Club set for better year
IT IS safe to say 2011 was a year Middlemount Panthers club president Steve Henderson would rather forget.
Plagued by injuries and a dwindling player base, it was a season of unfortunate firsts for the Central Highlands' most northern rugby league club.
"We had more major injuries than I have ever seen," Henderson said.
"And it was the first time in about 13 or 14 years that A-Grade forfeited a game."
But this year the club has put those bad memories out to pasture, with a renewed drive to reclaim the premiership winning glory of years gone by.
To that effect, the club has installed the Panthers' 2010 grand final winning coach Damian Devine as leading tactician in 2012.
There is also a little more impetus to take out this year's Central Highlands title, with the Middlemount club celebrating its 30-year anniversary.
The club is hoping to organise a home game swap with Peak Downs Pirates at the Tieri clubhouse in June to mark the 30-year anniversary.
Henderson said new season changes such as the shorter draw should meld well with players' work and family commitments.
"All the blokes are looking forward to the shorter season," he said. "It makes things a lot easier."
However, sourcing the playing contingent has in the past and, as the president expects, always will prove difficult.
Usually clubs rely on the more experienced junior players to step in and fill the ranks, but even that may be a problem for Middlemount.
"There doesn't seem to be that many players at that age for us to choose from," Henderson said.