THERE’S no doubt that the Goulburn City Swans are a club in a purple patch.
For the past few seasons, the Swans have dominated their competition. Last year, the Goulburn lads comfortably won the grand final with a 109-34 victory over long-time rivals the Cootamundra Blues.
And just like their local rugby counterparts, the Goulburn Dirty Reds, the Swans are seeking a new challenge and shifting up a gear next season.
They’ll move into the AFL Canberra third grade, along with long-time rivals Cootamundra and Yass.
Led by coach and last year’s winner of the league goal kicking award Heath Russell, the Swans will face a much tougher challenge.
Russell said that the club and playing group, led by last year’s League Best and Fairest Dale Cummins, were excited to move up in grades after their period of success over the past few seasons.
“I think we’re all pretty excited by the challenge that awaits us, and we’re keen to get started with preseason from Thursday afternoon,” Russell said.
“The playing group is certainly aiming and hoping to be competitive. We’ll surprise a few teams along the way, because we’re pretty unknown to most sides, apart from Yass and Cootamundra.”
A significant positive for the Swans is that the club has managed to retain the majority of last year’s flag-winning list, and while half a dozen players have hung up the boots or moved on, Russell has been busy recruiting.
Just recently, the Swans secured the services of Bill Reid from Queanbeyan and Mick Williams, a Narrandera Junior. It’s a return to home of sorts for Reid, who last played for the Swans in 2014, before heading to Queanbeyan last year, winning a first grade flag along the way.
While Russell expects a few more key signings over the coming weeks to bolster the squad, the coach said he believes many of the side’s younger players will bloom this season.
“We’ve got a number of young players, like Simon Treloar, Sam Buchanan, Matt Rath, Liam Halder and Toby Barton, among others, who will improve with experience this season,” Russell said.
“We’ve lost some experienced players in Jimmy Condylios, Steve Dawson, Grant Haigh and Adam Wilson, with more than 500 games experience between them. The Club would like to thank these boys for their years of service.
“We’ve also got the Astor Hotel back on board as a major sponsor, and we’ve certainly enjoyed a great first year in partnership with them.”
Training for the Swans kicks off tomorrow night at Goodhew Park from 5.30pm, and Russell encouraged any potential new players to come along and have a kick, regardless of experience.