By Matt Fotia
2019 is just the beginning.
That’s what Pakenham Football Club coach Ash Green is preaching to the members of the Pakenham Football Club and the AFL Outer East communities as his Lions outfit sit clear in second spot on the Division One Ladder.
Green says that developing the Lions young list and making sure it sticks together are two of his big focuses as he and the club eye a sustainable period of success.
“One of my big focuses has been the development of our playing list, we’ve got some really exciting kids playing seniors, a couple in the twos and a couple in the under 18’s,”
“Obviously I’m focusing on getting the best out of the team but also developing what we’ve got,”
“We’re super excited by the young team that we’ve got and it’s more important that we keep this list together and get some success along the way.”
Success could be coming earlier than expected. The Lions have been incredibly consistent throughout 2019 with their hard running and high possession style able to keep their opponents scoring down as they rack up the wins.
Green praised the way that his side have spread the workload this season with no individual player having a massive season to drag them up the table.
“We haven’t had any big standouts with guys kicking goals or being best on ground every game, everyone’s sort of come in and out of games, so we’ve been pretty consistent with our performances, it’s been a real even spread.”
That spreading of the workload has been especially evident in the forward half. The Lions have 10 players who have slotted more than five majors this season but none have kicked over 15. Matthew Ryan leads the way with 13.
Whilst Green would appreciate having a powerful full forward he understands they don’t often come under the age of 23.
“Obviously with a young side one thing you haven’t got is strong mature bodies,”
“I think every team would love to have a gun full forward, but we’re fortunate that we can rotate our forward line and get six to ten goal kickers in a game rather than relying on one player to kick five or six a game.”
Pakenham may not have had anyone kick a massive haul this season, but they did have one kicked against them when Shane Williams kicked 10 as Monbulk gave Pakenham their first defeat for the season.
Green laments the Lions poor ball use on that occasion, but has been able to assess that 51 point defeat to help his side moving forward.
“They (Monbulk) punished us every time we turned the ball over, they’re well drilled in how they set up structurally and are very even across the board,”
“We didn’t know a lot about Monbulk then, so when you actually reassess you can see what you need to do as a team going forward,”
“We’ve got some options up our sleeves with a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C and they’ll no doubt have the same.”
Regardless of new plans Green is well aware that the Lions will have to be at their best to knock off the undefeated Hawks.
“I’d like to think on our home deck we will be able to utilise it, but they aren’t going to make it easy for us,”
“We’ll have to play at our best this weekend to knock them off.”