SUNBURY has given a strong indication it will remain a Ballarat Football League powerhouse by re-signing almost its entire playing list with more than a month remaining in the 2014 home and away season.
Moving quickly to maintain the vast majority of the young playing group that has already exceeded many expectations this year, the Lions have already signed 42 players for the 2015 season. Although it is somewhat of an unusual step for Ballarat Football League clubs to move so early in securing players for future years, Sunbury president Phil Lithgow said increasing competition from rival leagues meant clubs had to act faster than ever these days.
Lithgow said it was also important to show a strong sense of unity at the club, given the highly publicised walkout of star players after last season.
“After last year we always wanted to get in and lock these guys away early,” he said.
“We’ve got massive faith in this group – they have exceeded nearly everybody’s expectations.”
Boasting one of its youngest lists in years, the Lions are on the verge of qualifying for finals and face a telling remaining four rounds of the season.
In previous years, scraping into finals would have most likely been deemed a failure for Sunbury, but with a youth-dominated list in 2014 it is a good sign for the future.
Coach Rick Horwood said of the side that lost to Redan at the weekend, 19 out of 22 players had already signed on for next year.
“I’ve never coached a side that is as tight as this and that includes the 2012 premiership side,” he said.
“I think last week’s tragedy (the deaths of Albert and Maree Rizk on board flight MH17) have pulled us together as a club.
“These guys had already signed before that but if anything, it might make others sign on further now.”
Sunbury faces East Point on Saturday, in what could prove to be a defining match in terms of its finals hopes.