The first ever AFL Outer East season is creeping ever closer and as anticipation builds we’ll be taking a closer look at each and every club in our newly formed home.
It’s a long term focus down at the Yarra Junction Football Netball Club as the Eagles set out to defend their title after their drought breaking 2018 Division Two Football premiership.
The Eagles stormed to their first premiership in 28 years last season, winning three straight finals to come from third on the ladder to win the Grand Final by 96 points. Senior coach John Holmes says that whilst the boys enjoyed their success, they are well and truly focused on the task at hand in 2019.
“They enjoyed it, as you should and obviously they’ll remember that for the rest of their lives, but we got back on the track in late November and tried to switch the focus from 2018 to 2019 and the job ahead of us,”
“Once you’ve won one the hunger sets in and grows so I don’t think we will have to worry about a premiership hangover. We know that the other sides in the competition have recruited heavily as well so we’ll have our work cut out for us if we want to go back to back.”
Holmes and the Eagles recruiting staff have come away from their off-season very content with themselves with former club captain Ewan Wadsworth returning from Croydon in the Eastern Football League along with Josh Hamnen from Mooroolbark and Eastern Football League Division One premiership swing man David Johnson from the Norwood Football Club.
Holmes himself will also be an ongoing proposition with the playing coach to “see how the team is travelling and how my body is holding up.” However he is happy with the depth of his squad in 2019.
“We’re in a good position at the moment – we are going to have some good players playing in the reserves the year and there will be plenty of selection headaches – but it means we’ve got more depth.”
The Eagles contemplated going up to join Division One this season, which would’ve seen them compete against Warburton Millgrove, Belgrave, Emerald, Monbulk, Mount Evelyn, Doveton, Officer/ROC and Pakenham, but decided against it to ensure the long term sustainability of the whole club.
The Eagles netball department were top heavy in 2018, with A and B grade finishing fourth on the table before being eliminated in the Elimination final. However their C and D Grade finished eighth and seventh respectively. And whilst the 17 and Under side did play off in an elimination final – they only managed to win two games for the season.
Accompany that with the fact the club has only recently shrugged off some darker days, it was decided that the Eagles should look to build again in Division Two, where they can be more confident of building this happy and positive culture both on and off field.
“If you go up too early and you are not ready it can be a hard place to build a club from, especially if you’re going poorly on field.”
The Eagles will kick off their Division Two premiership defence with an away trip to Powelltown.