MAIDEN GULLY YCW FOOTY
Coach: Damian Francis (2nd year)
Last year: Eighth.
Patrick Cummins, Bailey Graham, Tom Harrington, Liam Hawkey, Matthew Roberts, Jordan Waldron, Mark Webb.
Nick Waterson, Luke Bell, Mitch Collins, Liam Collins.
Sportsbet flag odds: $51
Player points: 46
R1 v Inglewood (a)
R2 v bye
R3 v Calivil United (a)
R4 v Newbridge (h)
PAST FIVE YEARS
New name, new home ground and new faces brings fresh expectations for the Maiden Gully YCW Eagles.
The name change and move from traditional home base at Backhaus Oval to Marist College in Maiden Gully was built around the club’s long-term sustainability, but it has also helped instill some excitement around the club’s short-term on-field fortunes.
“The facilities are amazing and the ground is in terrific condition,’’ coach Daniel Francis said.
“It’s an exciting time for the cub. We’re really looking forward to getting amongst the community out there in Maiden Gully.
“Maiden Gully has a terrific junior club and we’re looking forward to working closely with them.”
The Eagles have lost key quartet Luke Bell, Nick Waterson, Mitch Collins and Liam Collins, but they’re excited about their recruiting campaign.
Ruckman/forward Patrick Cummins is assistant coach and fitness coach for the Eagles and he’s made a big impression in the pre-season.
Midfielder Matthew Roberts will add a hard-edge to the Eagles midfield group, Tom Harrington can play at either end of the ground, while former Maldon star Mark Webb will hold down a key defensive post.
Defender Bailey Graham (Sandhurst) and forward Jordan Waldron (Golden Square) are young players from the BFNL who look set to make a mark in senior footy in the LVFNL.
Q & A with Daniel Francis
Q: How do you go about replacing four of your best players in Luke Bell, Nick Waterson, Mitch Collins and Liam Collins?
We would have loved for them to stay around, but they’ve all left for the right reason. Luke had the chance to coach his hometown team and the other three wanted to play footy at a higher level.
They were really good servants of how club and played some amazing footy over the journey and we wish them all the best.
We feel as though we’ve been able to bring in some quality players to try and fill their spots.
Q: Where is the improvement going to come from if you’re to make a charge for the top five?
We’re still a young group, so that senior experience we got into the younger boys last year will hold us in good stead. I think that’s why we started to play some good footy late in the year last year.
We’ve been able to bring in some experienced players that have played good footy around the region and I feel as though our fitness this year has gone to another level.
We won the under-18 premiership last year and some of those young players will come though and get their chance at senior level.
MAIDEN GULLY NETBALL
Coach: Christie Griffiths (fourth year)
Last year: Fourth
Shaeden Riding (Rochester); Lauren Vanderleest.
No A-grade losses.
C-grade: Janelle Wilson
C-reserve: To be confirmed
17-and-under: Jo Artavilla
15-and-under: Leisa Barry
Minis: Christie Griffiths
LAST THREE YEARS
MAIDEN Gully YCW coach Christie Griffiths is adamant her side can take another few steps forward this season after a fourth place finish in 2016.
The Eagles may have surprised many Loddon Valley followers with their elimination final win over Bridgewater, but their coach was not one of them.
She said the challenge now was to build on that momentum and the youthful enthusiasm of emerging stars like Stephanie Donnellon, Sidney Niemann and Laura Hamilton.
The Eagles have recruited Shaeden Riding, who was Rochester's B-grade best and fairest last season in the strong Goulburn Valley league competition, and also added Lauren Vanderleest, who is returning to netball.
Two-time league best and fairest Leisa Barry adds the experience.
Griffiths said the name change and relocation to Maiden Gully had generated extra enthusiasm, with the girls keen to don their new uniforms and ring in a new era with plenty of success on the netball court.
The Eagles pre-season included involvement in a tournament at Rochester last weekend and participating in the AFL Central Victoria five-a-side competition.
Q & A with Christie Griffiths
Q: Your side was one of the youngest in the competition last season, are you confident the girls can take the next step?
Absolutely. Last season we went through the season expecting to improve and I think the girls have really grown, as individuals and as a team. I certainly we hope we can go a bit further than we did last year. We have got a lot more depth from our B to A-grade from last year. We certainly have a few girls knocking on the door of A-grade.
Q: What do you need to do to bridge the gap from fourth to first?
Play as a team, back our game plan and keep improving. The basic things. Not concentrating so much on our opponets, but rather playing our game.