THE Griffith District Football Association's newest side is slowly taking shape with players, coaches and colours all locked in for the Wagga-based Eastern Wanderers.
The breakaway side - established last year amidst a huge shake-up in Wagga football - has well and truly kicked off pre-season as it plots to silence critics who expect the Wanderers to be cannon fodder for the GDFA's big clubs.
Eastern Wanderers spokesman Justin Curran told The Area News the club has approximately 20 players locked in for this season, the majority from Wagga powerhouses Lake Albert and Tolland, to fill its first and reserve-grade sides.
Andrew Douglas was appointed coach of the fledgling side late last year and Curran said the experienced former representative mentor has mapped out a pre-season program that will give the Wanderers their best chance of stealing Griffith's silverware.
"He's got a plan set out with fitness and drills and all the rest of it," he said.
"We've been training for two weeks now and it's going quite well."
The Wanderers have settled on their visual identity and will wear claret and blue in an "old-school Aston Villa" inspired arrangement.
And despite the probable return of the Yoogali Wanderers, the Wagga side will not change its name to avoid a clash with the GDFA wooden spooners.
Curran said the Eastern Wanderers were surprised by news Yoogali FC's sister club were considering a comeback, having been told they would not play on.
"Now apparently they're going to, but we're too far into it to change the name now," he said.
Curran admits the newcomers have not been received warmly by all of Wagga football with the city's reigning champions effectively turning their backs on the Wanderers.
Grand final winners Wagga United are "not very keen at all" on the Wanderers concept, Curran said.
"That's their own choice - a couple of their guys are very interested but it's just a matter of trying to twist their arms.
"There's still a few numbers that we need but I think we're looking quite alright.
"Off the field we're going well but it's very early days at this stage for on the field.
"After the first couple of weeks in February a lot of guys will be back from holidays and cricket.
"There's a little bit of time there but it'd be good if we could tie a few more players down within the next week or so.
"We need a few more numbers to make it a bit easier, but we'll get there."
The club's player drive could even extend overseas with Curran confirming the Wanderers are in talks with several imports over a stint in Wagga.
However, with no standing links to clubs or associations outside of Australia - which many Griffith clubs have the benefit of and exploit regularly for new blood - the international transfer game is proving an entirely different kettle of fish for the upstart Wanderers.
"It's a challenging thing to try and start that process," Curran said.
"We're a new club, we're basically starting from scratch.
"That's going to be a bit of a hard one but you've got to start somewhere if you want to better yourselves."
Curran said any players in Griffith who have or are moving to Wagga for work or study reasons and still want to participate in the GDFA competition are encouraged to get in contact.