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Tough times

CARNGHAM-LINTON president Sam Richardson is open to thoughts of a merger as the club struggles to deal with life in the Central Highlands Football League.
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The Saints, which have actively lobbied the league’s board for structural change to the 18-team competition in recent years, are set for another toughcampaign as the senior squad battleswith numbers andqualityahead of season 2016.

Richardson said no official discussions have been held with potential merger clubs, but he didn’t rule it out as an option should things get worsedown the track.

“An amalgamation scenario is certainly a better option than going out the door,” Richardson told The Courier.

“You wouldconsider anything before you lost your footy club.”

Richardson admitted he had concerns about the club’s ability to field senior and reserves football sides this season, but those havebeen alleviated with an increase in players on the track in recent weeks.

Richardson said the club’s on-field predicament was as bad as it has been since Carngham and Linton amalgamated in 1969.

The Saints won just two games last year in a 17th-placed finish to the campaign. And with a number of key departures already confirmed for thisseason, things appear tough forfirst-year coachAaron Braeckmans.

“Certainly 2015 would be the toughest year on field that we put in since those first couple of years since the 1969-70 era,” he said.

“This one is going to be reasonably tough as well…”

Potential merger options could include former Lexton Plains rivals Skipton and Smythesdale, which arenearby and have also struggled with on-field success since joining the competition in 2011.

In fact, no team from the defunct Lexton Plains league has featured in a seniorfinals series, with the four sides –including Rokewood-Corindhap –filling the bottom spots on the ladder at the end of season 2015.

Richardson said Carngham-Linton was stable and financialoff-field, but admitted the move to the Central Highlands ranks had been “tough”.

“From purely a player base, we’re much worse off than when we first came in (to the Central Highlands) –numbers and quality,” he said.

Richardson said there would be big ramifications if the club was to go into recess.

“You do it because you just know what the consequences are from a community point of view if you lose your footy club,” he said.

“Towns become ghost towns to a certain extent.”

Carngham-Linton has been active in its pursuit for change to the structure of the competition and last year resubmitted a proposal it first lodged in2012.

The club’s push was for the league tosplit geographically to form two conferences, but it was not met by much support from fellow Central Highlands clubs.

“In reality and while I’mpresident, Iwon’t be gong back trying it (the submission) again,” Richardson said.

“We got a reasonablehearing and stuff like that, but the other clubs didn’t see it that way…”

Richardsoninvited footballers or netballers to come and help the club in 2016.

He can be contacted on0418 856047, while Braeckmans can be reached on 0411 836 885 for more information.

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