THE question that has to be asked: is Springbank getting the bang for its buck?
Touted as one of the serious Central Highlands Football League premiership hopes after another big pre-season recruiting effort, the GJ Gardner Tigers now look almost certain to miss the top four after a shock loss to battlers Clunes on Saturday.
This follows a heavy defeat to rivals Gordon in round eight, a belting from Hepburn in round six and a two-point loss to ladder-leaders Bungaree in round four.
The Tigers are seventh, and although well clear inside the eight, are still two games adrift of the top four.
And the fact that the Tigers were fourth – with just two losses – at this point last year and still missed the four is alarming.
It’s getting harder and harder to make a case that they should still be mentioned as a flag threat.
The club is widely regarded by Central Highlands onlookers to have spent up big this season to lure key recruits including former Brisbane Lion Matt Tyler, North Ballarat Roosters triple premiership player Bill Driscoll (albeit for only a portion of the year) and Ballarat Football League star Tim Malone.
Throw in also 2013 recruit Paul McMahon, gun forward Tom Eltringham and a host of other players that would demand a decent pay cheque and coach Sam Giblett would certainly have hoped to be better placed after 10 rounds.
Eltringham and Driscoll were the only big names missing from the team that lost to Clunes at the weekend.
By no means is Springbank alone in paying its players – it’s the way of country football – but there’s little doubt the club would have hoped for a better return at this point in the season.
There’s still time to turn it all around, but the Tigers would want to get a move on if they are to cash in in 2014.