In the space of eight months, the Claremont Women’s Football Club has executed a miraculous turnaround.
In 2016, the Piranhas were in bad shape. Having previously asked the league to field a team in the WAWFL Reserves competition only, 2016 would see the Piranhas return to top flight WA women’s football.
But their reintroduction to the competition, on the back of winning the Reserves premiership in 2015, was a trial by fire.
Claremont recorded zero wins and 15 losses, scoring only 183 points for the season and being on the receiving end of 10 separate 10-goal-plus losses.
However, at a time when you might expect the team to weaken, Claremont has made a stunning resurrection in 2017.
It began with the club aligning with the Claremont men at the end of 2016, moving away from their previous title to become the Tigers.
“This year is the first time we’ve played under the Tigers banner,” Claremont President Amanda Robertson told Girls Play Footy.
“We see the importance of aligning ourselves with the men’s WAFL side just because there’s that clear support for both sides.”
But the support of the men’s club was not going to turn around the women’s team’s on-field performance, which has been a long process.
“It’s definitely been a challenge,” Robertson said.
“A few years ago we weren’t able to field two sides and we had to ask for just a Reserves side to allow our club to develop and grow.
“We did lose a few players to other clubs, but we’ve worked really hard on our recruitment and retention over the last few years.
“With our numbers this year with over 20 new players coming on board, we’ve really struck a nice balance between experience and new players this year.”
That balance has helped Claremont to a 7-3 record in the WAWFL so far this season – including a 189-point belting of East Perth at the weekend – to sit the Tigers third on the ladder only behind perennial League front-runners, Coastal Titans and Swan Districts.
Along with recruitment and solidifying their youth pathways, the success is also a result of an altered approach.
“We did something slightly differently at the end of last year,” Robertson said.
“We started our pre-season back in November which is the first time we’ve done that as a club.
“We set ourselves up in terms of our fitness, which means we can go with that as one of our focuses as a club, as a running team.”
The team’s positives on-field results are a result of the efforts of the likes of consistent performers Jasmine Stewart and Chloe Colgate, club newcomers Phillipa and Holly Harrison, and former Swan Districts forward Asha Price.
Similarly off the field, the club has been buoyed by strong support.
“We’ve already got over 20 new players on our books for seniors and a number of new players for our Rogers Cup and our youth girls teams which is fantastic,” Robertson explained.
“We’ve got a number of volunteers this year who aren’t even playing because they just want to be part of the club which is fantastic.
“That’s from our committee right through to our trainers, as well as our coaches.”
The Tigers face their toughest challenge yet this season when they host the Coastal Titans this weekend.
For sure, it won’t be the 180-0 defeat the Tigers were handed when the two teams last met in the last round of 2016.