SPARE a thought for the job Winis Imbi and his coaching staff are doing at Port Fairy.
On the surface, it'd be easy to say it's had a rough start to the campaign. Results-wise, it has. It has an average losing margin of 134 points from its first two rounds.
Bear in mind one of those was a 202-point blowout so it's not necessarily the most accurate number. But there's a fair bit to consider before labelling the Seagulls simply as a basket case.
A bigger sample size of games will give us a clearer indication of where things sit.
But footy isn't always as simple as good team, bad team. There's so much grey area and to neglect context is irresponsible and often paints an inaccurate picture.
The club is trying to do the right thing in creating a sustainable, strong culture and Imbi is driving that.
It's integrating with its netball program and is bringing about a whole-of-club approach.
We know we can match it with the best teams, we've just got to be able to sustain it.- George Swarbrick
A good off-field culture is simply the only thing which generates on-field results long-term.
So, props for that. Gone are the days of just bringing in players for short-term success, something the club previously felt was necessary to compete due to its geographical location.
The club recruited well in the off-season in bringing Kaine Mercovich - a Port Fairy lad - back to the fold as well as another former player in Tom Sullivan.
In 2022, apart from the odd exception, it's bloody tough to bring in new faces and that strategy is really the only viable way to improve a list from players outside your club.
You might say that's all well and good, but when do they start winning games of footy?
The answer to that is simple: when they start getting good players back from injury. The Seagulls have had horrible luck and have three of their key onballers - Andy McMeel, Kurt Smith and Isaac Martin - out in the early stages of the season.
Defender Matt Sully is another who hasn't yet suited up. It's hard enough when you're a rebuilding side, as Port Fairy is under Imbi, but having your engine room basically decimated makes life even harder.
McMeel, Smith, Martin, Mercovich.
That's an impressive selection of talent. If they can get those four players on the park for a stint, I can't see the Seagulls staying winless all season.
As players George Swarbrick and Darcy Smith told The Standard this week at training, the focus was very much on "building their own craft".
"It's more that than worrying about what the opposition is doing. We've got a few fundamental things that we've been working on (structures), a few things Winis has been putting together," Swarbrick said.
"It matters to us, playing our own game. We're just trying to build on the season, making sure we're always improving as a team and individually.
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"There's a few structures we've been working towards and just getting the young guys to buy in to that on a team mentality level. As older heads we're just trying to guide them a little bit."
Swarbrick said the side had confidence their best footy could match it with the Hampden league's big boys.
"I think in the first 15 minutes against North Warrnambool in round one, I reckon we were in front," he said.
"We know we can match it with the best teams, we've just got to be able to sustain it."
That's not to say Port Fairy doesn't have a mountain of work ahead. It has to keep players committed, interested and morale high if it is to get a few results and rebuild properly.
But for now, Winis and staff, you're doing a good job in very tough circumstances.
Stick it out.
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