Shepparton News

Leaders have pride in their Lions

- By LIAM NASH

A strong year with an even stronger crop of homegrown talent has led to Stanhope reappointi­ng Mark Patten and Denis Grinter as senior mentors for next year.

The specialist coaching duo steered Stanhope to third in this year’s Kyabram District League campaign, pinning faith on their local Lions to get the job done in a season saturated with rifts in the fixture.

Which begs the question; what could they produce in an uninterrup­ted year?

“It’s our third year coaching together and we haven’t been able to complete a season, so we’d like to get a full season in for a start,” Patten said.

“This year we mainly focused on local talent and had a reasonable run with injuries.

“We got games into some blokes who wouldn’t normally play and we managed to grab a couple of scalps along the way, so we were very happy with how it all finished off.”

Being from the area, Patten knows the value in maintainin­g a local substratum within the club.

It is one of the reasons behind how the side kept a 9-2-2 record when Melbourne was plunged into lockdown mid-season and, most importantl­y, it is the Stanhope way.

“It’s always been our mantra at Stanhope to utilise local talent, it has always worked well for us, that mindset,” Patten said.

“I’m pretty big on it and think that’s the way to go; for us, it’s about having blokes on the track.

“That is what coaching is all about, working one on one to get the most out of guys and have them fit, rather than going bang and grabbing ready-made players.

“We all grab a few, you get what you can and what you need, but teaching, developing and getting the best out of players is where Denis and I get our satisfacti­on.”

Patten is selling himself and Grinter short when talking of getting the best out of his playing group.

When push came to shove, the pair called upon players who were plucked out of the reserve grade and asked to stand up.

And rise to the occasion is exactly what they did.

“I was quite surprised at the results of some of the guys who’d been playing in reserves in previous years, how they nearly became in our best six players as it turned out,” Patten said.

“I’ve got on the front foot with a few other guys who’ve been in the wilderness with their footy for a few years and challengin­g them to try and step up to senior footy next year.”

Losing players is inevitable in the COVID-19 climate and Patten has indicated Stanhope is not immune.

However, trusting their methods and instilling a “bleed for the badge” mentality into players is likely to make up for whatever departures occur in the off-season.

“We’re very keen to go, (Denis and I) get on well, the way we set the show up doesn’t cause any conf lict and the players like the setup,” Patten said.

“We’ll do whatever we can next year knowing it is getting harder and harder each year for all clubs.”

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