By Toe Punt
PENINSULA league coach Stevey Ryan believes that unless the league’s governing body, PCN Sports Alliance, gets behind representative football, the competition will go backwards.
Ryan made the claim in the wake of the Peninsula League’s 85-point belting at the hands of Geelong Football League at Simmons Stadium on Saturday.
Whilst the 21 players who represented the league did their very best, they were no match for the Geelong FL, who dominated from start to finish to win 18.18.126 to 6.5.41.
Peninsula League was held scoreless in the final quarter and booted just two goals in the second half.
Ryan, along with assistant coach Troy Shannon, led the team to a memorable win last season to earn the right to challenge for the title of number one country football league in the competition.
However, despite the importance of the occasion, players, clubs, coaches, officials and most importantly, the governing body, failed to provide the necessary support for the Peninsula League to be at their best.
Eight players pulled out of the team in the week leading up to Saturday’s match. Another pulled out on the eve of the game, however, he is expected to line-up against Pines this weekend.
The same thing happened last year in terms of the lack of commitment and support from players and clubs, however, it was masked by a great performance from those who represented the Peninsula League team.
Ryan said it was time for everyone from the top to the bottom to take representative football seriously.
“The recruitment of quality players to our competition depends largely on the performance of our league on the big stage,” Ryan said.
“If we can’t get players, clubs and the league to support the country championships, then the competition will go backwards because we won’t recruit the very best talent.”
Ryan said Geelong Football League epitomised what representing your league was all about.
“Their (Geelong FL) clubs made a commitment to representative football at league and club level, they have been training as a group since before the season started and they even trained with the Geelong VFL team in preparation,” Ryan said.
“The result of all that was a super impressive performance from the very best players in their competition.
“We were no-where near them, which is a shame when you consider it was one versus two in terms of leagues.
“They simply blew us away and were a class above.
“To our boys’ credit, they gave their all and even with our very best team, things would have been tough.
“We’ve just got to decide whether we as a competition want to commit to interleague football or not.
“If it wasn’t for Pines, Edithvale, Mornington and Frankston YCW Football Clubs supporting the concept this year, we wouldn’t have fielded a side.
“Blokes like Ash Eames and Byron and Anthony Barry have nothing to gain from playing interleague football but they put up their hand and give everything.
“Where’s the support from everyone else? Blokes are pulling out with one week hamstring injuries!
“I hear that certain clubs and players have an issue with myself or Troy Shannon, but this is about playing with the best in the competition and representing your league. Build a bridge and get over it, really.”
“It’s got to start from the top to be successful and planning needs to start now,” Ryan said.
Ryan also supported the concept of appointing coaches that can devote the time and effort to the task.
“You need a team of people who know and love the league and are not involved at club level.
“It’s tough to coach a club and to do this, especially when you’re ringing blokes to play up to the eve of the game, as well as not having the necessary support from the top
“We are left to our devices and we do the best we can with the time we have.
“I’ve made written recommendations to PCN Sports Alliance about it and do you think I have heard back? (This scribe was also asked to write recommendations to the league last season and never received a reply).
“I’m not sure why we are all expected to care about it so much when those at the top don’t support it the way they should.”
Mornington’s Warwick Miller was outstanding for the Peninsula League at half back, Edi-Aspendale’s Stevey Mannix was superb, the two Barry boys led from the front and Angus Scott, who spends his time between Casey and Edithvale, was also very good.
Lachy Wallace, who spends time between Collingwood in the VFL and YCW, was also prominent.
Ash Eames had some hamstring soreness but Steve Ryan was quick to take him from the ground and never put him back on.
“Eamesy wasn’t going to make a difference to the final result so it was important to ensure he was right for his club this weekend,” Ryan said.