Denmark footy club calls on seniors to help fill player shortages

A small West Australian footy team has had to ask senior players to front up for two games in an afternoon to make up for the shortfall of numbers on the park.

The Denmark Walpole Football Club has struggled to attract enough male recruits to the club this season and even forfeited the first round of the Great Southern Football League.

Last weekend five players had to run back onto the field for a second game in Mt Barker after there were only 14 reserve players available.

As a result, the club’s league side copped a 190-point thrashing from Mt Barker.

Hunt for players

Club president Tyrone Kennedy said after the launch of their season in April, the club realised it would struggle to field a side each week. 

Soon after officials started putting posters and signs around town appealing for new players to sign up.

While the town has good numbers in the women’s and the male under 16s and Colts, they are missing young men between the ages of 20 and 30 to fill the ranks of the senior male squads.

Denmark-Walpole Magpies have posted signs in a bid to attract more players.(ABC Great Southern: Mark Bennett)

The Magpie’s women’s team has been going from strength to strength, making the GSFLW grand final in just their third season.

“It’s been an ongoing issue for years in Denmark,” Mr Kennedy said.

“We’ve had the ability in the past to bring people in from either Perth or Albany, or from the Wheatbelt, but we’ve seen a bit of a perfect storm over the off-season with players leaving the district for various reasons.”

The former VFL player is a recent arrival to Denmark who got involved with the club to meet and make new friends.

He said the drop in interest was part of a wider issue affecting small country communities.

Country clubs struggling 

“We speak to other town clubs [in the Great Southern Football League] and there seems to be a bit of a steady decline,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Even as far as Victoria their country towns are sort of struggling for numbers in a few places.

“We see that as a bit of an issue with kids after high school leaving for work opportunities, or university or further education and then coming back with younger families later in life, maybe when they’re past their use by date in their late 30s and 40s.”

Each time his phone rings, Mr Kennedy hopes it’s someone wanting to come to training.

“We think footy clubs are important for young men to join and we think footy is pretty important for towns,” he said.

“The Denmark Walpole footy club [has] got a long history. I think we’ll sort of scrape through as we have been, so we’ll just push on as best we can.”

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