A Message From the Football Operations Manager

A message from the Football Manager


Good morning all and welcome to Season 2014. I trust you have all enjoyed the Christmas break, probably a little too much in my case!

I am typing this open letter with great enthusiasm and optimism for Season 2014. Looking back on 2013, and even back to the tail end of 2012, we saw our club faced with the numbers struggle once again – player losses from various ADF postings and deployments, a few retirements, some went elsewhere – some of these problems are faced by most clubs, yes, but a very unique set of circumstances that only our club can face all of them at once.

We resolved to keep the club alive, by reducing our teams from 3 (all finals participants in 2012) to just 1 team, something we have done before back in 2005/06, something drastic that was required to keep us going with a view to rebuilding again in the future. We were written off by those at AFL HQ, with a prediction of 8th spot. Sadly for that budding Nostradamus, we didn’t play to that particular script, and came within a few kicks of that elusive GF berth. For those that played last year, I’m sure the fire is burning in you as much, if not more, than it is in me.

With a youthful squad in 2013, an average age of roughly 23-25, and brimming with talent, you can see why I am looking forward to 2014. We are set to gain several players back, and so far have only seen the departures of Grant Hoffmann to Albatross, and Michael Botham who is returning to his home town on the sunny Central Coast. On this note, I’d like to thank Botho and Hoff for their contributions to our club, Botho only in his first year of footy performed far beyond expectations and will be missed, and Hoff, having plied his trade since 2010 with great endeavour both on AND off the field, a very popular member of the Bensons Family. Good luck boys, and Botho, do us all a favour and don’t play for Gosford!

At this point, I’m pleased to announce that I have been appointed with the role of the Playing Co-Coach, and will be joined by Mark ‘Johno’ Johnston as Non Playing Co-Coach. Johno and I had several discussions after the season had finished and decided to put an application forward to coach in ’14. The team was ably led by Chris Kyle and Mick Gray through 2013, and both Disco and Sunny should be applauded for their efforts in their first year as Co-Coaches of our Senior grade team. To step up to the role so late and take the boys to a Preliminary Final is a fantastic achievement, and both will be heavily involved with Johno and myself to tap into their player knowledge. The game style they had introduced will most certainly be implemented this coming season, coz if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

For those unaware of his background, Johno has been one of the most successful coaches while he was involved at Hawkesbury ARFC a Junior level coach, and most recently set up and led our first Under 18s team in 2012 with Dom Shipley, it was the first Colts team since the mid 2000s, with Ethon, Seb and Harry just to name a few of those that cemented their spots in the 2013 Div 3 team.  Prior to this, Johno had coached at Holroyd-Parramatta at Colts level to 3 straight final series, as well as Quakers Hill juniors and before that, playing and coaching at Baulkham Hills and Parramatta for many years.  Johno bringing unrivalled experience to the table, and has the innate ability to develop players to excel at our great game. Johno and I also worked together as selectors for the Greater West Football Association, and I have personally known Johno for close to 20 years, and I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with, and learn from, one of the best football minds in Sydney.

For me, this will be my 6th year of coaching Senior football at the Jets, something I am very proud of, and my 4th year in charge of the Senior Grade, ranging from Division 2 in 2007 to Division 4 in 2006. Knowing the playing list Johno and I have been lucky enough to inherit from Disco and Sunny and seeing the potential for this squad, then you can see where our enthusiasm comes from! Knowing how far we came last year and our stunning run through finals should make YOU as enthusiastic as we are! I hope and trust EVERY player from last year backs up for 2014, because if we all do the right things, apply ourselves to pre-season and weekly training, I can tell you from experience, there’s no better feeling to be the last team standing at the end of a season. But it doesn’t come easily, finals are never gifted to you, let alone the opportunity to play in a Grand Final, but it is something special that no-one can ever take away from you, and something you will look back on with great pride and you’ll make friends for life.

Looking forward to 2014, we are also very keen to return to a Senior and Reserve Grade team, as it was hard for all involved to have players miss out week to week in 2013. This team will be fielded in Division 5, a great entry (Or re-entry) level for new players, or those wishing to just kick a footy around with mates on a weekend. Best described as Social footy! But, we do need a solid commitment from those interested in playing Division 5. Players of higher ability SHOULD and will be encouraged to play Division 3, and as I made the error in 2009 of letting players of higher ability run around in Reserve grade, I can assure you I will not be letting that happen again.

As you would also know, teams don’t function just on the field, so building a D5 team will also require a Coach/es, Manager, Club Umpire and Physio/Trainer, and these will all be sourced within due time, but we need a team first, so please inform myself, Johno or Domma of your interest, talk a mate or two into coming down for a kick, meet some new people, we have a great social network at Bensons Lane.

Well, that’s my New Years ramble complete. I ask all of you, please, put in that extra effort in 2014. I’ve been doing some running of late to get myself fit, and still have that loss to Randwick burning in me. I want to go further than a Preliminary Final this year, I know we can, but the hard work starts NOW. Well, on the 28th January it does, but get some KM’s into the legs first! Pre-Season will begin Tuesday 28th Jan at Bensons Lane No 3 from 6pm, and every Tues/Thurs from there. Please bring runners AND boots, your own water, towel and sunscreen, and the RIGHT attitude.  The season starts 29th March and we will play trials from 1st March, including an overnight trip to Canberra to face off against Eastlake, which promises to be a fun filled ‘bonding’ weekend! Nothing suss though.

We have a great opportunity at Bensons Lane this year, it’s just up to you guys to commit to it, and let Johno and myself guide you on and off the field.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss, and I look forward to a huge turn out on January 28th at Bensons for the start of what promises to be a strong year at Bensons Lane.

Keep your eye on the white and the blue


Senior Co-Coach / Football Operations Manager 2014


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