I LOVE covering the variety of different sports we do here at the Riverine Herald — but there’s none I love more than football.
And here’s a way-too-early prediction; we are in for a bumper year of football in the Echuca-Moama region.
The three major leagues we cover — GVL, MFNL and HDFL — I think our local sides might just take out the lot.
It’s not a bold take to say Echuca is going to be a massive improver in 2018, but can it come from outside of finals all the way to a premiership?
The Murray Bombers wouldn’t be the first team to recruit heavily and bomb out, but some of these additions — Andrew Walker, Matt Dornauf, Nick Sheldon and Shaun Gannon with TAC Cup talents expected to follow — mean making finals is a non-negotiable.
If the list already full of young talent can harness its full potential, it should be thinking about going deep into September rather than merely being there.
But just as exciting are the goings-on at the other end of town; Echuca United.
The Eagles took a symbolic step forward in 2017 in playing finals for the first time in three years.
With a relatively inexperienced list and battling injuries throughout, it was a definite year of building.
Add to that a Goulburn Valley League captain, Jordan Florance, a seven-time Wimmera Football League premiership player, Jeremy Hartigan and a former VFL and TAC Cup talent, Leigh Sobotnicki, another boost is coming for the Eagles.
Guy Campbell brought premiership pedigree back to United and is committed to bringing through the talented young players, and you get a sense this is its year to win finals.
And across the river at Moama, the Magpies would be liking their chances of another finals run.
They’ve been quiet so far on the recruiting front after retaining a bunch of stars including Tyler Jones, Rhys Archard, Luke Dunham and Jake Hare.
But the Mowers have won at least one final the last three seasons and again have talented youth coming through after a fourth consecutive under 17s flag.
Don’t expect Moama to be falling off too far in 2018.
In the Heathcote League, Leitchville-Gunbower is the new benchmark and has held on to the vast majority of its premiership-winning list.
And while Lockington-Bamawm United struggled this year it welcomes back a club legend coach and some former gun players, as well as bolstering with GV experience.
LBU is the biggest unknown; it’s coming from a long way back but seems brilliantly poised to head back to finals.
How far will these teams go?
Who knows, but that’s why this coming football season is going to be so exciting.