Pekin: Less is more
It is far from a secret that Horsham District league club Harrow-balmoral will start this year without 11 players from its grand-final team from last year.
It is a subject that has generated plenty of discussion around regional football traps and had many speculating that the Southern Roos might fall back in the field.
But Roos coach Nick Pekin won’t have a bar of it and has gone as far as saying the club’s sights remain firmly set on a premiership.
“It’s obviously been publicised quite heavily that we’ve lost quite a few senior players. But the feeling among our group is very positive and after being runners-up for the past couple of years we’re striving to go one better,” he said.
Pekin said the departure of players, many of them Hamilton district travellers with young families, had opened the door for the club to further exploit its solid depth of young Roos.
“It’s actually pretty exciting. The plan is to bring on talented kids who are the future of the club and have been waiting for their opportunity,” he said.
Adding further to the confident outlook, when asked whether the departures were worrying him and his coaching staff, Pekin responded with a profound ‘absolutely not!’
“Sometimes less is more, if you know
what I mean. We still have the depth but the truth is this gives us a great opportunity. We’ve had 25 to 40 blokes on the track since late January and it has all been really positive,” he said.
“We have players with 20 or so games with the reserves under their belt itching to step up and lead the next core group of players.”
Pekin rattled off names such as teenagers Alastair and Hamish Mccrae, Harry Rees and Angus Atchison who were coming through the ranks and others including Lachie Stevenson, Angus Halliday and Darcy Trotman among senior candidates this year.
Pekin added Harrow-balmoral recruiting had also been productive with lofty ruckman Todd Lawrence, originally from Ballarat, joining an already relatively tall group of players.
“We also have stocky midfielder Bowes Kelly from Lake Bolac, and players coming in adding to our depth, such as Hamish Thomas from Coleraine,” he said.
Harrow-balmoral has a long history of producing tall timber and Pekin was quick to point out the potential advantage that might represent for the approaching season. “No I’m not joking – we’re going to be quite tall. I’ve never known a club to have so much height,” he said.
“I know there seems to be a lack of tall blokes going around but we tend to breed them. It certainly adds to our versatility.”
Pekin has playing assistant coaches in Simon Close, ‘training the house down’ and in charge of the Southern Roos’ forward set-up, and Hamish Ellis, looking after defence. Brent Penny is providing support from the bench with Grant Little.
Pekin said he was averse to introducing over-complicated football strategies and directions and would simply ask the Roos to follow a ‘keep it simple stupid’ formula.
“It reality much of what is needed in country footy is based on winning your own footy – or, if you like, ‘see ball, get ball’ and making sure you enjoy yourself. We can build around that basic type of planning,” he said.
Harrow-balmoral finished second on the ladder behind Southern Mallee Giants, which have left the competition to join Wimmera league, with 14 wins and two losses.
It progressed through the finals strongly with only the Giants standing in its way and actually had more scoring shots than its opponents in the grand final.
The club has had practice matches against Maryvale and Bordertown and will take on Pimpinio at Balmoral in a season opener on April 7.