Had the Horsham District Football Netball League season finished after just two rounds Edenhope-Apsley would have been pretty pleased with their season.
Unfortunately, that was not the case and after winning their first two games the side went winless across the remaining ten rounds.
The Saints would naturally be disappointed with 2021 after making a preliminary final in 2019, however, it's not all doom and gloom; the side faced significant hurdles just to put a team on the park week-in week-out.
"We started the year off with a really good team that we were confident that we could make the top five with, but unfortunately just circumstances with injury and unavailability changed that a little bit," Edenhope-Apsley coach Guy Smith said.
"Unfortunately we went into a bit of a performance slump because we just didn't have the quality of player on the park anymore."
Like a lot of clubs the Saints' proximity to the South Australian border meant Edenhope-Apsley lost players due to the constantly changing restrictions imposed on those going between Victoria and SA.
"That threw a real spanner in the works," Edenhope-Apsley coach Guy Smith said of the border troubles.
"In the end, we had to pretty much clear all our Adelaide-based players back to South Australia just because it was too inconsistent."
Despite the results, on-field Smith believed his side had learned plenty from the season.
"We haven't been getting the wins but geez we've been competitive," he said.
"We've been trying our guts out and they've been really good and stuck to the team plans that I've been trying to get across to them.
"I think personally as footballers they've really improved as well."
As expected, Smith pointed to the Kealy brothers, Jeremy and Bernard, as being outstanding contributors on and off the field for the Saints in 2021. Throughout all the uncertainty of the season, Jeremy played all 12 games, while Bernard only missed one.
"The Kealy brothers have been fantastic, they've really held the side together really well," he said.
"Obviously them being the local guys, they're professional with their approach to footy. They've been absolute saviours for the playing group, they've kept them going and led from the front.
Smith was also full of praise for assistant coach George Walker, who he said has "had to play pretty much on one leg all year".
Ahead of next year, Smith said the Saints already have "things in plan".
"We just need our quality locals back playing with us so that's the primary target," he said.
"Realistically in the Edenhope-Apsley area, there are some severely talented players from that area that are living and working away, so our target is to try and get them back to their home club and keep the Edenhope-Apsley brand rolling over."
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