Sport

Tough shakedown for Bloods at Chirnside Park


THE Warrandyte Bloods fell in both fixtures in their 2017 season opener, losing to a chipper Chirnside Park outfit at Kimberley Reserve on the weekend.

Both Warrandyte teams were handicapped with injuries, with several players failing to pass their midweek fitness test.

Before play commenced one minute’s silence was observed, in memory of former Chirnside Park player Brian Pedler who died October 2016.

Drew Hollingsworth, father of Reserves player Jake Hollingsworth, was also remembered.

First on the field were the Reserves: they put in a nifty defensive performance to ensure the game remained an arm-wrestle, but inaccurate goal kicking and a difficult breeze allowed Chirnside to take the spoils.

Andre Balemian kicked the first goal of the campaign for the Warrandyte Reserves and the Bloods defence looked steadfast, with Bryce Leeanarts and Drew Corke applying terrific pressure in the back half.

Chirnside made better use of the wind in the second quarter, holding Warrandyte scoreless while tacking on 18 points themselves.

Throughout the second half, returnee Daniel Large looked lively, booting a major and providing a spark down the left-hand side of the ground.

Unfortunately, while the Bloods defence was relatively strong throughout, the forwards struggled to create opportunities.

The Reserves welcome back past favourite Daniel Large, whose performance this weekend was arguably best afield for the Bloods.

Chirnside Park Reserves: 5.10.40

Warrandyte Reserves: 3.9.27

For the Seniors, windy conditions and the Bloods lack of familiarity within a new look outfit played into Chirnside Park’s hands; the Seniors were defeated comfortably after a strong first quarter.

Much like the Reserves, they started the game kicking with the breeze and hit the ground running.

Jason Fitzgerald got the Bloods revved up with an early goal, and new-recruit Ryan Tester looked comfortable off the half back line.

Former Colts player Jake Trewella was exhilarating in his Senior debut and the Bloods rattled off four majors in the first term to lead by 19 points at the first change.

Sadly, this only seemed to kick Chirnside into gear, who were far more dangerous with the breeze.

The backline began to show a few cracks, and Chirnside Park’s big forwards started to assert their dominance.

The home side slammed on nine goals for the quarter to put Warrandyte in disarray, and the Bloods were never able to recover.

Jake Bentley put in a solid shift and Tom Naughtin played a commanding role in defence, but Chirnside never looked like relinquishing control, running out a 74-point winners.

Chirnside Park Seniors: 17.17.119

Warrandyte Seniors: 7.3.45

Warrandyte will now turn their attention towards the first home game of the season after the Easter break on April 22, the first of a series of “themed” home games that will take place over the season.

“Community Day” will promote and acknowledge the support of local businesses, sponsors, and supporters, who will be encouraged to attend.

Complementing this is a ceremony for the opening of the Bendigo Bank Gym.

Warrandyte’s double delight


Warrandyte Cricket Club have had a highly successful end to season 2016/17 with their Fourth XI team and Under 14s junior team winning their respective RDCA Premierships.

In back to back games at the Warrandyte Cricket Ground, the Under 14s started off the successful weekend for Warrandyte with a five-wicket win.

Alan L. Reidy Shield

The Under 14s won the Alan L. Reidy Shield after being asked to bowl first against St Andrews at home.

Chris Rakuscek, coming off a season splitting his skills between junior and senior cricket, got the wickets tumbling early, taking two top order wickets to have St Andrews reeling.

Rakuscek (4/23) and Brady Poole (2/16) opened the bowling strongly, with Tom Jackson (2/18) and Lachie Haberfield (2/22) taking the remaining wickets on day one of the final, to dismiss the opposition within 33.2 overs and give their team a total of 108 to chase for the title.

Warrandyte capably chased down the total with Ethan Ward (13) retiring off his 50 balls at the top of the order while the middle order capably chased the total down around him.

Warrandyte batted exceptionally well in partnerships to make quick work of the runs, with Poole (43) guiding the run chase home with some smooth hitting, before Jackson (11) hit the winning boundary to give the juniors win.

The flag tops off a great season for the junior program, with Poole becoming one of the youngest players in club history to play First Eleven Senior Cricket, and many team members making their senior cricket debut.

Neil Tull Shield

Following the big juniors win, the Fourth XI hosted Heathmont Baptist to complete for the Neil Tull Shield also at the Warrandyte Cricket Ground.

Warrandyte faced Heathmont for the fifth time this season, having beaten them successfully all season, including in the Qualifying Finals where they arguably at their tightest hit out of the season.

After captain Dean Gidley won the toss and elected to bat, Warrandyte faced some tight early bowling before losing both openers, Goddard (10) and Molyneux (9) in tight procession before the first drinks break.

James Weatherley (32) combined with Daniel Wellesley (105) with an excellent partnership to put Warrandyte back into a leading position, before Wellesley would go on to play what would be a match winning innings.

Wellesley, joined by Brett Kline (34), Ison (16), Gidley (22) and Prangley (14), would escalate the run scoring following the lunch break on day one, with some late hitting ensuring Warrandyte finished with a highly competitive 8/250 from their 70 overs in front of a large, vocal home crowd.

Wellesley’s century will long stand as one of the greater innings seen at the Warrandyte Cricket Ground, with his control and speed of bat impressing all that watched.

A confident Warrandyte returned the next day to finish the job, but knew they faced an on form top order from Heathmont.

Heathmont’s opening partnership sent nerves through the Warrandyte camp with an opening stand of 44.

However, Ison would take the crucial opening wicket and from there an essential procession occurred.

Stephen Warr toiled away from the IGA end of the ground for 16 overs throughout the day, taking a crucial wicket in the Heathmont middle order, combined with some persistent line and length from Prangley.

Ison was matched with his excellent form with the ball by captain Gidley, who finished with the figures of 4/35 including three wickets in tight order following the lunch break.

By the time Daniel Woodhead took the final wicket, caught behind by Goddard, Warrandyte would win by 80 runs and knew they had the flag in the bag.

The win marks two premiership flags for captain Gidley, but the first for club lifetime member Stephen Goddard, who after 25 years of playing at the WCC will savour the weekend’s event for a while.

Family talent Poole runs deep


 

Most families are proud to boast just one child playing high-level sport at a young age. Other families, such as the Pooles, are lucky enough to possess three. Brothers Brady (13), Darcy (16) and Jack (19) have established themselves as cornerstone members of Warrandyte’s cricket program, all playing roles in the First and Second XI for the Bloods.

The trio recently reached significant milestones within the local cricketing landscape for different reasons.

The brothers were first the talk of the town when they were all named to play together for the Second XI at the beginning of the season, before Brady made further waves when he became the youngest player in club history to run out for the Firsts aged just 13.

“We started off the year in the Twos – at the start of the season Dad said there was a huge announcement about it at the team selection – it was a big surprise that Brady was playing Twos because he played Sixes last year, and it was a really big deal that we played on the same side because we play so much cricket here in the backyard. It’s really great playing with each other,” said Darcy Poole.

After all playing together for the Second XI, Brady was eventually named in the Firsts, an honor that wasn’t lost on the young all-rounder.

“It was a big deal – I didn’t really expect it to be honest – certainly at the start of the season I didn’t expect to; just to be playing with people who have played at a good level of cricket, a level I want to play at when I’m older it’s a big deal to me.

“It’s different, there’s more persistent play.

“You play against some really good players who have had good careers in cricket and then come back down to a local level — it’s not too huge a jump from the Seconds, but it’s noticeable,” Brady says.

One of the major benefits of playing up the order for the boys has been the opportunity to play and work with club coach Jake Sherriff, which both brothers consider a massive benefit.

“When I first played with him that was one of the biggest things, playing with someone who has played district cricket; but even last year when I was in the Sixes, which is the lowest division, he was still coming down and telling me how to improve my game,” Brady said.

The family’s progression is made more remarkable when you consider just how young they are and how much experience they lack.

Both Darcy and Brady have just four years of cricket under their belt, and even less senior cricket exposure.

Despite this, both players are logging strong individual and team performances.

“I’m a batsman, I don’t really bowl much, personally I made 87 earlier this year just before Xmas,” Darcy says.

“I’m more of a bowler, and sometimes bat, but not usually in the seniors – I don’t have too many standout games, I haven’t had the standout performances like Darce – I’ve probably had more success keeping teams playing the way we want them to play,” Brady says.

The journey the brothers have taken to becoming talented cricketers began with Jack, who as the eldest was able to influence his younger siblings.

“We both started playing at the same time because Jack forced us to go down to training – it was after Christmas a while back and we had just started playing backyard cricket — he told us to come down see what is like and we haven’t stopped since,” Darcy says.

“Before we started playing cricket we didn’t even think about it, we thought it was boring, Dad would be watching it and we thought “why would you watch tha”, but we started to get into it and now we can’t stop,” Brady says.

Warrandyte Cricket Club are certainly glad that the brothers made the decision to pick up the bat and ball, and with youngest brother Oscar — aged 11 — still waiting in the wings, the Pooles may soon have another superstar wearing the baggy whites at Warrandyte Reserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warrandyte runs again


Saturday Market means the first weekend of the month is always a busy time for Warrandyte, but last Sunday Warrandyte was a-buzz with runners of all shapes, sizes and ages as the Sports Club hosted the annual Run Warrandyte fun run.
A slightly overcast morning made for perfect running conditions, the run organising committee were excited to report their best participant numbers ever with over 600 registered runners.
The run attracted many regular runners, including the Wooten family who had the whole family at the event.
Even the footy players were involved in the action.
“It’s a community event so we get the footy players involved in participation, one club one community,” said Pete Muskat, a member of the Warrandyte Football club.
The weather and the general condition of the participants was particularly good this year with
super-speedy times set in the four endurance distances.
The 15K winner, Brynton Ashton, set a time of 1:02:21 which given the hilly nature of the course is impressive.
But the day was more about families having fun through exercise, as young Henry Bate (pictured left) demonstrated when he took on the 2.2K run with his family.
Henry managed to run the course —with the help of his dad— in 23 minutes.
This year, as well as the marshals and the CFA, runners out on course were entertained with live music on the corner of Pound Bend Road; volunteer marshal Ben Treyford expressed his delight in having the addition of a live band on course.
“They were awesome, we clapped after each song and even the less serious runners had a bit of a dance as they came through,” he said.
Run Warrandyte also featured “The Gift” for its second year.
The 100m handicapped heats were,
once again, a great success and have established themselves as an integral part of the Run Warrandyte experience.
The calculated handicapping by Gift organiser, Peter Sharpe, saw competitors run their hearts out in a thrilling grand final, which saw all seven competitors finish in under 12 seconds.
The winner of the Gift was Nicolas Sharpe who ran the 100 meters in 11.335.

Gift winner Nicolas Sharpe crossing the line in the thrilling final

Commentator Craig Davidson took a few minutes to speak to the Diary and reflect on the event.
“As far as coming down here at 6am on a Sunday morning, I cannot think of any other place to be, it’s sensational.
“My fellow commentator Tim, who has commentated on a number of these events, he was astounded with the times in which the runners were coming through — especially in the 10 and 15K events.”
Our Diary photographers were out and about on the day taking some awesome snaps of the running action, check out our Run Warrandyte page on the Diary website for a selection of pictures from the event.

Full race results for the endurance distances can be found on the Run Warrandyte page of the Warrandyte Sports Club website.

Tennis hot shots at Rod Laver Arena

Four groups of young tennis players from the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program took over both Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena last Thursday as Tennis Australia renamed Australia Day the “Tennis Guru Day”.

Forty players aged seven to nine from Warrandyte Tennis Club, Warrandyte Primary School and Milgate Primary School participated in the Tennis Guru Hot Shots program on centre court.

The demonstrations highlighted some of the activities the young tennis players learn in the Hot Shots coaching program.

For half an hour the kids, aged between seven and nine years, demonstrated their skills to the crowd.

They were then followed by the professionals in their Australian Open matches.

While the kids strutted their stuff, coach Craig Haslam was interviewed by Tennis Australia for big screen crosses at the change of ends.

“These kids ran onto a huge stadium and played the game of tennis completely independent of adult support for 30 minutes.

The demonstration was not rehearsed, it was just kids having the time of their life playing tennis. I was so proud of them,” said Mr Haslam.

He must have heard the words “they are so cute” at least a hundred times that morning.

The Hot Shots tennis program demonstrations are a regular feature of the Australian Open and other demonstrations took part on the other major courts throughout the Grand Slam.

On your marks Warrandyte

WITH only one month to go, volunteers were representing Run Warrandyte at the February Riverside Market last Saturday.

The annual event, which is now in its sixth year, grows in both event size and distances.

Now a regular event in Warrandyte on the March sporting calendar, this year’s Run Warrandyte has partnered with charity Stop, One Punch Can Kill (SOPCK) making this year’s event not only a celebration of fitness within the community but also a stand, or should I say sprint, against violence too.

“We are very excited to include SOPCK in our event this year,” said David Dyason of the Run Warrandyte Committee.

“We have introduced a team fundraising aspect to this year’s event with prizes being awarded to the team which raises the most money for the charity.”

The SOPCK charity was set up in the wake of the death of David Cassai, who was a killed on New Year’s Eve 2012.

Mr Cassai had ties to the local community as he attended Warrandyte High School and often watched the footy.

The Warrandyte footy club got behind the SOPCK campaign in the 2016 season.

As one-punch deaths become an increasing problem, sports clubs are often used as a conduit to engage young people in the Stop campaign, and with the sports club contributing to the management and facilities that Run Warrandyte uses, it seems fitting to have SOPCK as the event’s first official charity.

“People like the philosophy of running, but are often put off by the physical aspect.”

“I think having a fundraising part to the run will encourage people to sign up and get out on the course,” said John, a member of the Run Warrandyte team.

The course is similar to last year with one loop that brings runners back to the sports oval; run distances are determined by the number of laps they do.

The Run Warrandyte Committee will have the usual support of the local fireys, keeping everyone cool, as well as some on-course entertainment to keep everyone’s spirits up on that long climb up to The Pound.

The Grand Hotel Gift, a 100 metre, handicapped sprint is also back after last year’s successful integration into the running event.

While registration for the Gift alone is possible, participants in the 2.2K, 5K, 10K and 15K distances are encouraged to also enter the Gift as entry for these people is complimentary.

To help with training, Run Warrandyte local personal trainer Chris of RivvaPT has produced a training plan, which is available through the Run Warrandyte Facebook page, for the 5K and 10K distances.

“We have had a number of people ask us if we can walk any of the runs,” said Mr Dyason.

“Because we have to close public roads, if people want to only walk, we suggest they enter the 2.2 or 5K event.”

The Gift and the longer runs all start and finish on the oval, where a number of local clubs and businesses are expected to be on display, making it a great morning out for both runners and non-runners.

The run takes place on March 5.

Run Warrandyte registration can be found online and the Run Warrandyte team regularly posts updates and competitions on their Facebook page.

Warrandyte’s footy girls are ready to rumble

Next year is set to be ground breaking for women’s football Australia-wide, following the inception of the National Women’s competition.

Many community clubs are following suit, placing an emphasis on boosting and developing a culture of female football at their organisation.

Warrandyte Junior Football Club is no exception, looking to field a number of girls’ teams in 2017.

About 40 girls across all age groups attended the WJFC Girls’ footy open day at Warrandyte Re- serve on November 20.

Eugene Hanson, the WJFC Colts coach and a number of club leaders and Colts players ran training drills, which were completed with intense determination, despite very hot conditions.

The girls were extremely impressive and due to the growing nature of the code, WJFC is pleased to offer young girls in the community the chance to play organised football across a range of age groups.

If you are interested in being part of youth girls football at WJFC email secretary@warrandytejfc.org

Cricket resumes: hat-trick hero Steve

CRICKET has returned to Warrandyte for the 2016/17 season, but due to some bemusing league decisions and wet pitches, there have only been six results from a possible 20 games.

Despite a few sunny forecasts on Saturdays, the RDCA has elected to call two different rounds off across the league to ensure fair competition, with varying quality in grounds. On the positive side, Warrandyte’s seniors had only lost one game by October’s end.

In the available games, Warrandyte showed extremely promising signs. The First XI and Second XI both took victories in Round 1. For the First XI, Dave Mooney started off yet another season in fine nick, posting 47 not out to guide Warrandyte to a very defendable 170 at a slow Dorset Oval.

In doing so, Mooney became the highest all time First XI run scorer, setting another record in his golden career with the club.

South Croydon was under pressure from the start, with Daniel Barry and Alex McIntosh taking apart the batting lineup with three and two wickets respectively.

Warrandyte went on to win by 45 runs.

In Round 2, Warrandyte faced a tough task at home, chasing 351 after Templeton thrashed the bowling attack around the Warrandyte Cricket Ground. Warrandyte’s coach Jake Sherriff (6/76) was reliable with the ball on a tough day, taking late scalps to peg back the wickets before Warrandyte was saved by the rain.

The Second XI was also victorious in Round 1, recording a strong home victory against Warranwood. Dale Lander led from the top of the order with 62, while new skipper Campbell Holland slashed 47 to give his side an excellent start. Lander would be promoted to the First XI the following round and Warrandyte knocked out 207 before sending in the bowling attack.

The home side was able to dismiss the Warrandwood batsmen in quick order on a fast wicket, taking a 50- run victory thanks to tight bowling from Tom Ellis (3/10) and Campbell Holland (3/13).

In other results, Warrandyte’s Third XI thanked Tyson Brent and Josh Aitken for providing 264 in their first game of the year.

On a postal stamp ground against Montrose, Brent’s batting was exceptional considering it was his first knock of the season, giving the team good faith in their batting lineup.

The Fourth XI cruised to victory in its run chase against Heathmont Baptists, returning to the holy grail ground at Stintons Reserve.

Patient batting from Dave Molyneux and direct bowling from John Prangley and Daniel Woodhead made the difference.

The Fifth XI was unable to chase down Ainslie Park, despite some strong individual performances. Ben Sprout pegged back the Ainslie Park batsmen with a ve-wicket haul, effectively closing out the innings with late strikes to hold the batters to 207.

Stephen Grocott provided hope for Warrandyte with 41no, but they eventually fell 42 runs short.

Results:
First XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte 6/170 (Mooney 47 not out) d South Croydon 8/135 (D Barry 3/20, McIn- tosh 2/16). Round 2 – Warrandyte drew Templeton 8/351 (Sherriff 6/76)

Second XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte 6/207 (Lander 62, Holland 47) def. Warranwood 157 (T Ellis 3/10, Holland 3/13). Round Two – Warrandyte drew with North Ringwood.

Third XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte drew with East Ringwood. Round 2 – Warrandyte 3/264 (Brent 106, Aitken 59 not out) d Montrose 135 (Smead 3/16, Ison 2/16). Round 3 – Warrandyte drew with Norwood.

Fourth XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte drew with Warranwood. Round 2 – Warrandyte 3/135 (Molyneux 60) d Heathmont Baptist 7/130 (Prang- ley 3/17, Woodhead 2/19). Round 3 – Warrandyte drew with South Warrandyte.

Fifth XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte drew with Croydon North. Round 2 – Warrandyte 165 (Grocott 41 not out, Jackson 32) d by Ainslie Park 7/207 (Sproat 5/34). Round 3 – Warrandyte drew with Heathmont Baptist.

Sixth XI: Round 1 – Warrandyte drew with North Ringwood. Round 2 – Warrandyte d by Heathmont Baptist (forfeit). Round 3 – Warrandyte drew with North Ringwood.

All Bodi’s well for our BMX future


BMX began during the early 1970s in the United States when children began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in southern California. Like skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and Jack Daniels, the Aussies waited for the Americans to mature, tweak and be the general crash test dummies before embracing a new culture in 1975 (even then us southerners let the Queenslanders give it a crack before taking it on).

The year 1985 saw the soil get turned for the Park Orchards BMX track. In true Green Wedge fashion the council decided to reduce, reuse and recycle by building on the old tip. This must have been very handy when a tire was popped, a quick dig of a hole and surely an old tire would’ve been found?

Thirty years later the Park Orchards BMX club has continued to prosper and it has been an exciting year with a large influx of new members joining our existing members to speed their way around the track every second Saturday afternoon for club racing.

Recently the club was very excited to announce the beginning of major refurbishments to the track. Tireless work by the committee led to the securing of a HUGE grant by everybody’s favorite Warrandyte bank, the Warrandyte Community Bank (branch of Bendigo Bank). Manningham council has also jumped on board the reinvigoration train which will see the installation of lights and the asphalting of the berms. This will bring the track up the national standard, allowing our riders to go faster (and safer) and be able to see at night (also safer).

Following on from an exciting Olympic campaign by our Aussie riders in Rio, the club hosted a “Come and Try” day in early September that saw 28 new riders come and try BMX for the first time. Rio Olympian, Bodi Turner, donated his time and expertise on the day to coach our “come and triers”. The club has since convinced Bodi into running coaching sessions every Saturday until the end of the year.

Due to some crappy wisdom that claims “with good must come some bad” the club’s bubble deflated a bit two weeks ago when the clubrooms were broken into. The dastardly thieves took off with four racing bikes. With their energy obviously waning they also rode off into the metaphorical sunset with the canteen’s supply of Mars Bars, Gatorade and Coke.

The Warrandyte community spirit was brought to the fore yet again when in response to people wanting to donate money, a Go Fund Me page was set up. The money that has been donated will enable the club to purchase some new bikes (maybe even a couple of Mars Bars). For that the club says thank you.

Under 15’s bag flag

Warrandyte Junior Football Club experienced an emotional day at Victoria Park in Kew last month with one out of two teams tasting victory in their respective Grand Finals.

The U15s side put on a masterclass to defeat Macleod comfortably by 44 points, but the U14s were left heart- broken after falling to Banyule by a solitary point in the final minute.

A hefty crowd of red and white were present to watch the young Bloods go into battle, kicked off by the Under 14s side.

Warrandyte got off to the best possible start, kicking a goal within 10 seconds of the first bounce. Slightly scrappy play ensued from then on, but the Bloods were able to hold steady and take a seven-point lead into the first change.

Banyule was sharper throughout the second term, but the Bloods found some spark with a high mark and goal to star player Chase Wallace. Brady Poole kicked a much needed steadier right before half- time to keep Warrandyte close, trailing by just a point.

Whatever was said at halftime to the Warrandyte forwards obviously had effect, because the Bloods rattled off two quick re goals right after the long break to regain control of the game.

Wallace continued to put on a show and Warrandyte looked in the box seat with a 15-point lead going into the final term.

What followed was one of the most frantic quarters of football of the season.

Banyule hit back to draw the margin to within a goal with just six minutes to play, before eventually wrestling the lead back with just three minutes on the clock. Warrandyte was unable to muster a clearcut chance and despite playing a terrific game fell agonizingly close, losing 9.8.62 to 10.3.63.

Thankfully for Bloods fans, the Under 15s side was able to record a terrific victory in their Grand Final to bring home silverware for the club.

Jack Boyd was the star of the show kicking five goals to lead the attack. Boyd was ably supported by Leo Garrick in the middle, while Lachie O’Reilly and Sam Martini were defensively sound and hard at it when it counted.

Most impressive was the professionalism and brilliant mental performance from the outfit, keeping their cool throughout in the 12.11.83 to 6.3.39 victory.

“We trained well, we kept our emotions in check, we didn’t get ahead of ourselves. We had some assistance from the Colts during the week, we understood how they (Macleod) play and we executed perfectly,” coach Eugene Hansen told the Diary. The Bloods broke Macleod down by the 15-minute mark of the rst term and from then on continued to put in a full four-quarter performance. All players were contributors, some kicked flashy goals, while others performed crucial one percenters to ensure Warrandyte was out on top when the siren sounded.

“Everyone had an equal opportunity and everyone contributed, and some of the boys probably played 15-20 percent above their usual level. Typical of that was probably Thomas Mckenzie who kicked a goal up forward, he’s not renowned for kicking goals and the celebration after that was amazing,” Hansen said.

Equally as impressive was the turnout from the Warrandyte faithful to support both sides, with Hansen noting a historical significance to the crowd that others may have missed.

“It was fantastic to see life members from the footy club there, I think around 30 years ago I was involved with winning a flag at the same age group and maybe eight or nine of that premiership side came down to watch,” Hansen said.

For both sides, making the final alone was a tremendous achievement and it seems Warrandyte Football Club has some stars in the making over the coming years.

Warrandyte junior footy teams chase flags


LOCALS are urged to put a few hours aside this Sunday to lend their support to two Warrandyte Junior Football Club teams who have made it through to the grand final in the Yarra Junior Football League.

The two teams are the Under 14s (above, celebrating a recent victory) and the Under 15s (below), who both will play at Victoria Park Lower at 12.30pm and 2.45pm respectively, which means the Red & White army of supporters can set up camp at the one venue and watch the two Grand Finals in a row.

Both teams have not only made the big dance, but are red-hot favourites and had the luxury of a weekend off after smashing victories last Sunday week.

The U15s finished their year second on the ladder with an impressive nine wins from 14 matches. They came into their semi final full of confidence after winning their last three matches of the season.

In the first week of the finals the Bloods travelled to Bundoora, who finished on top of the ladder, only losing four matches all year. Our boys dished out an impressive performance and gave the home team a lesson as they smashed Bundoora 14.14.98 d 5.4.34. The win meant the U15s could progress straight to the Grand Final and have a week off.

bloods 15s

Eugene Hanson, coach of the U15s, spoke passionately about how the boys were ready to go and had the potential (playing at their best) to win the Grand Final but had to learn to control their emotions.

“I told them don’t think about the game itself, it’s very important to make the build-up as normal as possible,” he said.

“We have been training to manage and help the players understand the emotions coming into the game. The boys lost a grand final in the U10s competition five years ago and some of them have a fear of losing, so we want to make sure their emotions don’t get the better of them.”

The U15 boys will go into the Grand Final clear favourites as they do battle with Macleod at Victoria Park Lower in Kew at 2.45pm this Sunday (August 28). The good news is our Bloods have beaten Macleod twice throughout the season by comfortable margins. A flag is looking good.

On the same day the U15s rocketed into the grand final, shortly after the U14s followed suit, giving Doncaster no chance of even a sniff of victory as they ran over them 13.5.83 to 5.12.42.

The U14 team’s road to the finals was solid as they finished the regular season on top of the ladder, winning 11 of their possible 15 games, including only one loss in the last 11 (to Preston who was bundled out last week). What made the U14s semi final win even more impressive was that Doncaster finished second, also on 11 wins, with only percentage separating the two teams.

Warrandyte will battle it out with Banyule in the Grand Final after the Bears beat Doncaster in the preliminary final by one goal on Sunday.

U14s coach Andrew Wallace says he is very confident and reckons if the boys “stay strong and work as a team” and “keep their heads up until the final siren” they can pull off a win.

Warrandyte’s U14s will play Banyule at Victoria Park Lower, Kew, at 12.30pm this Sunday (the match before the U15s).

Both coaches and the rest of the WJFC urge Warrandytians to head down to the grand finals this Sunday and support our young Bloods as they hunt for flag glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Junior Bloods’ flag tilt

Any fly on the wall at the Warrandyte Junior Football Club would be in for a real treat over the next few weeks.

With as many as five of the Bloods teams set to play in the Yarra Junior Football League finals, there’s going to be the full gamut of excitement, nerves and the pure adrenalin that comes from performing on the big stage. And, with a bit of luck, the euphoria that only a premiership victory can bring.

“It’s pretty exciting,” says Warrandyte Junior Football Club president Sarah Drew.

“As a club this is the best thing that can happen and we’re really happy for the boys.”

“The Colts [Under 16s] have been relegated into their comp with four losses and they had to make it up to get into finals. They’ve all been training hard and listening to their coaches, so it’s very exciting.”

Warrandyte has a junior side for each age division between Under 8s and Colts. As of recent competition rule changes, the Under 8s, Under 9s and Under 10s do not have official results or ladders.

Round 15 was played on Sunday to close out the home and away season before finals begin this Sunday.

With 11 wins from 15 matches, the Under 14s finished on top of the ladder to be the most successful Bloods team in the home and away season while the Under 11s ended up in second position with 10 wins and a draw from 15 games.

The Under 13s and Under 15s have also booked finals tickets. The Under 13s finished third on the ladder with nine wins for the season, while the Under 15s had a thumping 104-point victory in the last round to finish second and claim the double chance. The Under 12s had a solid year but finished eighth. The Colts scraped into the four and play finals Sunday.

The senior club will support the juniors this weekend. WFC president Peter Hookey says the senior players are excited at the prospect of inspiring the young Bloods through their finals campaign.

“We’ve sent a couple for seniors down to the Colts and Under 15 training to give a bit of leadership and education,” says Hookey. “We’re hoping they’ll see the professionalism that’s expected at a senior level and the desire to improve their football skills.”

Should kids lift weights?

YEARS ago, a video emerged showing Tiger Woods driving a golf ball like a pro. The only catch: he was just two years old at the time.

The message to parents: if you want your kids to excel in sports, you need to start them young. Of course, beyond developing specific skills—such as throwing, kicking, and swinging—improving strength, power and speed are key components of sports performance training. Which leads many parents to wonder, should my child lift weights? Some experts warn weight training at a young age can damage a child’s growth plates. And that concern has merit. There are dangers to growth plates found at the end of long bones.

The issue is, however, these injuries are almost always the result of using too much weight with the wrong technique. Smart strength training is absolutely acceptable as long as the right exercises are chosen and that the youth has an appropriate level of base strength and mobility.

Exposure to sports and fitness-based games is the best approach for younger kids. But as they reach Year 5 and 6 and high school age, you can start implementing more of a structured approach to strength training.

But we need to proceed with caution. People put too much focus on popular exercises like the bench press and start piling on weight even before a child can do 10 good push ups. Before a kid ever touches a weight, make sure he or she can perform basic body-weight exercises with perfect form.

As mentioned, push ups are a great start, pull ups, overhead squats, dips and lunges are others that can be put into perfect practice.

Two pairs of metal dumbbells on the floor used by young sportswoman

FIVE RULES FOR KIDS:

  1. Master the basics first. Work on the two movements above – the push up and overhead squat – until they can be completed correctly. (Check YouTube for video help)
  2. Focus on compound, multi-joint movements. Choose exercises that emphasize the upper back, core and hips. Less benching, more rowing. Smart exercises to include: stability-ball leg curls, inverted rows and reverse flys with light dumbbells.
  3. Stay away from most machines. Many gym machines – such as the leg extension, leg press and chest fly (pec deck) – force kids to work through unnatural movement pat- terns that have little carry over to sports and activities of daily living. (Cable machines are the exception).
  4. Watch the weights. Poor form and excessive loading are the reasons kids wind up injured. Once they’ve mastered their own body weight, start with a resistance that allows for 12 to 15 repetitions with perfect technique. Just one or two sets per exercise is fine initially, working up to a maximum of three once strength and endurance improve. Be sure not to take any sets to the point of muscular failure.
  5. Use a variety of strengthening equipment. Medicine balls, bands, and cable-based machines allow for three-dimensional movement. These are ideal because they offer kids variety, while training balance and stability just like free weights.

If your kids are keen to improve their skills and strength, improve their performance on the netball court or football ground, get them started correctly with some perfect- ly performed strength and functionality training exercises.

Born to run: Warrandyte River Runners

The Warrandyte riverside is often a hive of activity, frequented by strollers, dog walkers, cyclists, duck feeders, romantic lovers and families.

The odd runner is not an unusual sight either, but if you go down to the riverside on a Saturday morning, and you go down there early enough you are likely to see a small contingent of runners, running up and down the riverside path between Stiggants Reserve and the bridge.

These are the Warrandyte River Runners, a local running group.

Started in January 2010 by a local couple, Rob and Jodi Clark, who have now moved on, the River Runners are now in their sixth year.

“The first run had nine starters and we average about the nine to 10 mark most weeks,” says Paul, a regular Warrandyte River Runner and chief organiser of the group.

“Over the six years, we have had nearly 170 that have had at least one run with us,” he said.

They meet almost every weekend and run a course that is split into four distances: 2km, 3km, 4km and 5km. The 2km is just for fun, but the longer distances are part of the group’s seasonal competition.

“The three, four and five kilometres are all handicapped so that runners should end up about the same time. This gives some fun endings to the run, when several runners come in at roughly the same time,” Paul explains.

The goal of the run, whatever your distance, is to run the course as close to 30 minutes as possible.

Each runner is therefore given a handicap calculated on the difference between 30 minutes and your PB for your nominated difference: for example, I have run with the River Runners a couple of times and can run a 5K in about 24 minutes, so my handicap is six minutes, which means I start six minutes after the official start of the weekly run.

“I think the handicap system is great,” exclaims Jozica Kutin, a regular runner with the group.

“I found it really complicated to begin with, but once I understood it, it was great, because you can then compete against other people who are really good runners and it’s basically all up to the finish line.”

The year is broken up into seasons, at the end of each season the runner with the most points receives a prize.

Although the bite size running seasons and promise of spoils for the winner add a level of competitiveness to the runs, it seems that was never Rob Clark’s goal.

“He was someone we aspired to; I aspire to run like him (Rob),” says Nada, a fellow Warandytian and River Runner of about three years.

But when asked what she got out of running with the group she said: “Friendship, commerardary, motivation, support.”

Then after a gentle prod by another runner.

“Trophies, chocolates and wine!” she says with a smile and a laugh, “I have been fortunate to have trophies, chocolates and wine.”

Even in social active groups, especially in an activity like running, the competitive nature is hard to avoid, as I experienced on a recent run: I spent my entire 5K chasing down the run’s winner Jozica, who pipped me at the post by about 30 seconds in the end.

She was able to celebrate her 100th run with a PB and a race win.

If you are a keen distance runner and the idea of merely running 5km is not very appealing, Paul says: “Many people will join us as part of preparing for longer distances like 10km, half-marathons and marathons.”

This bears all the hallmarks of a regular running club, but the River Runners do not see themselves that way.

“I think the thought of joining a running group is daunting. It puts people off,” says Jozica. “But it’s not like that with this group, four of us did the Geelong half-marathon, it was great to go and do extra training runs during the week, we all went together … it’s much more relaxed.”

The Warrandyte River Runners were instrumental in the organisation of the inaugural Run Warrandyte back in 2012.

“Many have even been involved as competitors and/or officials in the annual Run Warrandyte event,” says Paul.

One of the younger Warrandyte River Runners, Alicia Callahan, was first female in the 12-17 category at this year’s Run Warrandyte.

Alicia was last season’s Warrandyte River Runner runner-up in the kids category. The winner of that season, Tessa, is near the the top of the current season’s standing.

I asked teenager Tessa what she gets out of running with the River Runners.

“It’s really relaxing to do it. Like, if you’ve had a stressful time at school or something, it’s just like you just run and when you’ve finished, you feel really great and you can do whatever you want because you are not stressed anymore and you feel really relaxed,” she told the Diary.

Peter from Warranwood adds: “I find I actually run more now to keep my number of runs up – for the participation, the competition. I ran professionally, so the competition is good, because it fills that void to some extent… but the exception is this lady (Tessa) bloody always tries to beat me.”

A bit of rivalry is healthy and it binds the group together.

“The handicap system that we use to make it competitive gives everyone, sort of, equal opportunity to be involved and to achieve whatever it is they want to achieve,” says Peter, “it’s a great spirit and, for me, one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in.”

The group meets most weekends. All the group ask is that you give it a go and provide a gold coin donation for the pleasure.

“Come along and try it,” says Nada. “If you connect with us, we’d love to see you again. If you don’t. Well, you’ve given it a go”.

Young gun can really motor

Most two-year-old children struggle to run, let alone get up on a bike. But this wasn’t the case for Broc Taylor.

Now aged eight, Broc began his motorbike journey with a dummy in his mouth and is now competing at national level.

Sponsored by Peter Stevens Motorcycles of Ringwood, Broc has come on in leaps and bounds, largely due to the support from father Mick and coach Joe Stevens. Competing in Victorian titles throughout the year and nationals in September, Mick believes the sky is the limit for Broc.

“My older boy rides as well, so for Broc the bike was just there, we slapped the training wheels on it and off he went,” Mick says.

This is his second year of competition and he’s had mixed results in the Vics. But the class he’s racing in is for kids up to 12 years old and if he gets a good start he’s good enough for the top 10.”

Broc rides two different bikes, both 65 and 50cc classes, and trains on many different styles of track, including clay, gravel and sand. The potential for Broc is obviously high and coach Joe Stevens has a key role to play in helping him reach it.

“I run a race team and coach a program out of Peter Stevens. My company is M.A.D (moto-x athlete development), it’s a coaching pro- gram for the sport, and through the store we have a support program for kids like Broc we run coaching and racing and the store provides the gear and the bikes,” Joe says.

“We do weekly training sessions across different tracks in the South East, we were in Mildura last weekend to race, basically we just have to follow the races as they come. He’s winning at club level already, but obviously the level jumps when it gets to nationals.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Broc was destined to become a star on a bike; it’s in his blood, after all. Mick was a keen rider throughout his childhood and Broc’s brother was also quick to take to motorbikes as well.

Broc is obviously going places, but for now it can still be about the simple pleasures.

“I love jumping because it’s a lot of fun and the hardest bit is to ride fast through muddy places. I want to be a pro,” Broc says.

When asked if he was scared at all about being on the bike, Broc’s answer was an emphatic “no” and even though he’s only eight, you can’t help but believe it.

Warrandyte’s mighty hat trick

WARRANDYTE Cricket Club has experienced another successful year, taking home three senior premierships in the Ringwood District Cricket Association for 2015/16.

Victories for Warrandyte’s Third XI (Don Smith Shield), Fifth XI (Timothy Court Shield) and Sixth XI ensured the Bloods added more silverware to their recently bulging trophy cabinet.

It was a busy finals campaign for Warrandyte across the entire club with five of the six senior teams qualifying for the finals and all of those five winning through past the first week.

The impressive Third XI made it to the big dance the hard way. Arguably deserving to finish on top of the ladder, Warrandyte had to settle for third place and an elimination final against Lilydale due to an anomaly in the draw and a last round defeat.

Warrandyte made light work of the opposition in the knockout game, easily defending a monstrous 305 on the second day. Warrandyte reached the total thanks to the well-poised batting of Tom Ellis and Cameron Day, before Stuart Howarth and Shaun Ison brought the team home strongly.

Ison would prove to be the games X-factor, taking three wickets when Warrandyte had its turn with the ball, to compliment U16 player Ben Jackson’s four wickets.

The following week, Warrandyte faced Kilsyth to book its ticket into the Grand Final in what proved to be a tighter contest. After being restricted to 151 on a slow ground, (with Day doing most of the heavy lifting with the bat) Warrandyte’s skipper Stewart Smead delivered with the ball, taking 5/10 in a romp to ensure Warrandyte would play another week. Playing as the only senior team in the third week of the finals, Warrandyte had a large crowd in attendance as it took on the competitive East field at a neutral ground. The Grand Final was an intense affair and became a one-day fixture following rain interruption on the first day.

Warrandyte had 35 overs to play with and restricted Eastfield to 117, largely due to more terrific bowling from Smead. That left Warrandyte facing a tricky run chase in a high-pressure situation, and the Bloods needed to keep their heads. Consistent wickets kept East field in the game, until Chris Jackson and Dean Gidley combined for the ninth wicket to guide Warrandyte home to an unlikely victory.

The Fifth XI also welcomed 11 premiership players to the history books, with an emphatic Grand Final victory over Templeton at the Warrandyte Cricket Ground.

To reach the final, Warrandyte was required to chase down 100 against a tough Montrose team, but completed the turnaround thanks to some dogged batting by Peter Hanson. Warrandyte put on a nervous display with the bat in the Grand Final, which may have been influenced by the size of the occasion. The home side managed 125, with Nathan Croft providing a mature captain’s innings before Warrandyte took the ball to defend the total.

Thanks to clutch bowling by Aaron Dean and Ryley Reardon, Warrandyte pegged back Templeton, despite the away side needing just 40 runs with seven wickets in hand. Warrandyte was able to celebrate a truly incredible come-from-behind win because of a complete team effort.

The Sixth XI have also done the community proud with comprehensive victories over Olinda and then Eastfield in their finals campaign. In the first matchup, Warrandyte cruised to victory following a strong batting display from Travis Jackson and Bailey Thomas, with bowlers providing ample cover to defend 269. Bill Stubbs was the one to do the damage, with strong support from Brady Poole, Claire O’Brien and Max Coutts. Heading into the Grand Final, Warrandyte faced tough competition, highlighted when Eastfield put on 171 in its innings.

Stubbs and Andrew Thomas worked hard with the ball to ensure Warrandyte would have a strong chance of reaching the Eastfield score.

However, the total would turn out to be nowhere near defendable, with Graham Rees, Bailey Thomas and Brady Poole providing strong support to club president Greg Warren, who was the star of the show.

Warren would finish not out on 90 runs, an incredible effort by the club stalwart to ensure a team compromised of a mix of veterans, junior and seniors would take home the flag.

In the other grades, despite a first round win for the First XI and 13 wickets from coach Jake Sherriff in the finals, Warrandyte’s senior side would suffer a poor batting collapse in its preliminary final against North Ringwood.

Warrandyte’s Fourth XI would also be knocked out on the penultimate weekend of the year, with another batting collapse costing the team. The week before, five wickets from John Prangley and strong batting from Hoiberg and Goddard would guide them past South Warrandyte.

First XI

Elimination Final: Warrandyte 136 (Dehmel 39) d. Warranwood 117 (Sherriff 8/41). Preliminary Final: Warrandyte 74 (Dehmel 28) def. by North Ringwood 6/83 (Sherriff 5/25)

Third XI

Elimination Final: Warrandyte

9/305 (Ellis 69, Day 57, Haworth 41) d. Lilydale 165 (B Jackson 4/41, Ison 3/24). Preliminary Final 151 (Day 86) d. Kilsyth 49 (Smead 5/10, C Jackson 3/14). Grand Final: Warrandyte 8/118 (Ellis 18) d. Eastfield 7/117 (Smead 4/15)

Fourth XI

Elimination Final: Warrandyte 176 (Hoiberg 97 not out, Goddard 41) d. South Warrandyte 153 (Prangley 5/31). Preliminary Final: Warrandyte 64 (Kline 15) lost to Wonga Park 8/167 (Weatherley 2/4)

Fifth XI

Semi Final: Warrandyte 8/102 (Hanson 32) d. Montrose 100 (Woodhead 3/25). Grand Final: Warrandyte 125 (Croft 31) d. Templeton 115 (Dean 4/15, Reardon 3/10)

Sixth XI

Semi Final: Warrandyte 4/269 (Jackson 62, B Thomas 58) d. Olinda 83 (Stubbs 3/16). Grand Final: Warrandyte 2/176 (Warren 90 not out) d. Eastfield 171 (Stubbs 4/20, A Thomas 3/22)

Community gets a jog on


WARRANDYTE Reserve was awash with cones, colour and competition yesterday as runners of all ages and abilities took part in the fifth annual Run Warrandyte event.

Record numbers were recorded as runners competed across the six events. Everyone from parents in prams, school kids, Warrandyte Bloods players and dedicated athletes like the Westerfoldians parkarun group took part. Five-kilometre runner Simon Tu, a member of the parkarun group, believes running truly is a sport for those of all abilities.

“No matter quickly or slowly you run, everyone is going at full capacity. So it’s the most democratic sport there is,” said Simon.

Most exciting was the introduction and running of the inaugural Grand Hotel Warrandyte Gift. After a series of heats involving over 30 competitors, it was Rory Ashton who won out in a photo finish, crossing the line milliseconds ahead of Sharlotte Rimelowe and Kellie Appleby.

The first three placing’s received cash prizes courtesy of the Grand Hotel, ensuring the hard work of runners was rewarded.run3

Long distance runner Stephen Rennick was the star of the show in the Ringwood Warrandyte Osteopath 15km event, leading the field with an exceptional time of 55 minutes 40 seconds, beating out all comers, including a brave runner who finished the track barefooted while drumming along to music. Not to be outdone was Wendy Mountford, who clocked a rapid time of 1 hour 7 minutes and 14 seconds in an outstanding effort in the 15km female event, just beating out Clare Oliveira who came in a minute later.
Simon Bull and Jennifer Wood took out the Harding’s Swift Caravan Services 10km honours respectively, while Simon Tu and Alicia Callahan were the winners
in the Ruby Tuesday Jewellery 5km category.

Perhaps the most hotly contested was the Quinton’s SUPA IGA 2.2 kilometre run, in which youngsters led the way, treating the race like a sprint early before pushing each other all the way to the line.run4

The U8s Crystal Brook Tourist Park Oval Dash was also a crowd favourite, with the little ones running as fast as anyone in front of excited spectators. All events were eagerly supported and watched by a crowd of friends, family and volunteers who cheered each runner over the finish line.

Community favourites were present, such as Grand Hotel manager Peter Appleby, who put the running shoes on with son Liam, to represent the pub, sponsor for the 2016 gift event. Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith was present to award medals to the winners and announce the raffle, and the Warrandyte football players also completed various circuits, despite playing a game the previous day. Participation was strong and impressive MC Steve Ballard was extremely satisfied with the day as a whole.run2

“It’s been fantastic, probably better than ever,” Steve said.

“We had really strong numbers, the weather was perfect and that really helped.

“It was nice and overcast for the distance runners, and then the sun came out for the Gift. Our sponsors have been really good, there was really good spirit and camaraderie between runners, and we saw some really good times especially in the distance runs.”

Plans are already underway to make the day even bigger in 2017, including more involvement with the local sports clubs.

“It’s a great way to kick off the junior and senior footy season and the netball season, it’s great to
see competitors from the different clubs in all the races,” Steve said.

“Next year what we’d like to do is try to set something up to get the sporting clubs to compete as clubs in the races, set them up against each other.”

Special thanks are in order for major organisers, including David Dyason who worked tirelessly along with all the volunteers, the White Owl Cafe who provided exceptional food and coffee for runners and spectators, and, of course, the Warrandyte Community Bank.

 

 

 

Grand Gift is all set


RUN Warrandyte’s 2016 event is going to even greater lengths to include and entertain the entire community, premiering the Grand Hotel Warrandyte Gift, a handicapped sprint race which joins other existing events to further bolster the day.

Offering a cash prize, the Gift will be run on the main oval as runners from longer distance events finish their races, allowing spectators to witness an exciting quick sprint event not previously offered on the day.

Sponsored by the Grand Hotel, the Gift is offering a prize of $600 dollars to be split between the three podium places, to give runners a little incentive before taking off. The day (Sunday March 6) kicks off with the 15km run at 8am sharp, followed by the 10km, 5km, and two point 2km events shortly after. The U8s have centre stage next, before heats start for the inaugural gift at 9am.

The day can’t be run without volunteers and those who are interested need only register online. This year the road events have been altered, with a section of rough added to the now famous Run by the River. The familiar 2.2km run/walk event now only contains one lap of the Second Avenue loop, but has runners doing more on the main oval. All other tracks have been changed slightly, and include the Pound Bend Tank, all starting and finishing on the main oval. All participants who register online will receive a Run Warrandyte running singlet as part of their entry fee and money raised will aid local sporting clubs – Warrandyte Junior Football Club, Warrandyte Football Club, Warrandyte Netball Club and Warrandyte Cricket Club. Visit warrandytesports.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

State call ups for our boys


WHEN Basketball Victoria is identifying players from your side for state selection camps, it’s a good indicator your program is in good shape.

In the past year, numerous players from Warrandyte Basketball have attended camps and tryouts in the hope of selection for state programs and teams.

In the 2014-2015 season, two Warrandyte affiliates represented Vic Metro; Under 16 player Casey DeWacht made the Under 16 Vic Metro Men’s side and coach Nicole Howard was head coach of the Under 14 Southern Cross Challenge Vic Metro Girls team.

This list has continued to grow in recent weeks with announcements for the 2015-2016 season. Young guns Emma Dowling and Alan Ure from the Under 14 Warrandyte Venom program have earned places in the Southern Cross Challenge (SCC) Vic Metro sides, while Nicole Howard will retain her head coach role at the SCC.

The SCC involves four days of competition and will take place in January at the State Basketball Centre, where Emma, Alan and Nicole will represent Vic Metro against Vic Country and other state sides.

Further selections include Warrandyte Venom Under 18 junior Fraser Trenfield, who will don the navy singlet for the Ivor Burge Vic Metro Men’s side, and Ryan Holloway, who joins the side in an assistant coaching capacity. Both Ryan and Fraser will travel to Queensland in February to compete in their national competition and will be able to use lead up games and tournaments to prepare. The Under 18 Vic Metro teams selections are also underway, with squads being whittled down to low numbers. Casey DeWacht (Venom Big V player) has reached the top 24 players for the 18 Men’s and will travel to NSW to compete in the East Coast Challenge in early January.

Joining him in NSW will be WBA director of coaching Nicole Howard, in an assistant coaching role for the Under 18 women’s side. The Under 18 national competition will take place in Adelaide in April, which Casey will be eligible to compete in if he earns final selection for the state side.

With a strong pathway now from Aussie Hoops all the way to Big V basketball, Warrandyte Basketball is helping to develop the skills of young players and coaches, who are able to represent Victoria Metro with pride.

To hell and back


RECOVERING from a long-term injury is a brutal physical process, something Melbourne AFL player Christian Petracca can certainly testify to. The second pick in the 2015 draft saw his dream of an AFL debut shattered after a season-ending ACL injury in pre-season training. But the 19-year-old Warrandytian insists the mental struggle was more difficult than the physical one, though he is winning the battle. Dealing with the reality of waiting another year to step onto the field, as well as the pressure of being a high draft pick, took its toll on the explosive midfielder. But according to Petracca, some tough love at home, a trip to America and learning some hard lessons along the way helped pave the way to his recovery. The Diary’s MICHAEL DI PETTA takes time out in the young gun’s home town for an update.

Michael: First of all, obviously with the ACL injury, you missed the entire year. As a young player, how do you come back from that?

Christian: Yeah, when I first did it, it was pretty frustrating, obviously I’d never had a setback like this in my life as a footballer, or a sportsperson in general. I didn’t really know how to cope or how to handle the situation, especially being touted as a high draft pick, when the pressure’s already on me. I think the biggest thing I did was to surround myself with good people. My family was supportive throughout the whole year and obviously so was everyone down at the footy club. You’ve got 44 blokes on a list and it really helps; any day if you’re feeling flat, you can talk to any of them.

MD: What was some of the best advice you got from some of the blokes at Melbourne or from the family?

CP: Make the most of it, you’re only in the gym for a year, so really try and harness the experience and get your body right. Also, they told me it’s probably the best time to do a knee, if you were to do one, right at the start of your career, so really just focus on working hard and being a better person.

MD: And the family?

CP: They’ve done everything, I get home, they’ve probably seen I’ve had a bad day and they give a lot of sup- port. My brothers haven’t changed and that’s probably the best thing, they’ve kept on telling me to suck it up. I don’t want them to change just because I’ve done a knee, or become an AFL footballer or anything, but it’s good because we haven’t changed at all. Mum and Dad have been really good the whole year, even off the field, just helping me through and it’s what I needed.

MD: What were some of the things you did, or techniques you used to keep yourself physically and emotionally motivated throughout the period?

CP: It was quite a boring year, I guess, because every day I did the exact same stuff – there was no real change, it was just basically leg strength. Every day, Monday, Wednesday and Friday would be my main days for running, gym and we did these other little exercises with that which would basically take up the whole day. And on Tuesday and Thursdays, which were my days off, I’d still be doing a bike session, or a swim to keep the cardio going. Then on top of that, you’ve got to fit in the meetings with the main group and all the game style reviews, and reviews from training. So you’re pretty busy; it’s a full time job. I’m probably more mentally fatigued then physically, just because it really has been a long year. I just can’t wait to start.

MD: When you were sitting out on the sidelines you must of learnt a lot about playing and being in the AFL, even though you weren’t out on the field.

CP: Yeah definitely, I think the biggest thing that I found was that talent only gets you so far, you could have another one of these injuries and your career might be over. It’s a really cutthroat industry and one minute you could be pick No.1 and the next minute you could be delisted. You’ve just got to work hard and earn respect, and that’s the biggest thing that I found. At the start of my career, I thought I’d rather be liked, but it’s more about working hard and earning respect from your teammates.

MD: You went to the US recently to take part in a rehabilitation program, what kind of different stuff were you doing over there?

CP: I was actually surprised, it was quite similar stuff, but Billy Knowles, the ACL specialist, made things a lot more specific with the drills we were doing. It was a lot of hard work, it was two two-hour sessions a day for five days, it would be all legs, a lot of gym, and a lot of focusing on landing, jumping and controlling. Obviously he knows a lot of statistics and he was telling me a lot of ACLs are done when you are decelerating, so not when you’re speeding up, but when you are slowing down. That’s how I did my knee, so we were focusing a lot on how to plant your feet or when you’re jumping and you get hit in the air, learning how to land properly. It was really good, it gave me a really good insight and I’ve come back from Philadelphia really confident in my knee. Mentally it was really weird: he sort of connected the wires from my mind to my leg, he made me think while I’m up in the air, this is how I’m going to land. I didn’t really know how to do that kind of thing, but now that I’ve gone there it really gave me a good insight on how to do it.

MD: So do you feel like your knee is back to 100%?

CP: I don’t think it will ever be back to 100%, I still have deficiencies in some areas, but I’ve spoken to a lot of boys and they’ve said similar things – not every ACL is the same. But at the moment it feels really good and I’m doing everything I can, and when we get to Day 1 of pre-season, I’m sure I’ll be able to do a lot, probably not the contact work, but I’ll probably build into it.

MD: Explosiveness was one of the words used to describe you coming into the draft. Do you feel you will have to modify your game in any way to still have the same impact?

CP: Not at all, I’ve always been quite an explosive player. The most frustrating thing about the injury was that I did it while I was moving. With my strength being agility, playing a lot of basketball, it really frustrated me because I’ve probably done that action so many times on the field, but I don’t think it will change my game in any way. I’ll still be the same player.

MD: Melbourne showed some really positive signs. Didn’t win too many games, but there were some really good signs from young blokes like Hogan and Brayshaw. With you coming back, how strong is the foundation for the footy club over the next few years?

CP: We’ve shown this year – well it’s been a bit inconsistent with the wins on the board – but we definitely have improved and we’ve got a really good base of young guys who have really helped us.

It’s really good going to a club every day knowing there are young guys around your age who are really there for one reason – to win premierships. It’s a really good feeling to know we definitely have the group to do that in the future.

MD: So, what’s your personal goal for the season ahead? What do you want to accomplish?

CP: I have some goals that I like to set, but for now it’s really just getting through pre-season unscathed. If I play Round 1, I do, if I don’t it’s really just focusing on playing some games this year. Pre-season this year is shorter, the NAB Cup starts in early Feb, but for me I think if I can get through Christmas I’ll be on the home straight.