceptional, he took the club from nothing to where it is today,” president Brian Glass enthused.
Glass admits the club was on the verge of folding prior to Keene’s arrival at the start of 2017-18.
“It’s been quite a challenge to get the club to where it is now from almost folding 16 months ago,” Keene said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s probably testament to the guys that have copped their fair whacks along the journey from outside the club.”
Former Wodonga player Trent Ball criticised CAW’s decision to promote Raiders from district to provincial in mid-2013 and while he was the most vocal critic of the club, some others would also privately question the move.
Raiders claimed five straight wooden spoons, racking up only two wins, but they snapped a 44-match losing streak against New City in October.
It remains their only win, but they’ve lost nine close games at both T20 and 50-over level.
“They will get there no doubt,” Keene said.
“It’s just a matter of when, it’s not a matter of if.
“The standard of the competition’s really taken a nosedive, so that gives plenty of hope to those clubs down the bottom.”
They will get there no doubt. It’s just a matter of when, it’s not a matter of if.Steve Keene
Despite the narrow losses, Raiders have bounced back, off the field.
“I’ve gone back, a lot of people have gone back to the club,” Glass said.
“We’ve got strong juniors and the first thing was to get the club back to the right basics, having good family people involved.”
Keene, who’s already started looking for a new coach for the 2019-20 season, says the club needs a quality top order bat and wicketkeeper-batsman to finally push into finals contention.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here