OPINION: Andrew Johnston

By Andrew Johnston

KYABRAM footy is all about breaking records.

Just look at the Bombers and their 75-1 run in the past three and a bit seasons.

Then, casting your eyes around the Kyabram District Football League, you find Ardmona.

Also a record breaker, also in their own right.

Just not one that will hold a place of celebration in the club’s proud history. Who makes a song and a dance about losing 47 straight matches (and the only reason your record isn’t worse is because your senior side sat out 2017)?

On a near weekly basis a 200- or even 300-point drubbing has become painfully routine.

At the weekend, Ardmona’s footballers made their way back into the headlines after their clash with Stanhope.

Across their seniors and reserves they scored a combined total of two points.

And conceded 608.

No team has struggled quite like the hapless Cats.

You could be forgiven for treating the club as a joke – but when you stop and think about it there is (as there always is) another side to the story.

Because if you were to put yourself in the place of any one of the club’s shell-shocked players, be honest: would you be turning up for training – in the cold, dark and increasingly wet – twice a week?

Then maintain that enthusiasm until the weekend when you turn out for four-quarters of pain that you knew was coming.

You would have to go a long way to find a better example of pride in the club, in the team colours and in the history of the club.

It’s not just the winners who win respect.

Seriously, how can you not respect this group of players who are still there after what they go through week after week, year after year?

I’ve seen it up close and personal in the Girgarre magoos when we have played Ardmona.

As a professional sticky beak, I couldn’t resist asking the players I was standing how they do it. They admitted they wanted things to be going better – but were adamant they wouldn’t be turning their backs on the club.

“It’s not easy, but I still love playing footy,” I was told by one of their players.

You’ve gotta love that attitude.

And I think the whole competition has developed a love for Ardmona.

If not love; definitely respect.

Following Saturday’s match, Stanhope coach Cobey Aynsley could only praise the resilience of the opposition.

“You have to give credit to the Ardmona boys, they never stopped trying or gave up,” he said.

It’s a sentiment being increasingly voiced throughout the KDFL — few clubs will ever have a time as trying as this.

I don’t know how many of us could turn up like they do; I’m not sure I could.

So, in the spirit of Cinderella teams, do things get better for Ardy any time soon?

Probably not.

But that’s not going to stop them showing up, playing their game (for some of them playing two, even three, games a weekend because of numbers).

And that is something you have to respect more than a scoreline.

■Andrew Johnston is a Riverine Herald journalist and reserves player for the Girgarre Football Club