WELCOME to the second edition of The Huddle, our new weekly football column.
Here The Standard discusses interesting tales from across the leagues as well as enjoying the lighthearted side of the game.
PASSIONATE Timboon Demons president Mick Hunt knows the signs at his Warrnambool and District league club point to a promising future.
Its senior and reserves football teams have just one win between them from the first seven rounds but its junior program is flying.
The Demons' under 18 footballers sit atop the ladder with a 6-1 record and an incredible percentage of 627 while their under 15 team is third with a 5-2 record.
But it's not the win-loss column which concerns Hunt.
The club's volunteers have returned, happy to fill umpiring, canteen and time-keeping roles, while playing numbers have improved to ensure all sides are filled on a Saturday after a number of forfeits in 2022.
"It is very positive across the club. We have a lot of volunteers that are back on board, sponsorship numbers are up," Hunt told The Standard.
"It's a step forward - we're doing 130-140 meals every Thursday night and I think that's testament to the mums and dads of the kids hanging around while the kids train and then they go in and have a feed, it creates an atmosphere.
"And we all know when things are slightly on the up, you can feel it and you can sense it.
"Committee numbers have been strong, our volunteer base has picked up unbelievably.
"I virtually now have options of people doing our meals on a Thursday night, our canteens on a Saturday, I'm yet to be stuck for an umpire, I'm yet to be stuck for somebody who wants to do the time-keeping."
Hunt, who can see changes to the WDFNL landscape in coming years, said the juniors' success was pleasing but was just one component of a strong club, pointing to the importance of numbers in senior football and netball grades.
"The results will come eventually in no matter what you do as long as you put the foundations down and make sure a club is strong," he said.
"A lot of things can change in the next period of time and you really want your club to have good backing, good support and money in the bank going forward to be able to do the things you want to do."
Two young Timboon Demons footballers - Mitch Wallace and Henry Stansfield - are providing a glimmer of light in a challenging season for its senior footballers too.
Demons co-coach Marcus Hickey said the pair were giving fans a reason to cheer.
"Mitch has played through the midfield and as an 18-year-old to step up against some of the big-bodied midfielders has been fantastic," he said.
"Henry has been across half-back and through the midfield as well so we have the next generation of midfielders building up."
The Hampden league's three most eastern clubs - Camperdown, Cobden and Terang Mortlake - combined for 17 of a possible 54 wins in 2022.
They've turned the tables this season with all three in finals contention after six rounds. The Bloods are undefeated, the Magpies have won four games and the Bombers three.
It's been a blessing for the league with rivals enjoying their newfound challenges.
Terang Mortlake coach Ben Kenna said there was a sense of intrigue surrounding the competition.
"I think the clubs that have been up there and probably had it on their own (terms) - your Souths, Norths and Koroits, I think they'd relish it anyway," he said after the Bloods' win against the Roosters on Saturday.
"I think it's healthy. It drives everyone to be better."
Port Fairy coach Dustin McCorkell, whose side has one win but has been competitive in all contests, is loving the competition's evenness.
"Every match is interesting at the moment," he said.
"You go into every match knowing you can win but you also know if you don't play at your best you're not going to win.
"The competition is in a pretty good spot because all the teams that were outside the five last year seemed to have improved and the teams towards the top are playing good footy as well."
It's the general consensus among all 10 senior coaches and has been a major talking point in the first six rounds as respective clubs plot a way to get the upper hand.
THINGS are going swimmingly for Terang Mortlake this season but it's not all smooth sailing.
The siren at Terang Recreation Reserve is in need of some love. It was a challenge to hear it on Saturday with some in the crowd quick to make a quip about whether the games had finished or not.
Sound was not an issue in the rooms after the Bloods' senior win with supporters belting out a rendition of happy birthday to celebrate midfielder Kane Johnstone's 21st.
THE more things change, the more they stay the same.
Former Dennington coach Ben Thornton will step into the role for the next few rounds in the absence of current mentor Leigh Anderson who is away.
The on-field leader stepped aside at the end of the 2022 Warrnambool and District league season but remains heavily involved as an assistant coach.
The two strongest sides in the Western Victoria Female Football League women's competition will go head-to-head on Sunday.
Ladder-leader South Warrnambool (6-0) and Tyrendarra (5-1) measure up well statistically.
The Roosters average 62 points for and the Darras 55 and both are stingy defensively with South letting 8.3 points through a game and Tyrendarra conceding 9.1.
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