THE 2016 Nepean Division season may have come to a conclusion with Hastings winning the flag, however, the silly season is about to begin as teams prepare to challenge in 2017.
For footy clubs, the season never finishes – one season just rolls into another.
Who’s going to take us to the next level?
Where did we fall short?
These are the questions that coaching groups and committees discuss at the conclusion of every season. It’s the catalyst for hundreds of phone calls being made between now and the first bounce of 2017.
So what would be the plans of your club in the off-season?
Hastings: Success breeds success! The Blues have already landed former VFL player Ricky Ferraro and the hot word is that there are others to follow, although the club is keeping its cards close to its chest. The Blues got their mojo six weeks out from finals and I can only see them improving as a group. I doubt very much they’ll lose anyone and there will be no premiership hangover.
Frankston: The Bombers know they weren’t far away. Ryan Kitchen needs to get himself super fit. He had a big reputation coming in but finished the third or fourth ranked ruckman in the comp. He will make a significant difference if he can get himself right. Mitch Bosward and Jay Reynolds have been linked all season. A tougher draw in 2017 will make them a better and more hardened team.
Rosebud: The Buds are looking for their third coach in as many years. Nick Jewell wanted a commitment from the club in 2015 and didn’t get one, so he committed to a club (Sorrento) that wanted to invest in him. 2016 coach Michael Kraska lost the support of the playing group and it was unworkable moving forward. The Buds need to get this right for 2017 and beyond. What’s best for the footy club long term? It seems there’s too many agendas both on and off the field with word players are dictating who the club should and shouldn’t interview for the top job. They simply need to find the best coach available. They missed on now Mt Eliza coach Troy Shannon last year because they dragged their heels. The right decision needs to be made. Their list is outstanding and they’ll challenge again with the right coach. They need to keep Greg Bentley!
Somerville: All eyes will be on this club in the pre-season. Bevan Malloy has been appointed coach. The question is, who will stay and who will go? Scott Simpson is on his way to WA and Luke Rowe is off to the US. What will Josh Westerman, Billy Rolfe and Tim McGennis do? What will Tim and David Hirst do? Todd Farrelly has retired. If the Eagles can keep the same list and add a couple, they’re good enough to be there again.
Red Hill: The Hillmen were superb in 2016. They have already added one of the league’s best ever, Chris Irving, who will play as a forward. They need a ruckman and another onballer to help Sean Marchetti. They might be close with a big man. The return of Paul Wintle in defence would top them off. The Hillmen will make a massive leap and challenge if they can get what they need.
Sorrento: The Sharks will be the big movers in 2017. Myles Pitt and Leigh Poholke return up forward, Daniel Grant comes back into defence and Rob Forrest returns from a knee in the middle. Add that to a premiership Under 19 team with enormous talent with a taste of senior experience and the Sharks will be there when the whips are cracking.
Rye: The Demons will no doubt be looking to bring on some more Under 19s this season. A good crop of Under 17s are coming up and they’ll be exposed to senior footy. Rye has also been able to hang on to the nucleus of their recruits, including Ryan Mullet and Kris Bardon. They should have a few points up their sleeve and will no doubt extend their recruitment web.
Dromana: The Tigers will be hoping to see the return of some of their stars from yesteryear – using the great Rikki Johnston (coach) to lure them. Their kids will hopefully get into the gym in the off-season and come back stronger. The Tigers’ best was good enough. Consistency is the key.
Devon Meadows: The Panthers will be hoping for some luck in 2017. They were hit with the injury stick in 2016 and emotionally they were rocked and knocked. There will be no excuses in 2017. They recruited well in the off-season last year and just need those players to take the field more often than not in 2017.
Crib Point: The Magpies were the big disappointment of 2016 after some heavy recruiting. With Brad Arnold now in charge and having the respect of the entire playing group, expect the Magpies to be a lot more competitive next season.
Pearcedale: The Panthers have appointed Leigh Stewart as coach for 2017. Former coach Jamie Merchan is still onboard. The key for the Dales will be hanging onto their list as opposition clubs circle during the off-season.
Tyabb: The Yabbies improved rapidly in 2017. There were a couple of big losses in there but on the whole, they were very competitive. Having former North Melbourne powerbroker Ron Joseph playing a mentor role off the field, as well as helping out, will be a significant bonus for the club, which has stability.