Season 2019 produced a wide range of results for our Premier Division side. 3 wins against finalists, were the obvious highlights including 2 victories against Pennant Hills who eventually finished 3rd and a victory against East Coast Eagles. Other wins included St George, Camden, and UTS twice. Yet some of our best performances didn’t necessarily produce victories. Both our games against the premiers UNSW were great efforts, with our first quarter at Henson Park probably our best quarter of the year.
Unfortunately, in amongst these highlights were some lowlights and missed opportunities against Camden and St George in the first round and against Manly twice. These were games where we were talented enough to win and either couldn’t put 4 good quarters together or where we just missed too many shots at goal when we were in the battle. North Shore and Sydney Uni both had too much speed, skill, fitness and system for us to manage.
It must be remembered that the last 3 years have provided 3 wooden spoons and only 5 wins in total- so 7 wins and a lot of competitive performances made us the most improved team in the comp.
How did we achieve this result?
The congratulations for this go entirely to the playing group. They worked together with a motto of being better for longer and trying to gain respect from our opposition, who at the start of the season gave us little or none.
Pre-season was pretty shaky with our numbers bolstered by our youth – boys and girls and our open women making up nearly half of our training group. This was great from a spiritual perspective, but disappointing from a Premier Division side development point of view. This clearly meant we started behind from the outset and implementing a sustainable game plan very difficult.
Thank God for Anzac Day, as this was the first time, we got our best players together and all buying in to what we were trying to achieve. This victory was really the catalyst for our improvement throughout the rest of the year as some self-belief was now a reality.
The real highlight of the year was the development of our Under 19s and Under 17s. 10 of these boys played first grade during the season and combined they played approximately 60 games of senior footy and more importantly held their own against the older, bigger bodies. This augurs well for our future. A special mention to Dion and John who managed and coached this group so well and helped the integration between youth and adults develop without a blemish. The under 19s premiership win was a just reward to both the players and these 2 guys-Well deserved.
But it wasn’t all about the youth, as a number of older players such as Andy and Patty returned to the club and added some maturity to our young group. That added to the recruitment of Nicko, Jock, Foz and the return of Ben Zoppo and the return to fitness of Doc meant that we had a pretty good balanced team. It would be re-miss of me to not mention the spiritual leaders of our club in Cal, Geordie, Jimmy, Tutts who epitomise what our club is all about.
Our leadership group of Cal, Taz, Mick Lemme, Geordie, Call Dell and DJ provided a great link between the coaching staff and the playing group. They were well supported by Matt Belbasis, Robo and Matt Magee who showed great leadership as well.
Our coaching group of myself, Rick, Stu, Dion, Specha and Catta worked well together and I wish to thank them all for their assistance and efforts. What can I say about Rick, the best board man in Sydney and a most loyal friend and assistant.
I also want to give a special thanks to Matt Piper, who was very helpful to me behind the scenes and Spanner, Nick and Carlo who were very supportive to me and the rest of the club.
As we look forward to 2020, there are a number of areas for great improvement. I hope that all the players stick around and build on the foundations we have created this year. I hope I have helped reset this great football club and pointed in the right direction to achieve the success it so dearly wants.
INNER WESTS MAGPIES PREMIER DIVISION MEN AWARDS:
Ken Champion Medal – Tyler Blake 44 Votes
Runners-up – Patrick Wilmot & Jock White 42 Votes
Most Consistent – Matthew Belbasis 40 Votes
Bernie Brown Most Courageous – Josh Robinson
Coaches Award – Ben Zoppo
Peter Berecz Memorial Trophy – Players’ Player – Patrick Wilmot