COBDEN coach Stephen Hammond remains upbeat about the Bombers’ Hampden league prospects, despite the loss of another key figure.
Two-time Maskell medal-winning ruckman Levi Dare has left Cobden to join his brother Joe at Geelong Football League club Colac.
His departure brings to six the number of key players who have found themselves new football homes during the off-season.
Young ruckman/forward Marcus Hickey has returned to home club Timboon Demons, where his brother Brendan is coach.
Adam Courtney (Simpson), Aidan Cole (Nirranda) and Daryl Beechey (Old Collegians) have picked up coaching jobs in neighbouring leagues.
But Hammond, who took over from Wayne Robertson last month, yesterday said the outlook was bright at Cobden.
He said the Bombers’ goals for next season had not changed, highlighting that every departure created new opportunities.
Recruits are in the pipeline, although the club is not yet in a position to reveal who it has signed.
“The Dare boys, I’m not exactly sure what they’ve gone for,” Hammond said.
‘‘It’s very disappointing to lose them. They’re two of the best players in the league. Everyone would love them in your side.
‘‘It is a bit disappointing on behalf of the club.
“The positive is it gives another two people a go.
‘‘We’ve got plenty of depth at Cobden, which we showed this year.
“There were three under 18s who played in the reserves flag and the under 16s, even looking further, came runner-up in the league as well.
“We’ve got plenty of good footballers inside the club, but we’re always looking to bring in recruits as well.”
Brothers Brad and Michael Salmon, Tom Leishman, Ben Robertson and Angus Uwland are among footballers Hammond believes can play seniors in 2014.
They would join frontline talents Paul Hinkley, Paul Foster, Tim Horan and Sam Harkin, who have recommitted to the club.
“Josh Goonan — there’s one who only played half a dozen ressies games. To me he’s a gun,” Hammond said. He said Cobden had “done a lot” for the Dare brothers, interleague representatives who won three Maskell Medals between them.
He said while Colac was a good chance to push for GFL finals next season, Cobden was likewise in a strong position to chase a HFNL flag.
“What they have done is opened the door for some other people to have a go and have the opportunity of being an assistant coach and reap the rewards of what’s happened over the last two years,” he said.
“We think a lot of the Dare boys and the Dare family. We still get to keep their two younger brothers (Lincoln and Dominic) and Brody Mahoney, who travelled up with the boys.”
Levi Dare and Colac coach Paul Lynch failed to return calls yesterday.