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Flying high under the radar


It’s very hard to fly under the radar when you finish top of the ladder, but that’s exactly the desire of our newly re-appointed reserves men’s coach Bernie Carter.

This week Bernie joined Luke Mahoney with a two-year extension to his contract; a fitting reward for his work this year.

It’s fair to say the best performed home and away side at Fitzroy in 2018 has exceeded expectations and the coach is the first to admit it.

“At the beginning of the season, not knowing who we might have in the squad, we looked at last year’s results and what it took to make finals and the initial goal was nine wins. To exceed that is just fantastic. The group has done extremely well; they’ve adapted to a new game plan and they’ve all bought into what we’re trying to achieve, which makes the coaching job easier.”

Bernie says he and the team are excited and nervous, but they recognise the great opportunity that awaits them with the start of the VAFA Finals series this weekend.

“In a way the nerves are because we finished on top – there are expectations now that we need to follow it through. It is a great opportunity and some of the guys haven’t played in finals since 2012.

“All the hard work they’ve done from November until now is all about trying to realise that ultimate goal and we have a couple of weeks to see if we can.

“If we win a flag fantastic, but if we don’t then we know there has been so much progression from the team and the squad since last year.”

Whilst admitting to a few sleepless nights in his quest to work with the team to win this weekend’s semi-final, Bernie knows the firm focus of the club is about the senior side’s promotion

“We’ll be doing all we can to support that and to support Luke. We’ve been doing that all year in terms of playing players in roles so they are ready for senior selection and adopting the club’s game plan.”

One of the biggest challenges in the lead up to this game may well be team selection. “After the last game I said to them, we can’t fit 35 into 22. But we have had a team-first approach all year. All 35 guys have contributed to getting us this far and they are part of the team; it’s not about individuals. I have advised them to keep training and make sure they are ready for selection, because the side selected may well depend on match ups, injuries, conditions… we will select the 22 to put us in the best position to win the game for Fitzroy.”

Bernie said he was absolutely ecstatic and a little surprised the club had shown faith in him for a two-year extension. Something he accepted after close consultation with his biggest supporter; wife Michelle.

“I’m really honoured the club has seen fit to give me another two years. I really appreciate it; I love the club, the players, the environment. When you look out at the city buildings after the games or when the Seniors run out to the song, there is just an unreal vibe and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

In typically modest style, Bernie had a long list of thankyous starting with Luke Mahoney, President Joan Eddy, Football Operations Director, Sharon Torney, and coaches Michael Pickering and Sam Bishop, but he saved particular thanks for his assistant coach Leigh Quinn and Reserves captain Jack Atkinson.

“Jack’s leadership has just been fantastic. He’s very supportive of me and I know I can bounce ideas around with him as he will with me. We’ve worked really well together and I can’t speak highly enough about what a great leader he is.”

Let’s see what the two leaders and their team can do to finish off season 2018 on a high.


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