It has been a bleak few years on the field for the Yarroweyah Football Netball Club, but one man who has been a beacon of light in tumultuous times is the club’s star centre half-forward, Andrew Jones.
After arriving at the club as an excited 10-year-old, and with the Jones name steeped in Yarroweyah tradition — his father Bill is a former player and is currently club president — it has been a roller-coaster ride for the young man who is very much the face of the Hoppers’ new direction as a club.
Accustomed to playing in finals as a junior, Jones played in six preliminary finals but was never able to win a premiership.
His obvious talent saw him playing senior football at the age of 17; now, aged 21, he is still yet to taste premiership glory.
Copping hidings on a regular basis during the past few seasons, it would be tough for most players to hang in there and stay motivated, but Jones said the nature of the club had kept him engaged.
‘‘It has been a bit hard but I have a good group of mates out there and we all have a bit of fun which makes it easier because we are all pretty close,’’ he said.
A lot of credit must go to Jones, who has remained loyal to the Hoppers in the face of limited club success.
A booming kick and prodigious mark of the footy, players of his quality are not easy to find and it goes without question he would be in high demand from a lot of clubs looking for a key forward.
There is also the old theory of trying to play at the highest level you possibly can — and no-one would have begrudged the young star, not even his father, if he had left to ply his trade elsewhere.
‘‘I have definitely thought about it (leaving) at times but ... I would like to see the club back up on its feet and going really well before I think about going anywhere else,’’ he said.
These are noble words from a man who holds his boyhood club in high regard. So much is his passion for the club and desire to see it do well, he took on the role as senior coach this season despite it not really being a job he coveted or intended to do at such a young age.
With 10 goals in his first two matches in the new-look PDFNL, Jones is showing no sign of slowing down on field and is setting a great example for his young teammates.
Just as important as being competitive on the field, in his eyes, is establishing a stable club that players want to come to.
He said the mood around the club had started to lift significantly in the past few months.
‘‘We have been doing 70-80 meals at Thursday night dinners, so that has been awesome. There is a good vibe around the club, the netballers are doing really well, they have had a couple of wins after not having an A-grade side last year — so things are looking up,’’ he said.
With a player of Jones’ ilk steering the ship, no doubt greener pastures await this club.