The proud history of Horsham United lives on 24 kilometres west of their old home ground, after they came together with Natimuk in 2014 to successfully orchestrate a crucial amalgamation.
United - or the "Horsham RSL Diggers" as they became known in 2012 - were struggling to stay afloat as the 2014 season was fast approaching.
The Diggers had won four consecutive wooden spoons in the Wimmera Football League, and their last president Peter Miller said player numbers were dwindling.
"We had had bad years before and bounced back from them, but you could see this time that there was no turning back," Miller said.
"Our club was viable ... we were still firmly in the positive money-wise when we finished, but it was just simply the numbers. We were struggling for senior and junior footballers."
Miller said the club had struggled with some of their best players getting poached by rival clubs.
"I think what hurt us was we lost a bunch of our best talent at once, and all of a sudden it got really hard," Miller said.
"We were constantly competing with clubs offering money to our players ... and when your team aren't winning any games and are down the bottom, the grass starts to look a little greener at a different club.
"Once you're down, it's hard to get back up again."
Miller said the club's problem with player retention could be traced back three decades to when the club - then known as Imperials-Wonwondah - moved from the Horsham District to the Wimmera league.
"We never really had a strong family-based group of players, because when we moved away from the district league, we had to plug up a lot of holes," Miller said.
"We had to find a fair few Wimmera league quality players, so we recruited a few and it was a bit hard to establish a base."
The issue was perhaps best encapsulated by the mass exodus of players after their 1988 premiership.
"I mean we were certainly successful, we won a flag six years after we joined the league," Miller said.
"But even then, in that team there weren't a lot of genuine local players. We won the flag but the following year we only had two or three players left from the premiership side. Chris Friend and I think Gary Jelly were still there, but everyone else left."
As things became dire prior to the 2014 season, discussions of a merger with Pimpinio or Kalkee fell through, before Natimuk chairman Andrew Carine reached out.
"It was sort of a last minute thing," Natimuk's Russell Potter said.
"We thought United were going to go with Pimpinio, so it was pretty last minute when we approached them.
"Andrew was the biggest driver behind it - it wouldn't have happened without him. He approached United and brought it up to the committee.
"Of course some older people were dead against it, but Andrew said we should seriously consider it. He was looking around and saw that we were light on volunteers, money and that sort of thing. I think a merge was the smart thing to do before we found ourselves in a worse position."
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The merger talks quickly gained momentum, and on Wednesday February 19, members from both clubs voted in favour and the merger was made official.
More than 80 per cent of Natimuk members and almost 97 per cent of Horsham United members voted in favour of amalgamation.
While former Horsham United players - such as Damian Cameron, Josh Mibus, Tim Wade, Jae McGrath and Luke Chamberlain - have since proven to be some of the Wimmera's premier footballers, they had either already departed or decided not to follow the club to Natimuk after the merge.
"We probably only went out there with four or five senior-quality players," Miller said.
"A lot of them just weren't prepared to play District league yet. They considered themselves Wimmera league players, and rightly so.
"Basically we took a great big cheque, some really valuable volunteers and not much else."
Potter said despite the lack of senior footballers, the lasting benefit of the merger came off the field.
"Probably the biggest thing we got out of it was Ruth and Jerry McCallum who had been volunteering at United for 20 odd years and have been here ever since," Potter said.
"Even if we didn't get anything else out of the merger except those two, it would have been worth it. They're fantastic club people."
While the merged club played games at United's old home ground, and played their traditional Anzac day match for two more seasons, both concepts have since fallen by the wayside. Potter was hopeful the Anzac day fixture could return.
"Now we've got the lights at Natimuk, we're hoping we can play the Anzac day game out there some time in the future," Potter said.
"It's important to get back to something like that to recognise the United roots."
While playing numbers didn't immediately transfer across to the newly formed club, Natimuk Showgrounds Management Committee member Travis Maybery said he was hopeful former Horsham United players would consider returning to the club.
"It's great that guys like Matthew Williams and Liam Offer have come back this year," Maybery said.
"It would be great to have a couple of blokes like that come back and to keep encouraging those blokes to come back."
In addition, current coach Sam Anson played for Horsham United during much of his junior football career.
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Miller said while the club had understandably become more Natimuk than Horsham United, he was just pleased to see his beloved club live on.
"I understand that Natimuk is the stronger of the partners in the deal ... but that's fine," Miller said.
"I do appreciate what they've done to keep us alive. Our honour boards are up on the wall there and that's all we really wanted. We didn't want to be forgotten because we've got a proud history."