Another season has come and gone for most of the teams in the Murray Football League.
While a number of sides remain in contention for the ultimate glory, those who missed out on finals will healthily celebrate the year that was before turning an eye towards what is needed to find more success in their next campaign.
As always, Musings HQ has you covered when it comes to analysing what went right and wrong this year for the vanquished outfits and assessing what is required during summer from each unit.
This week we delve into the seasons of the football teams which did not extend their campaigns past round 20.
Record: 15th, 2-16.
Highlight: A hard-fought win against Tungamah in round 19 — where the young Rams trailed by 15 points at the final change — will remain fresh in the memories of the players as they battle through the grind of another pre-season.
Lowlight: The Rams kicked just one goal in two matches this season, but unlike the round nine loss to Mulwala where Deniliquin had 11 scoring shots, it only managed two in the round four 123-point loss to Barooga.
Musings: Deniliquin is a team which should experience significant growth next season, with stars of the future like Sam Willoughby and Sid Pearn set to lead the way. The Rams did exactly what they needed to and signed coaches (Troy Bartlett and Sam Hall) for next year well ahead of time, and the duo will allow superstar Todd Gallagher to get back to his best football without the extra pressure of coaching.
Record: 14th, 3-15.
Highlight: A pair of wins against original Murray Football League outfits Deniliquin and Tongala aside, Katandra’s round 13 upset against Shepparton East will stand as a strong beacon for the season of promise that was.
Lowlight: The Kats would have wanted to finish the campaign much better than a 62-point loss to Mulwala.
Musings: Katandra’s competitiveness in the Murray ranks certainly impressed this columnist this season. After coming off a tough campaign last year it could have been another long season for the Kats, but the entire group dug deep to acquit themselves well. What the side needs to do is hold on to all of its young stars — like Corey Hickford, Xavier Chalkley and Will Jeffery — and add another couple of seasoned physiques into the mix. That will hold them in good stead no matter which league they end up in.
Record: 13th, 5-13.
Highlight: Defeating Mulwala in round two was a massive feather in the cap for Tongala.
Lowlight: A loss to Katandra in round 18 was not the tonic the Blues needed as they head into another season of rebuilding.
Musings: The best thing the Blues could have done is signed Jordan Souter up for another season. The fact that the superstar is also retaining the coaching reins will further help the young group galvanise around its leader. If the Blues can add consistency to their game style it will certainly help them capitalise on the upset victories they are sure to secure next season.
Record: 12th, 5-13.
Highlight: A round 15 triumph against Moama was exactly the kind of football the Bears group is capable of producing when they are all on the park.
Lowlight: The fact that the Bears then lost five games in a row to finish the season will not sit well with the team, especially the penultimate-round defeat at the hands of the Rams.
Musings: Tungamah’s campaign was certainly interesting to say the least. Injuries to key players crippled the outfit early, but after missing finals by just three games losses to Shepparton East (twice), Echuca United, and Deniliquin certainly cruelled their chances of post-season action. The first item on the agenda for the Bears is to secure a home for next year, because whether they land in a Murray second division or back in the Picola ranks should shape their recruiting drive and pre-season fitness regime.
Record: 11th, 5-13.
Highlight: Moama Recreation Reserve has not been a place of joy for Congupna in recent times, so a massive win against the Magpies in enemy territory in round nine was a huge step forward for the club.
Lowlight: Nine losses in a row to finish the year was not the sort of finish a rebuilding club would want.
Musings: The Road certainly improved this season, but they need to find a killer instinct in close games. Of the nine matches they lost to finish the year, four were by 13 points or less. Hanging on to star midfielder BJ Squire and Murray Bushranger Jimmy Boyer are also key targets for David Gee during summer.
Record: 10th, 6-12.
Highlight: Finishing as the best ex-Picola league club was just rewards for the Eagles, who were right in the hunt for finals action until late in the season.
Lowlight: The club would not have enjoyed its round 13 loss to Katandra at all.
Musings: The message from the Eagles’ camp is that they want to remain in the Murray ranks, and this columnist believes that is the best way forward for the club. With a group of players who prepared for a Picola league season, Shepparton East performed exceptionally well this season, and would only get stronger on the bigger grounds of its new home competition next year.
Record: 9th, 8-10.
Highlight: With their backs to the wall the Magpies rose to the challenge and knocked off Numurkah in round 16 — a fantastic result for the club.
Lowlight: Just a few weeks after downing the Blues, Moama was non-competitive on the scoreboard against Cobram in a 95-point defeat — the third time it had scored less than 30 points for the year.
Musings: Luke Eldridge has big shoes to fill when it comes to replacing outgoing coach Mark Lloyd, but will want to make his own mark on the group with a strong recruiting season. If the Magpies can hold on to their youth this summer — after losing a large chunk of talent after last year — they will start next season ahead of the eight-ball.