It might have been only an internal trial game but how good was it to see our guys back in action last Friday night – and even better for those who got to see it live in Port Lincoln!

Given time to reflect on the Community Camp and on behalf of our entire Club, I’d like to say a big thank you to the people of Port Lincoln and broader Eyre Peninsula for the way they embraced us. It was great to see so many Crows supporters and having also been to Robe in January, it’s fair to say there’s no shortage of passion for our Club and the game in regional areas.

The trip to the west coast culminated with our first proper hit-out in preparation for the season and the coaches identified a number of positives. Most importantly, we got through unscathed on the injury front, which is always a relief, and we were able to execute some of our game-specific training in match conditions.

I’m getting asked a lot about where most of our improvement will come from this year and there’s no doubt our second, third and fourth-year players, such as Luke Pedlar and Riley Thilthorpe among others, look to have made gains over the summer.

As you are probably now aware, we have also announced the leadership group which includes four new faces. Jordan Dawson has delivered everything we hoped for and more when we recruited him from Sydney and he will again lead the team. In a change from previous years, we are officially naming three Vice-Captains in Brodie Smith, Ben Keays and Reilly O’Brien.

The four new additions – Wayne Milera, Mitch Hinge, Lachie Murphy and Darcy Fogarty – were endorsed by their teammates and each offer different experiences, skills and outlooks, and a willingness to lead in their own unique way. It’s just reward for the work they’ve put in and if you look at the bigger picture, we’re in a good spot.

Our membership tally is tracking well and being a member still presents the best value for money for those keen to watch the team play at Adelaide Oval. It’s also worth noting we held our first Member Engagement Panel meeting for the year last week, at which our latest group of participants were given a rundown of what to expect in the months ahead.

The encouraging progress we are making both on and off the field is underpinned by a strong commercial platform and over the past week we have welcomed two new corporate supporters, starting with Rite Price Heating and Cooling who are now our official Coaches Partner. As a South Australian family-owned business, they are a perfect fit with like-minded aspirations.

We also announced multi-national grain handling business Viterra has joined us in an exciting new partnership that will see them invest in community football. Through this arrangement, we will be able to deliver a number of initiatives and events aimed at supporting and growing country football over the next two years, and plans are already in place to visit Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula.

Back on footy and we have an important two weeks ahead. We play trials against Port Adelaide at Alberton this Friday night before West Coast at Hisense Stadium on March 2. The match day against the Eagles at Hisense Stadium in Richmond will double as our members’ season launch. There will be a kids zone, member giveaways, a full squad signing and kick-to-kick session, guernsey presentation, and player and coach interviews, so we would love to see you all there in just under two weeks’ time.

Footy is back and we’re building momentum, and it’s great to have you along for the ride. Bring on Round 1. Good times are ahead!