Few clubs in the Mininera and District Football League have challenged for the premiership as consistently as Tatyoon Football Netball Club in recent years.
The Herald Sun recently named Tatyoon as one of the 20 best country football teams of the millennium, noting they had reached the grand final in 12 of the last 14 seasons.
In 2019, Tatyoon narrowly missed the grand final, falling to Penshurst in the preliminary final.
But the club has recruited several players since they last took the field.
The new faces include former Ararat Football Netball Club player Ryan Bates and ex-Royal Park Football Club players Zac Tunbridge and Ben Clay. Steven Nicholson also returns to the club.
Senior team coach Jarrod Blandford said while he was excited to see the new players in action, he was aware it might take some time for the team to reach its peak.
"With new players coming to the club and players returning it's going to take us a while to find our feet but we'll try and play attacking footy and take the game on," he said.
However, after the hardships of 2020, Blandford said there was an added emphasis on creating a positive atmosphere.
"It's definitely more about the social interaction and people just being able to have a kick with their mates. It's a lot more than just being about winning a game of football that's for sure," he said.
"As long as everyone enjoys themselves both on and off the field the games will take care of themselves but we'd like to be up the pointy end of the ladder come the end of the season."
Blandford said having football return was not only crucial to the players but also the wider community.
"We don't have much else at Tatyoon, so if you don't have your sporting clubs going it makes it difficult for people to interact," he said.
Club president David Carter agreed that while the team was hoping for on-field success, it was no longer the priority.
"We'd be keen to make finals, but I don't want to put any pressure on the boys. We just want to enjoy the season, if we're successful, that's just another bonus," he said.
"There's a fair bit of excitement around the club and the players are keen to get out and socialise again."
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