Wow, doesn’t the season move along quickly once you get past the first half a dozen games! My last letter to you was following that horrible Sturt game at Unley, where we got punched in the face after some honorable losses. We’re now getting ready to face Sturt again this week at X Convenience Oval, and we have some real optimism this time around.
I’ve mentioned a few times that we need to get past the honorable loss situation, sometimes that can define teams and we didn’t want that to define us. Learning to win the close ones is critical to establishing belief, the most important element in winning. Great teams just always seem to be able to find a way to win each week, as we all witnessed through the 2000’s with our own Club.
So, it has been somewhat satisfying to see our League team win some games when under fire from the opposition. In the mud at Woodville Oval, we were like soldiers in the war, we just battled inch by inch through the conditions and pushed the enemy back behind their own lines. The 1-point win against South Adelaide was one of those wins that galvanizes players and coaches, it’s when they really feel the joy of working together under pressure. And last weekend against West Adelaide, we showed a maturity that wasn’t visible early in the season. I mean, it was a game where all the expectations sat with us, our members and supporters expected us to win. Those games are hard to win, its like my beloved Richmond coming up against an embattled North Melbourne this week with an interim coach. The Richmond players will tell you they’re nervous, more nervous than normal.
Our players did embrace that expectation and they stood up. That’s maturity. We know that we’re still a work in progress, we have many young players and other players in general with minimal experience at League level. To think we have talented players like Nick Lange (21 games), Rhett Montgomerie (29 games), Jack Carpenter (5 games), Aaron Nietschke (4 games), Luca Whitelum (11 games), Billy Iles (14 games), Cooper Dahms (25 games) and Billy McCormack (10 games), all technically still at the start of football careers. There’s a lot to like among them, and many others like Shay Linke (6 games), Isaiah Dudley (4 games) and Lewis Cowham (4 games) are all young and learning what League football is about. And whilst having an amazing football career himself as a player, we can’t forget that our senior coach has coached just over 30 League games himself, so he fully understands what our younger players go through on field as they gain experience, and he is able to directly relate to that and support their efforts in ensuring they are being educated with each and every game they play, as he is as coach.
As our coaches and football staff fully understand, our job is now to get these players to 50 games and 100 games to give us a more mature list, one which can contend each year. Coupled with our ability to recruit some extra talent at the top, and deliver home grown talent from underneath, we’re looking forward to what the future looks like.
Off field, our President David Cavenett, the Board and myself are working hard to ensure our investment in football continues to grow and that we are as well-resourced as we can be. This investment started with the appointment of a full time Female Football Manager with Carrie Mewett doing a great job in that space since February. To further progress our investment, we are in the process of appointing a full time Football Manager to manage our senior men’s football program, a role which will also take on the management of our senior playing list, our recruiting strategies, our key football relationships and support mechanisms around our players, coaches, officials and volunteers. This role exists at all other SANFL clubs, and is critical in pulling together our senior football program to streamline and shape roles, measure performance and ensure we stay ahead of new concepts, technology and ideas.
As you may have seen, we have installed our new merchandise shed next to the middle canteen (thanks to new sponsor Qube Containers), and have been able to sell more merchandise to our supporters in 3 weeks than we did for the 10 weeks before. We are now looking at how we can enhance our range for 2023 and bring some new products to our fans.
As promised, we now have our Hall of Fame selection committee in place. This committee comprises of: Tom Zorich (Chair), Barb Page, Peter Vivian, Ken Russell, Jeff Brown, Daniel Healy, Roger Girdham, Robert Laidlaw and Robin Mulholland.
We are finalizing the new lease and support agreement with our Council which we hope will include some new exciting support elements to which we are very grateful. More on this next time once complete. In addition, it is worth noting that Council has approved a $25,000 expense towards the development of a masterplan for the Oval precinct. The means the site will undergo a review in terms of what is required to upgrade our facilities to meet the needs of our community, including the CDFC. This is very exciting, as it moves us closer to a venue improvement plan which will transform the precinct into a vibrant sports and community space. Again, more on this later.
The new unisex changerooms are starting to take shape after a very slow start, the new date of completion is now 30 September. This is fine, but probably as late as we can have due to the new Women’s pre-season training program likely to start in October.
Our oval and lighting project across the road at the Playford International College and Kaurna Plains School is progressing, much to the hard work of all stakeholders. We have recently had the oval surveyed for re-alignment, as well the irrigation plans underway. Although it’s quite a complex project as it involves both schools, Playford Council, SANFL, Education Department and ourselves, it is moving forward and has great buy-in from everyone. This oval will become a training facility for our female football and underage programs in light if the new difficulties we have with oval space.
Our Licenced Club (Grand Central) has continued its recovery from COVID, although still not quite back to pre-COVID levels in some areas. Our Licenced Club Manager Preston Stewart has our gaming business in a really solid performance position, to which he has recently added some new machines, as well as some encouraging signs in the bistro and sports bar. Our Bingo continues to build itself back up nicely thanks to some great work by Jamie Griffiths, our Bingo Manager.
For me, it’s been a great 9 months, full of ideas, actions and plans. Our football program is full of optimism and our off-field support teams are full of enthusiasm and energy. We have the support of some great key stakeholders like the Playford Council and their executive team, our wonderful sponsors and of course our members.
As we say to our players, let’s keep believing. All the things that are in our control, let’s all be the best we can be at those things. If we are, I promise the rest will take of itself!
All the best, see you at the footy!