Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.

Senior Men 2022 season review


By Senior Men's Coach Luke Mahoney

“You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down.” Muhammad Ali

For the last four years the Senior Men’s team set themselves a goal of making the Prem B finals. After remaining in Prem B in 2019, not playing in 2020 and finishing 6th in 2021, there was a quiet confidence that this goal could be achieved off the back of hard work and development in our younger players.

Our pre-season was well attended before Christmas with the majority of our list returning and looking forward to getting a full season. There were some hiccups along the way as our players took their turns in quarantining for seven days as either a positive COVID case or close contact. Our theme was to be adaptable as each challenge was thrown at us individually or as a squad (five byes during the year!).

Two intra-clubs and three practice games gave us a solid platform to launch into round 1 and had the coaches excited by the new talent that had arrived and developing players. We had some changes in the Leadership Group with Jack Hart stepping up to the co-captain role with Julian Turner. We added new members in Jack McKay and Tom Wilson to assist Nathan Ligris, Ted Clayton, Don Toohey and Ross Borland.

The group was fortunate to participate in a leadership program led by former AFL player James Podsiadly. The program gave the leaders across all Fitzroy teams the opportunities to understand their strengths as leaders and tools to use to make good teams great. Our coaching group also had a change with Matt Larkin the former North Melbourne champion coming on the senior coaching panel and Silvano and Kane taking the reins of the Thirds Gold team.

Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, we did not have enough players to form an Under 19 team. From this disappointment came an opportunity with U19 players joining the Senior squad and being able to train and connect with senior members and coaches of the team.

The season finally kicked off again and this time it was finals aspirant Beaumaris. It is fair to say it was a first quarter to forget with seven unanswered goals on the board to Beauy, five coming from free kicks! From there we slowly worked our way into the game and ended up falling short by a goal (hmm sounds familiar). We then followed up with a loss away to AJAX at Elsternwick Oval 2 and it appeared that from the outside, things hadn’t started well.

The ANZAC Day game against Williamstown finally got us a win on the board and the belief that we were going ok. From there we slowly made our way up the ladder, the catalyst being a huge away win against St Bedes to celebrate club legend Ross Borland's 200th game. 200 was the popular number that month as our three-time B&F winner Max Ellis also knocked game 200 up against Carey and Jack Atkinson also reaching that number against St Bedes in the Reserves. Three great clubmen who have been fantastic role models for the younger generation.

Image: Phyllis Quealy

The trickiest part of the season was definitely during June and July where we played only two games in six weeks due to the Queen's Birthday, the two-week comp bye and another bye due to the uneven number of teams in the competition. As a squad we really focused on winning those two games against AJAX and Williamstown to try and set us up for a finals tilt. The team was challenged in both games but did enough to collect the eight points and put us equal fourth with six games to play.

In the final six games we ended up going 3—3 and finishing two games clear in fourth. As we know, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. A loss to DeLa when in front at half time was certainly one game we would like again along with the big loss against Old Haileybury in the twilight match. On the positive side we fought hard to knock off St Bedes again. And the final H&A game with our season on the line against Beaumaris was our best win of the year.

The Old Haileybury game was definitely a season turner for us. We were awoken by that result; it was a cruel reminder that for us to compete with the best, we needed to be ready to go from the start and set the tone. To respond like we did and nearly reverse the 79-point loss in the first final is a remarkable effort and testament to the character of the group. I am very proud of the players efforts at Coburg that day. Our pressure, attack on the ball and willingness to stick to the plan was first class.

It was also the first time I've ever heard a club chant at a VAFA game. We are very lucky to have such a loyal and passionate supporter base.

Thank you to the Board for everything they did throughout the season. Our volunteers and sponsors were also vitally important this year in a season that required all hands-on deck to get our teams through a full season.

Thank you also to our coaches who also put in a fair bit to ensure we are so prepared for training and games.

Last year I wrote in this same report that “We must be more consistent from week to week and ensure that the gap between our best and worst days are closer. The development of our younger players and our new players playing more football together will be instrumental in that.”

There is no doubt that the gap was closer this year and it was off the back of the development of our younger players. It’s an exciting time at the club and I have no doubt the group will continue to push each other to get back to playing finals footy.

This year was a club high 4th in Prem B, I know that it won’t last as the club high for long.

Go Roys!

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