A LAST-minute rally from locals and concerned football followers has ensured Lockhart will avoid going into recession and play in this year's Hume League competition.
A severe player shortage threatened to force the Demons into a hiatus, but a positive response from the community and allowances from the Hume League will ensure they play this year.
The Demons held a meeting on Monday night to discuss the situation and have opted to play on, which has been given the green light by the Hume League.
Lockhart vice president Abe Wooden said although they fell just short of their player number target, the assistance from the Hume League to ensure they will participate was crucial.
"A lot of thanks has to go to the Hume League. We fell just short of our target but they came with a plan to help us, and they have heaps," he said.
"Without them we wouldn't be going ahead, they gave us lots of options.
"We put all of it down in front of us on paper and made the decision we'll be going ahead this year. We're really happy about that, and confident we can have an enjoyable year.
"We've had a lot of blokes come to the club wanting to help out, whether they're former locals or mates of mates, or just genuine good people.
"We've picked up a lot (of players). A month ago we would have been averaging eight to 15 at training, now it's around the 25 mark which is great.
"We've still got a lot of work to do, we're still not out of the woods and looking to recruit players, and second grade isn't a certainty yet."
Wooden said it would have been tough for the club to return if they were forced into a recession.
"It would kill us out here, we'd probably lose all the recruits this year and it would be hard getting that back again," he said.
"The target was 28 players committed to trying to make first grade each week. We got to about 26, we were pretty happy with it and you usually get blokes who show up before round one.
"Our president (Shane Tullberg) is also twos coach and he thinks once a first grade team is on the park, the reserve grade players will start showing up."
Wooden said the Hume League was willing to make some concessions rarely used in senior football to ensure Lockhart plays this year.
"If it's worst case scenario and we only had 18 to fill a first grade side, we would be able to then ring whoever we're playing that week to see if they can give us players," he said.
"If clubs weren't willing to give us players, it's in the rules that if we only have say 16 players on the field, they can only have 16 on the field.
"It wouldn't be ideal and it would be disappointing for everyone, but from what we've heard around the league other clubs have thrown their support behind us.
"It's not a permanent thing, next year is looking really good and if we get through this 12 month period we'll be alright."
The club's netball program is looking very strong this year, which added to the importance of playing on.
"Our netball will be really strong this year, our A grade will contend for a flag without a doubt and that will flow on through the other grades," he said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.