Falcons senior coach Paul Shoppee reviews the 2018 season…
After a long, tough season the scoreboard has been reset and as a club we can now look forward to a break to recharge and refresh before the hard work commences again.
This season presented ongoing challenges from the normal interruption with the Grand Prix leaving us with having to share a ground each Wednesday night seriously disrupting our preparation for the season, ongoing poor training attendance over the pre-season and season proper, struggle to field a Development Squad side for the majority of the season, season ending injuries to several players, work commitments & players taking holidays during the season seriously testing our player reserves.
Over pre-season we had 80 current & new players attend training. However, only 7 players attended more than 80% of the sessions, 10 players attend more than 75% and a disappointing 20 players attend less than 50%. That is less than 1 side having completed 50% of the sessions!!
Over both the pre-season and season proper we had 100 players attend training. However, from these 100 players only 22 players completed more than 50% of the session. From this 22 it included 1 player who left for family reason at the mid-point of the season (Kirk) and 1 player whose season finished in Round 7 (Chris Marson). 2 players never played a game all season (Sam Gleeson & Sunny) and 5 players who were regular Development Squad players at the start of the season but who got a taste of senior footy late in the season.
We used 47 players in the Seniors this season, with Jack Twite the only player to play every game, ironically suffering a broken collarbone in the last game. (Have a speedy recovery Twitey). From this list of 47 players, we had a combined total of 162 games missed due to injury, suspension, work and holidays.
However, after facing all these and other challengers we are still standing as a club. This is a testament to the character of the club to keep stepping up, something that has always been evident in my time at the club.
Highlights of the season were:
1) Having our first Women’s training session on the last training night. The feeling at the club that night was simply amazing!! The work that Tyson, Dee and the committee are doing to get a Women’s team off the ground is to be greatly acknowledged and applauded. This can only be a major positive for the club heading into the future.
2) The arrival of new recruits both in the pre-season and during the season that with a full pre-season under their belt will only improve our playing depth.
3) Adversity creates opportunity and we have been able to give several young and inexperienced players an exposure to senior footy over the season. I believe that this will hold them and the club in good stead. The challenge to these boys is to now commit to completing a strong pre-season to build on the improvements they have shown this year.
4) The Development Squad making a strong charge towards the finals but unfortunately falling at the final hurdle. The success they were having was vital in keeping the morale up around the club.
The upcoming Presentation Night is when we recognise individual achievements over the season. Please make every effort to attend on the night to congratulate the award winners.
The journey to success never ends, we have the next couple of months to recharge our batteries, enjoy the end of season trips, AFL Final Series and Spring Racing carnival before we reconvene to begin the work towards 2019.
I implore all players to really commit to being back next season. There have been comments of players really committing to next season, past players coming back after having a season off and new recruits already lined up. These are all really positive and great to hear but unless they are followed up with actions then they are just hollow words.
By being demoted to Division 4 next year, this presents an opportunity for the club to regroup and gather ourselves up to chase some real success on and off the field. But we can’t be complacent in thinking that we are going to dominate in a lower division.
So plan your holidays out of season, come to the first night of pre-season training in the best condition you have ever been in, if in the past you normally start training after Christmas change your thinking and get down for the full pre-season.
Division 4 is the hardest division in the VAFA to get out of so we need to really make the commitment to each other to give everything we can to returning our Club to Division 3 in 2020.
Falcons – Forever Strong