Shepparton News

WHOLE CREW BACK ON BOARD AT ECHUCA

ECHUCA’S COACHES ALL BACK ON BOARD FOR NEXT SEASON WITH UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO COMPLETE

- By Meg Saultry

A burning desire to further capitalise on their recent dominance has led to all five football coaches at Echuca Football Netball Club recommit for next year.

Leading the senior men’s team will again be joint coaches Andrew Walker and Simon Maddox, with current captain Kane Morris signing on as assistant coach.

Experience­d players Ruory Kirkby and Ben Reid have also committed as forward and backline coaches respective­ly.

Troy Murphy will again go round as reserves coach after his team’s undefeated campaign this year and will be supported by assistant coach Trav Brown.

Leo Tenace will lead the club’s under-18 list, while Jayden Howe will mentor the under-16s in what will be the team’s second year in the competitio­n.

On the women’s side, Damian Dalziel, who was named the Northern Country Women’s League Coach of the Year, returns to guide his players on their quest for a maiden premiershi­p.

All five coaches led their teams to minor premiershi­ps this year, and as such, Echuca club president Ash Byrne said it was a tremendous outcome to have them all on board.

“It gives us that stability and all the guys have been doing a great job,” Byrne said.

“To have them all recommit, it gives us a really good starting point heading into 2022.”

Maddox said he and Walker had spoken extensivel­y throughout the year about the upcoming season, though it was the way this year’s campaign ended that gave them the most motivation to return.

Having called an abrupt end to the home-and-away season last month, the Goulburn Valley League cancelled the remainder of the season due to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, preventing any finals series from being played.

“We’ve all been around for a fair bit of time, so we want to make sure it’s all in the best interest of the footy club to keep going,” Maddox said.

“But we have felt we’ve been robbed a bit in the last two years. We’ve been playing pretty good footy the last two years and we haven’t had a chance to put any silverware in the cabinet.

“We were confident our best footy was good enough in all grades this year and we felt in a month’s time we would have done that and won those premiershi­ps, but no-one else knows that.

“We didn’t want to win a premiershi­p in any form of tokenism. We want to earn everything at Echuca footy club.

“We all agreed we couldn’t end on the note of the season that just was.”

Echuca’s football department had an unpreceden­ted season this year following a year out of the game, with only three defeats across the board.

Prior to that, its seniors, reserves and women’s teams finished runner-up during the 2019 season, while the under-18s ultimately won the f lag.

And with little changes expected at Victoria Park in regards to the playing group, the future continues to burn bright for the Murray Bombers.

“We’re always striving to get better and the footy department is no different,” Byrne said.

“The feeling has been quite positive toward 2022 and the preparatio­ns have already started.

“There will be some challenges out there, but I’m sure the coaches will be ready and respond to them.”

Maddox said his hope for next year was the return of a “good oldfashion­ed footy season”.

“COVID has been really taxing on everyone. Talking to Andrew, we’ve expended so much more energy this year than any other,” Maddox said.

“There has been so much outside noise, but it’s hard to remove yourself from it when all of society and everything we talk about for 18 months has been COVID.

“It’s taken its toll on a lot of people, but hopefully we can get 12 months where we can get back to old-fashioned footy and good crowds watching and young local blokes running around.

“Back to footy as we know it and re-establish some old rivalries and have a beer with the opposition after the game.”

The club is expected to announce its netball coaches in the coming weeks, while its under16 Shepparton District Junior Football League coach is still to be determined.

 ?? Picture: Steve Huntley ?? Coach’s orders: Simon Maddox (pictured) and Andrew Walker have re-signed as senior coaches at Echuca.
Picture: Steve Huntley Coach’s orders: Simon Maddox (pictured) and Andrew Walker have re-signed as senior coaches at Echuca.

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