Paul Derrick wants to break Mernda's five-year finals drought in 2019.

The chasers: Mernda Football Club

How does a side respond to missing finals in heartbreaking fashion for the second time in just three years?

For the Mernda Football Club, this is the reality facing them after finishing 5th in the 2018 Northern Football Netball League Division 3 season. The club were in the top four for 17 of the 18 weeks of the season, but missed out on finals after results went against the Demons in the final round.

Their season followed a similar path to the 2016 season, where they were similarly in the top four for all but one round – again, the round which mattered most.

However, under second-year coach Paul Derrick, there is renewed optimism at the club, confident that, despite the losses of a few key players, they can break a finals drought which now stretches back to the end of the 2014 season.

“I was a little disappointed how we finished off last year,” Derrick said. “Excuses. Well, we can’t make many.”

“We had as many players on the ground as the other teams, we just didn’t finish off our year the way we’d like, probably lost some games we should’ve won, which hurt us.”

The off-season period is an important one for many clubs as they try to re-establish their foothold on the local community, a point which isn’t lost on Derrick when discussing the atmosphere around the club at the moment.

“The club’s always exciting,” he said. “The weather’s perfect, obviously the committee’s doing a fantastic job off the field. Now I guess it’s our job to fix it up on the field.”

The Demons open up their season on the 6th of April next year when they take on fellow finals aspirants Heidelberg West at Heidelberg Park.