After five years in recess, the Deniliquin Wanderers are back.
The local soccer club has joined forces with Moama-Echuca Border Raiders to compete in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League in 2017.
Under the temporary merger, Wanderers players will register as Moama-Echuca players and the home games will be split between Moama Recreation Reserve and Deniliquin’s Rotary Park.
The side will wear Raiders colours when playing in Moama, and Deniliquin jumpers when at Rotary Park.
‘‘The Raiders have been more than accommodating for us,’’ Wanderers president Mathew Crothers said.
‘‘It’s a positive move for both clubs and will hopefully lead to a bigger interest from players in Deni to join up.
‘‘At the moment we have about 40 players on the books ranging from under 18s, women, and Division One and Division Two level men’s players.’’
The ultimate goal is for Deniliquin to play in the Bendigo league as its own club in the future, Crothers added.
‘‘We’ve spent the last few years playing in the pre-season competition and have held our own,’’ Crothers said.
‘‘Most of us have previously played for Moama as well so we already have a great relationship with them.’’
Moama-Echuca Border Raiders president Darryl Brown, who is also the league’s vice president, said Deniliquin looked to enter the league in 2016 merging with Swan Hill.
‘‘Even though it didn’t work out last year it’s something the league has wanted to see in strengthening its own competition,’’ Brown said.
‘‘It means adding more travel, but our players are getting used to that.’’
Brown said the Raiders and Wanderers have had a relationship for close to 15 years and talks of a merge had been ongoing for some months.
‘‘Our (Raiders) numbers are slightly down from the previous season,’’ Brown said.
‘‘We lost a lot of senior players for various reasons.
‘‘Deniliquin have wanted to play in the league for some time but didn’t have the numbers; so it’s an important boost for both of us.’’
The two clubs met on Tuesday night to discuss a 12-month partnership which Brown assured would be 50/50 beginning with alternating trainings together once a fortnight.
He hoped it would give Deniliquin a chance to recover its member base ahead of next year by which time the junior Moama-Echuca players would be looking to enter the senior line-up.
‘‘Our women’s team has a lot of young girls in it and at this stage has around 12 or 13 girls named,’’ said Brown, who expects another two or three to sign up before the season commences.
‘‘We have some good youth players coming through that will be the bulk of our division one in a few years.’’
~ with Riverine Herald