For Powelltown, the COVID-19 year proved to be a blessing in disguise.
It was an opportunity for them to shake things up, according to Club President Geoff Mooney.
“At the end of 2019, we had a look at where we were, our positives and negatives, and what we could do to make it better,” he said.
“We didn’t want to be a club that should’ve, could’ve but haven’t. We didn’t want to be playing finals but not getting over the line.
“So, we had a look internally at what we were doing right and wrong and then COVID hit, and that was perfect for us.”
The Demon’s first point of call was to appoint a new coach.
“Once we decided to start looking for a new coach we set our standards really high,” Mooney said.
In August, the club announced former Wandin and Park Orchards coach Jarrod Bayliss as their new coach, and have been thrilled with his initial impact on the Club.
“Jarrod is very experienced in where he’s been, what he’s done,” Mooney said.
“He’s coached a premiership side, captained a premiership side. He’s set some great standards, I can’t fault him.
“His leadership on and off-field has been outstanding.
Rounding out the new 2021 coaching panel is former Richmond defender Kelvin Moore, Daniel King, who has crossed over from Wandin and Josh Taylor, who’s had experience at both Wandin and Emerald.
“It’s all new and it’s exciting. We know they’ve all been there before and they’ve taught everyone to go up another level in terms of what they can do as players,” Mooney said.
“It’s an open book and it’s a whole new ball game.
“We’’ll strive to make finals and then we’ll go from there.”
Next on the Club’s agenda was off-season recruitment.
Again, they didn’t dissapoint, bringing in the likes of former Gold Coast and Carlton player and Top 10 draft pick Daniel Gorringe, Wandin and Park Orchards premiership forward Michael Fowkes, and Rhys Chapman (Thornton/Eildon and Wandin).
“Jarrod’s brought some guys with him, and we’ve also got some players that have previously been at the club and returned, which is really exciting,” Mooney said.
“We always leave the door open. It’s one big family.”
“(Gorringe) has been a breath of fresh air, he’s fitted in well with the group and the experience he’s brought has been invaluable.”
The club’s netball sides have also changed things up ahead of the 2021 season, welcoming Hayley Debuf, formerly of Healesville, to take on A-Grade coaching duties.
“She’s brought a lot of experience and fitness,” Mooney said.
“When you watch the girls train you can tell they’re fit. It’s exciting to watch and they’ve really embraced having someone like Hayley.
“This is the first time we haven’t had an in-house coach.”
Following a successful pre-season, Mooney was bullish about what the Demons could achieve on the netball court this season.
“We’ve got really good numbers and a good bunch of girls,” Mooney said.
“We’ve got four teams and we’re strong in numbers.
“In 2019, three of our teams made finals, including our B Grade making the Grand Final but falling short.
“We’re hoping all four teams can play finals this year.”
Powelltown, who celebrated its 100th year in 2019, opens its 2021 season this Saturday against local rival Warburton Millgrove for the first time in history.
Prior to their merging in 1967, the clubs of Warburton and Millgrove both last played against Powelltown in 1965. Powelltown’s last victory against Millgrove came in 1955, while its most recent victory over Warburton was in 1956.