Natimuk United: Merger the 'right decision'

HORSHAM RSL Diggers and Natimuk football and netball clubs have entered a new era after their members voted to amalgamate on Wednesday night.

The clubs will form the Natimuk United Football Netball Club and will play in the Horsham District Football League competition.

More than 80 per cent of Natimuk members voted in favour of the merger, while almost 97 per cent of Horsham RSL Diggers members voted to amalgamate.

About 60 members attended a meeting at the Natimuk pavilion, while about 40 Diggers members attended a meeting at their Horsham City Oval clubrooms.

Diggers president Peter Miller said there were no surprises in the vote.

The result was do-or-die for the Diggers, who faced going into recess due to a lack of players.

“I’m very happy,” Mr Miller said.

“I can only see it as being a great opportunity for us now, to form a great club together with Natimuk and have some genuine success.

“There’s plenty of passion for what we’re doing and the direction we’re going in.”

“There’s plenty of passion for what we’re doing and the direction we’re going in.” - Diggers president Peter Miller

Natimuk chairman Andrew Carine was also happy with the result.

He said Wednesday night’s meeting was a lot more positive than a merger information session hosted by the club last week.

“That one was a bit more hostile,” Mr Carine said.

“Some people just don’t like change, but it’s a sign of the times. 

“I think you’re going to see more and more clubs going down this road sooner or later.”

The new entity will be based at Natimuk but will play some games at Horsham City Oval.

The club will keep Natimuk’s nicknames, the Rams and the Ewes, and will retain the Diggers’ long established history of playing an Anzac Day match.

Natimuk United is scheduled to play Harrow-Balmoral at Harrow on April 25.

New Wimmera and Horsham District Football League draws have been released.

Both draws were revised after the Diggers informed Wimmera Football League the side would not participate in the 2014 season, regardless of the outcome of the merger.

Mr Carine said Anzac Day matches would alternate between Harrow and Horsham City Oval.

He said Natimuk United would continue to have a connection with Horsham.

The Diggers are in the process of negotiating the sale of their clubrooms with Horsham Rural City Council.

They are also looking to establish a training base in Horsham.

Jumpers

Mr Carine said players would wear both Natimuk and Diggers jumpers for the first season.

“We won’t alternate them but we’ll work out some kind of schedule,” he said.

“It’ll probably be a little strange, but we’re looking at a new strip down the track.”

Mr Carine said more details would be worked out in the coming weeks.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do to get ready for the start of the season,” he said. 

“We’re going to have to act quickly to organise membership and secure our sponsors.

“A lot of people have put a lot of work into this merger, but the hard work really starts now.”

Mr Miller said the clubs would host their first joint board meeting on Sunday.

“Andrew will still be the chairman – they have already sorted their office bearers,” he said.

“We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, we just want to be part of the act.

“I’ll join the committee. I think most of our committee members will be on the new committee this year.”

Mr Miller said the Diggers made the right decision.

“We were in merger talks with more than one club and merging wasn’t our only option,” he said.

“We have plenty of people who are loyal and dedicated and if we had just shut the doors we would have done the wrong thing by them.

“It’s up to the executive to make sure those people have a home to go to and that that place feels like home.

“You’re never going to please everyone, but almost 97 per cent of members voted for it – it’s a pretty clear message that this is what we needed to do.”

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