I look back on the year that has been and scratch my head and ask “How did we end up here?” We have had a talented group all year, surrounded by players like Crofty, Rusty, DJ (but don’t tell him I said that), Brad, Jonny Lee, Jacko, Payney, Burgo, Fooka, Joshy and the late inclusion of Brighty, we could be excused for thinking we were half way there already, and honestly we probably did.
It didn’t take long for us to realise that most squads running around in the SEABL were highly talented as well and it was going to take more than just individuals for us to have a successful year.
Like most people who carry the experience of 6 or 7 or even 8 of our players, we all had ideas on how our team should be run, what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t be doing, only problem being as individuals we all had different ideas, and we all wanted it done our way. Playing this way we began losing our close games, become increasingly frustrated at others, at ourselves, coaching staff and anyone else we could find to blame, this helped us limp to an poor start to the season, especially by the standards we set ourselves.
Each week seemed a carbon copy of last, narrow losses, not quite getting it done when it counted, having big leads and letting teams back in, there were individual games that showed glimpses of what was possible if we all came together but these were too few and far between. The frustration grew and more questions were being asked. Were they the right questions? Were they to the right people? I can’t answer that, but what I can answer is that as I sat of during the middle stages of the season I watched people start to stand up, take control and make sacrificies for the team. These small things although not directly leading to wins at the time began setting a foundation, a platform that come the right time was going to be strong enough to launch a playoff assault.
I was able to, not as a player, not as a coach but as a fly on the wall, watch our coach stand firm in his beliefs, his structure and his philosophies and enlighten each individual as a member of a bigger team to what was possible if we all came together. As a fly on the wall I watched this platform build and become stronger and stronger reinforced by the beliefs of ours assistants Norm and Pistol Pete until we were ready to strike.
Many people can ask what if? but I challenge them to face the group now and ask what if?, for they will be faced with 15 men banded together all looking in the same direction with the same answer.
What if we have to go through Geelong and Hobart to make the finals?
What if we need to beat NW Tassie in Devonport to keep going?
What if we need to beat Hobart who held a 13-0 home finals record to make it to the grand final?
Again, ask a group of 15 men who stand banded together by mateship and a single goal.
Saturday night’s result will be written in history by the teams on the night, but without standing up, without taking control and without the sacrifices, without the journey Grant has led us on this year we would not be in the place we are now, competing in the South Conference Final.
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