All in all 2017 was a successful year on field for the Canterbury Football Club I felt, as the reserves and seniors both improved on their win/loss ratio and % after an average year on field in 2016. With some heavy recruiting needing to be done in the off season to ensure a successful year, we needed around 15-20 new faces to provide some depth for the senior squad and to make the reserves competitive and push for a finals berth also. With some great new additions through networking like Alex Wheeler, James Mreulje, James Carrington, Matt Wishart, Jason Blakemore, Andrew Hummerston, Jayden Collins, Josh Lloyde, Chris Bold, Dan Walden, Jarrod Dalzotto & Charlie Houghton to name a few, Alex Carapetis returning “home”, and some landing on our doorstep through our excellent website advertising like James Coghlan/West, Johnny McDonald & Dylan Henchel, our depth was in fairly good shape and a new look Canterbury Cobras were upon us.
With several new components introduced to the game plan, and with record pre season numbers in attendance, we worked hard from the get go in training the lads up and getting them as familiar as possible with the new structures and zoning by round 1. We started the season off with a sensational win v Richmond Central, holding on in a tense last quarter arm wrestle to win by 11 points. We followed this up in round 2 with an absolute pulverising of bottom side Sth Melb Districts to the tune of 135pts to be top of the table heading into round 3. But early wins can be misleading, as we were taught a valuable football lesson by Power House in round 3, and were then under no illusions as to the work that was needed to challenge for top 4 let alone top 2, with a mini breakaway group forming of Power House & UHS/VU undefeated at the top of the ladder. We bounced back well in round 4, but some inaccuracies with disposal v Westbourne hurt us in round 5, and a sleepy start to round 6 v Swinburne and an adjustment to our structure had us super competitive but back to the pack with 3/3 by the end of round 6.
The comp this year was as even as we have seen, and apart from Sth Melb (who still had several quality players), there were no gimme wins to be had, and a scrap was needed at every post to A. keep in touch with the 4 and B. avoid relegation. By round 11 we were only 5 goals off the best 2 sides in UHS/VU & Power House, but we still hadn’t grasped the game plan properly, and hence still made the same mistakes that cost us dearly which was mainly disposal based. But we kept fighting and scrapping and evaluating our game, staying within reach of the top 4 all the way until the dramatic last 4 rounds of the season where things really took an upward turn. The equation to make finals basically boiled down to this: we needed to win every game, which included the undefeated UHS/VU at their ground, and rely on Westbourne losing the last 2 games against the top 2 sides and gain around 10%.
With a slight tweak of the magnets in round 15 v La Trobe, and an additional player added to the stoppages, there were some great signs that our handball game was starting to click. We took another step forward in our ball movement v Point Cook in round 16, recording a big 44pt win to head into round 17 with 2 wins on the trot and some much needed confidence. In one of the most stirring wins you will see, we held on by 1 solitary point v UHS/VU, and with Power House knocking off Westbourne, we were still alive heading into round 18. To make finals it was basically down to this, we needed to beat Richmond Central, UHS/VU needed to beat Westbourne, and the combined margin needed to be 65pts or more. With Richmond Central only 1 win behind us, if we took our eye off the opponent and focused on the scoreboard, we would inevitably get rolled and slide to 6th on the ladder, so we set out to execute “the perfect game”.
With the retirements pre game of club stalwart Benny Peel and 2015 premiership player Scott Fitzgerald, we needed no further motivation that’s for sure to knock Richmond into next week. And in undoubtedly the best win I’ve been a part of in my time at Canterbury outside of the 2015 reserves GF win, we smashed Richmond to the tune of 118pts! But to our horror, Westbourne knocked over UHS/VU to hold onto 4th and put an end to our seasons’ hopes. We felt we were capable of knocking over any side by seasons end, but will be left to reflect on the “what if’s” for seasons 2017 if we had of snuck in. We now have a fantastic springboard into next season, and with the game plan now familiar with the players, we will be in great shape for next season that’s for sure.
With another strong summer in recruiting and on the track, I feel we are poised for a successful 2018, and with new board members in Greg Nichols, Clive Driscoll, Dave Scott, and Lachy Haig bringing in a wealth of experience, things are looking good for the club. I’d like to thank my loyal assistants in Sean Hanrahan, Chris Adames and Rohan Walmsley for all of their support and hard work throughout the year, to the trainers in Xanthe, Molly and Annabelle you girls are the best, and most of all to all of the players for all of their efforts in my first year as senior coach. With training to kick off mid November, get excited as we are in for one hell of a ride next season!
……love always Doaky…….#2018yearofthesnake……..