Back: Tony Grosse (Runner), Scott Lieschke (Coach), Jason Lewins, Jack Redman, Nicholas Steber, James Lieschke, Kody Eaton, Andrew Trefry, Juno Bevilaqua, Alex Savery, Levi Burns, Geoff Rule (Asst Coach), Olly Standing (Team Manager)
Middle: George Wessels, Reed Walker, Mitchell Rudrum, Declan Thompson, Brayden Forrest, Mason Grosse, Cameron Alexander, Curtis Mitchell, Alexander Piper-Hyman, Graeme Fitzgerald (Runner)
Front: Daniel Brown, Thomas Montauban, Adam Rule, Ethan Gozzi, Conor Mannix, Kyle Robertson, Luke Rule, Lachlan Standing, Lachlan Fitzgerald
Absent: Dylan Veitch (inset), Mitch Thomas (inset), Isaac Waddell, Justin Matthys
2016 was the first season of Year 10 competing in the Fremantle Conference League. After initial concerns about whether we would have enough players, a small number of parents launched an audacious recruiting drive, resulting in the signing of 10 new players. Unfortunately due to registration policies, we were even forced to turn away some players who wanted to join our ‘destination’ club.
With an influx of new players this season our aim was to welcome the new players and their families and to engage these families with the true ‘Bulldog spirit’. A very social jumper presentation was held as much for the players as for engaging the new parents and families who joined our club this season.
The late start to training and early season start led to some positive potentialities and a practice game against a slick Manning Rippers team. Our new players were unveiled and the season ahead looked to be off to a bright start. Winning the round 1 grading carnival was a big boost and brought with it great expectations for the season ahead.
Adopting a mantra of ‘Run, Contest, Talk and Encourage’ and an attitude of each quarter starting at ‘nil all’ (with an aim to win the quarter), our season was in full swing.
Frustratingly, as the season unfolded we were beset with many injuries that even had us scrambling for extra players (even though we thought we would be required to rest players each game – a worry that rarely eventuated). Injuries to key players meant that our proposed game-plan, structures and positional selections were rarely able to be repeated throughout the year.
A very even competition (despite some blowout scores) meant almost every game was winnable. This resulted in us being in the four for the first 12 rounds despite having only 4 wins. With 6 teams vying for the 3rd and 4th positions on the ladder we had to fight to regain our finals position after moving out of the four for the first time in the season in round 13. A series of ‘sudden death’ clashes starting in round 14 resulted in us cementing our position in the finals prior to the last round. We experienced an amazing ‘roller-coaster’ of emotions in our round 14 clash against South Coogee (our first sudden death game) when we went from thinking we had lost the game (and our finals chances) by a point, to thinking we had drawn the game, to finding out we had actually won the game by a point and were on a march to the finals.
With players returning from injury resulting in our ability to field our strongest sides, an increased attack on the ball and intensity in running and tackling, we played our best football for the season over the last few week of the season, leading to success in the first semi final against Jandakot white, (a team that we had lost to 3 times during the season). Unfortunately we fell just short against Mundijong in the preliminary final, after being even on the scoreboard at 3/4 time. Many would argue that we had a greater percentage of the ball and more inside 50s in the prelim, but we lost in the only stat that matters in finals – total points scored. The preliminary final loss was a case of ‘so near and yet so far’, one that really got away! It was amazing how ‘gutted’ losing a junior football final can leave you.
During the last 5 games, the team raised the bar in many areas. Our ferocious tackling, our forward pressure and our run out of the backline would have surprised the opposing clubs, and I believe we have started to build a confidence and psychology of ‘belief’ in ourselves that we can take forwards into 2017.
Special recognition must go to our captain, Brayden Forrest, who was awarded the Fremantle conference Fairest and Best medal after a stellar season. Congratulations Brayden on a magnificent achievement.
Congratulations to our Club award winners; Brayden Forrest a worthy club F & B winner, capping off a great season, Levi Burns R/U F & B, Reed Walker being awarded the most improved after an outstanding season in the backline, Joint Best Clubman award winners Lachie Standing and Adam Rule, and the Coaches award winner, Thomas ‘Monty’ Montauban.
Many thanks to a wonderful and supportive parent group for your assistance during the season. I believe we possibly have the best parent group in the entire conference, with everyone prepared to do their part. Thank you to all the families new to the club this season, you have been integral to our success this season. Thank you to all the ‘old’ families who have remained loyal to this team for many years. Special thanks to those with the major roles during the season, Olly Standing as team manager, Grossey and Fitzy as runners and on game day warm ups, Andrew and Helen on first aid and Jackie and Cheryl on the i-pads. I would also like to acknowledge our weekly sponsor, Applecross Pizza for their support.
Lastly, thank you to the stars of the show, the players that made up our side this season. You have taught us heaps! It has been a memorable season. We hope the boys have learnt something new, whether it is about football, life or just being a part of something, and we look forwards to your return to the club in 2017.
Scott Lieschke and Geoff Rule (Joint Coaches)