It was always going to be pretty hard to match the success the club has had over the previous two seasons, however, it could also be said – it depends how you define success.
Another pre-season rolled around using a variety of venues – Wishart Reserve, Thomas Street, St James and Boss James. We had picked up a few new recruits in Matty Robbins, Ned Fallon, Sam Bradford, Sam Macgregor and Kyle Docherty to go with the expectations that we would get full seasons from injury plagued Nath Smith and Cam Sharp. Our co-Captain, Daniel Corp, wasn’t going to be in Boston for the majority of the year so things were looking good. At this stage, picking our best 22 from all available was looking like becoming a very difficult task, which is what we needed.
On a beautiful April afternoon, the season go off to a great start with a 69-point win over Mazenod who last year were pushing finals until a couple of injuries late in their season meant they finished mid table. The season couldn’t have started any better but we knew we would be tested over the next few weeks.
Rounds 2 to 4 saw games against “The Big 3” (the three teams who were widely tipped at the beginning of the start of season to finish top 3). Although competitive in all three, we had losses to St Bedes/Mentone, Old Brighton and St Kevin’s. It is worth noting that we were leading during the last quarter against St Bede’s in round 2, were down by 20 odd points going into the last quarter with the wind against Old Brighton when the rain decided to come, and were the only team throughout the entire season (including finals) to score over 100 points against St Kevin’s in Round 4. These results showed that whilst we probably weren’t up to these three sides, we certainly weren’t far off!
Convincing wins in rounds 5 (Parkdale Vultures) and 6 (Caulfield Grammarians) only reinforced that we were not a “fighting relegation team”, but that we could push for the top 4.
The next fortnight produced arguably our most embarrassing day along with our most spirited win. To go down the way we did against Old Melbournians when we were 3-3 was a real shame. The best thing to come from it was the following week, a fighting win against AJAX which put us back level at 4-4 with one game to go before the half way mark.
We built up our round 9 game against Fitzroy, had we have won, we would’ve been sitting just outside the four at the half way mark. Fitzroy’s results had shown us that they were around the same mark as us. By 5pm that Saturday, they were way ahead of us. I think this game is where our performance started to drop off which was due to a number of things.
Two more wins against Mazenod (round 11) and Caulfield (round 14) meant that unless there were some extraordinary results in the last four rounds, we were safe from relegation and would be playing B grade in 2016.
The aim was to try and get a couple more wins in the remaining rounds to see if we could get the win/loss ratio looking a bit better. It wasn’t to be. Some disappointing results ended the season and we looked flat in plenty of them. The end of the season really couldn’t come quick enough. In saying that, there were some reasons for this.
The biggest and most astounding reason is the number of players we used in the SENIORS this year – 56. This number is HUGE! It would be interesting to see the last time a team has used this many players in a single season yet managed to avoid relegation and finish 7th. Add to this the amount of games missed by key personal. The following is a list of 2014 premiership players and how many games they MISSED this year; Ting (9), Sharp (13), Verlin (16), Smith (11), Devereaux (7), Clements (6), McPherson (7), Care (13), Martyn (14), Traeger-Haig (11), Toouli (10), Schmitz (16) and Kelso (12). Add to this list, two of our recruits, Macgregor (12) and Docherty (9), and you start to see where the drop off probably came from. You simply can’t have this much talent, missing this much football and still expect to be competing for finals. A positive was obviously getting games into some younger, less experienced people who will no doubt benefit from this in the coming years.
The year wasn’t a success in terms of winning a premiership and/or playing finals. However, we managed to stay up in B grade and can now hopefully build on what we achieved this year and push into the top 4 next season under the guidance of Owen Lalor. I am seriously excited about the opportunity to play under him and see what he can do for this football club both on and off the field.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hampton Rovers Football Club for the opportunity to coach the club over the last three seasons. I am extremely appreciative of the experience and memories I have had. I’ve learnt so much about people, footy club and obviously, coaching.