Flags the icing on the cake for Cats

LBU celebrates last week's preliminary final win over Leitchville-Gunbower.

FOR Lockington-Bamawm United president Stephen Randall, premierships are the icing on the cake.

While football clubs are often judged on the amount of senior silverware in their trophy cabinet, that plays second fiddle to Randall.

More importantly for Randall - not that he knocks back success when it comes - is ensuring a continued welcoming and family environment at the club.

Get that part right and as the Cats have experienced over the past three years, it creates a platform for success throughout the club.

The Cats have won the past three Heathcote District Football League senior premierships, and on Saturday will vie for their fourth in a row against North Bendigo at Huntly.

“We work hard to try to be an all-inclusive club where we not only strive for success at senior level, but right through the football and netball ranks,” Randall said this week.

“I think people are more inclined to work for a club if they feel part of it and that’s probably the key to it.

“It’s not just the players who have to feel welcome, but their families as well.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to maintain the local content in our club and that’s very important.

“It’s a challenge on an ongoing basis to keep the locals happy and we appreciate the realisation that it’s very hard to win senior premierships without bringing in some players from outside the club.

“We’ve certainly been incredibly lucky in the players we’ve brought to the club.

“That’s not withstanding, though, that you’ve got to create an environment where those players not only want to come, but they want to stay as well.

“If you’ve got the right quality people at the club, hopefully, you don’t get the ones who are only there for money, and that’s what we try to avoid at all costs.

“Of course, winning is all part of the enjoyment, but we’d like to think it goes a bit deeper than that.”

In what’s an indication of the environment the Cats have created, 14 of the players who were part of the first of the flag hat-trick in 2011 are still at the club.

However, the Cats’ success hasn’t been limited to just the senior team.

The Cats have won three of the past five reserves premierships, while between 2007 and 2011 the club won five under-17 flags in a row.

Of course, winning is all part of the enjoyment, but we'd like to think it goes a bit deeper than that - Stephen Randall

“The quality of the coaches we’ve had in our juniors, and then the retention of those juniors has been absolutely critical,” said Randall, who is in his second season as Cats’ president.

“It’s one thing to top up a list with four or five players, it’s another thing to go out and buy a list, and that’s where we’ve been fairly fortunate with our juniors.

“We see those under-17s as a vital part of our club, and with the reserves, they provide the depth within the club.”

The Cats’ run of three senior flags in a row began in 2011 when - a year after losing to the undefeated Heathcote in the 2010 grand final - they beat the Saints by a goal.

That win was the Cats’ first premiership since 1987.

“That win after so long without a flag was really special and you certainly don’t get sick of the feeling of playing finals or tired of the idea of winning premierships,” Randall said.

“As long as that doesn’t become the prime focus... it’s the icing on the cake.

“It’s all about the people at the club.”

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