ARARAT Eagles players say they will hold their heads high and commit to playing out the 2019 Mininera league season.
In what has been a tough season for the club - which started with a crisis meeting three weeks out from round one to avoid recession - some players say they can still find positives about the game.
Talking through the 509 point loss against Great Western, assistant coach Brohdie Smyth said he felt the first two quarters were still free-flowing, despite the scoreboard difference.
"They had a lot of the ball. We had our hands on the ball but we couldn't match them in terms of skills," he said.
"They are a well-drilled team. Will Bell (coach) has them playing as a tight-knit group."
Smyth said he felt Bell did everything he could to even up the game.
"He didn't have to pull players off the ground to match our numbers," he said.
"They really could of put the foot down and broken the all-time record if he wanted to.
"We got lucky. Will is a really good bloke and all of the people at Great Western had respect for us getting out onto the ground."
Smyth said talks around the football community about Great Western should have shown more "mercy" towards the Eagles isn't something the club was looking for.
"It would not have made a single difference," he said.
"Showing us mercy as some have called for, it might have stemmed the bleeding a little bit but there was no coming back from where we were at.
"I wouldn't expect any team to take it easy on us, that's not how football is played."
Eagles will take on Glenthompson-Dunkeld, SMW Rovers, Woorndoo Mortlake and Caramut in the run home to the end of the season.
"Three teams we will come up against in the last four rounds are a chance to play finals," Smyth said.
"They'll be looking at their run home to finals and wanting to play the best football they can.
"We don't want them to go easy on us. We don't want a team to miss finals on percentage."
Smyth has racked up 50 club games, in the two-and-a-half years since he joined the Eagles.
"Those games certainly came around very quickly since I've played two games each week," he said.
"It takes a toll on your body. Going back to work on Monday it's hard.
"Come Tuesday, after doing the right recovery I'm generally feeling pretty good."
Smyth said moving forward from the attention of last week's game shouldn't be a problem.
"Everyone's spirits are still high. We're all just wanting to see the club continue and to play the game we love," he said.
"Being a home game this week I would think we would get a few extra numbers on the field.
"After last weekend I would hope it sends a message out to everyone that we need the support - both on and off the field."
Oakley Taylor notched up 100 games for the Ararat Eagles in round 12 against Hawkesdale-Macarthur.
Playing in both reserves and seniors, the 23-year-old enjoyed the first win in football for the club in the reserves for his 99th game.
Taylor said he felt proud to run out for the milestone, considering the situation the club was at the start of the season.
"It was good to run out there for my 100th game," he said.
"It was a struggle at the start of the year but a few of us tied together to help get some players on the ground.
"I've played two games nearly every week for a number of years which is tough. But at the end of the day, the club is putting two sides on the park and that's all that matters."
Taylor said he has never considered the thought of playing anywhere else but the Eagles.
"I don't see myself leaving the Eagles," he said.
"It's a great club to be part of, both on and off the field.
"We are struggling, like so many clubs. I just hope people jump on board and give us a hand next year and beyond.
"The last thing we want to do is give up at any stage. We just have to try and keep everyone's heads up and move forward."
Ararat Eagles president Nats McRoberts said he appreciated the support shown towards the club in recent weeks but wanted to highlight a bigger issue.
"Country footy is struggling but like true country spirit, we all band together when the chips are down," he said.
"I believe it's time for the AFL and AFL Vic Country to step up and take on the same attitude.
"I call out those claims country footy is in a good state."
Mr McRoberts said he didn't think the Eagles players would expect any favouritism towards them.
"Three weeks prior to the season starting we very nearly went into recess," he said.
"For our club to achieve what it did in that short period, in getting teams on the park, was a monumental effort.
"We are very proud of our lads that step up week in week out and to those who play two games."
Mr McRoberts said he wanted to highlight the assistance show from the Great Western Football Club on the day which has drawn controversy.
"They supplied us players in the reserves, supplied boundary umpires, took players off the ground when we were down to 12 men in the seniors, acknowledging our boys when they left the field at the conclusion of the game and shouting them a few beers in the rooms afterwards," he said.
"At the end of the day, the score was not as important as the comradeship after the game was.
"Every club in the Mininera and District Football League so far this year has been very supportive, we thank you and appreciate it."
Junior footballers Nate and Malachi cannot wait until they are old enough to run out on the field and play for the Ararat Eagles.
Both players play for the 'Eaglets' the under-12 team which go up against opposition club's junior teams.
"We come to training every Wednesday night and train and eat food," they said.
"We're trying to get some more players to come and play with us.
"It's heaps of fun and we play because our dads play."
Nate said he believed the Eagles were the best team in the world.
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