The Long Way Back

Games aren’t won on paper.

It’s a common catchphrase in footy circles and one that couldn’t ring truer for Coleambally.

Following a resurgent 2019 season that saw the Blues return to finals competition for the first time since the 2016 Grand Final, as well as a litany of signings from reputable competitions far and wide, the Blues were pegged by many as contenders in the Farrer League’s return season.

Among the signings, key forward Jade Hodge, who unfortunately for the Blues has been among the few healthy players for the club in disappointing start to the season.

“We’ve had some challenges with injuries,” Hodge conceded.

“We just can’t seem to get our full team on the park and haven’t had a game with our best side yet, which is a challenge in of itself”

The Blues currently find themselves languishing at seventh on the ladder, two games out of the finals picture and with just a solitary win against last placed Temora to their name.

Upcoming games against the Barellan and the Northern Jets present an opportunity for the luckless club to mount an assault on an unlikely finals berth and Hodge isn’t mincing his words about the fortnight ahead.

“If we’re fair dinkum, we need to win them. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

You can’t hide from it. These are conversations we’re having internally and the reality is if we want to give ourselves an opportunity, we need to win these two games.

We need to make a run soon or we’re going to make our run too late. If we can scrape into finals, I certainly think we’ll be better off for overcoming the issues we’re facing but it’s a long way back.”

But a goal without a plan is merely a pipedream, and the former Leeton-Whitton coach turned Blues spearhead believes there are ample areas of improvement if the eventual run is to become a reality.

“Decision making has been a problem,” he admitted.

When we make that decision, we’re probably doing it a little too slowly and not pulling the trigger when we should.

It’s one thing to put a gameplan in place, and we think we have a good one, but our execution has been to a point where we haven’t even been able to get it going”

Hodge has been a bright spot in an otherwise dim first half of the season.

14 goals from five matches has been a solid return for the forward, but it’s the defensive side of the game that has caused the greatest headaches.

Marrar’s James Lawton ran rampant with 12 goals against the Blues last week, and in a Farrer League brimming with forward talent, the lack of pressure will only yield similar results if left unaddressed.

“We don’t defend for long enough or consistently enough and that shows on the scoreboard because at the moment we’re a side that gets scored against heavily and concedes goals pretty quickly.”

Whether or not the Blues have the capability – let alone the healthy players – to turn the season around remains to be seen but this weekend’s clash with Barellan has all the makings of an unheralded classic, in what is quickly becoming one of the earliest ‘do or die’ clashes the Farrer League has seen in years.