By Matt Fotia
With plenty of youth and a trio of ex AFL stars the Brookers were expected to push for promotion in 2019. They achieved it, but not via the traditional route.
So before they think about Division One, take a look at their year in Division Two.
It’s their 2019 review.
Position : 4th (9-7) & Elimination Final
For : 1491 (Ranked #5)
Against : 1103 (Ranked #3)
Leading Goal Kicker : Myles Wareham (26)
Best and Fairest : Michael Firrito
What went well : One thing that Gembrook Cockatoo have in spades is depth. Not every club boasts the consistency across the grades that the Brookers do, and this once again came to the fore in 2019.
The Senior side stormed home to finish in fourth place on the ladder, with a combination of AFL experience and talented youth. And if not for an incredible second half performance from Powelltown they could well have gone a lot further into September.
The Reserves found themselves in a Preliminary Final, and were denied a place in the Grand Final by small margins on two occasions, going down to eventual premier Yarra Junction in the Second Semi Final by just one point before a heart breaking 19 point loss to Seville a week later.
Meanwhile their Under 18 side, who were following on from their 2018 premiership, competed in the top division and went about their business pretty handily, claiming fourth spot on the table with 11 victories, before dropping out at the Semi Final stage.
A handy 2019.
What went wrong : From a Senior stand point the Brookers inability to knock off one of the top three sides throughout the season will have disappointed the coaching staff. They did defeat Powelltown on two occasions and Yarra Glen in convincing fashion to finish the season, but the top three seemed to be a bridge too far.
They went down to Kinglake by 27 and 19, Yarra Junction by 45 and 12 and they were consistent against Premiers Seville, going down by 48 points on both occasions they faced the Blues.
Whilst they still made the finals, and eventually went down to an in-form Powelltown, this lack of big scalp will have annoyed Brad Coller and Co, as wins against powerful sides can kick young sides into action.
They’ll just have to get it done in 2020.
What they need : With plenty of star power (Lockyer, McIntosh and Firrito) and an abundance of junior talent coming through the senior grades (along with a few more crossing over from the AFL South East Juniors for 2020) the Brookers have both ends of the spectrum covered.
They need to fill in the gaps if they’re to be around the mark in Division One this season. They’ve started well in this regard, snapping up Belgrave trio in Jake Delphine, Ricky Delphine and Division One Team of the Year back pocket Aaron Johns.
A few more like that and they won’t be too far off the mark.
Grade – B+
There was plenty of chat during pre-season about the Brookers mounting a premiership charge. They missed out on that by a few weeks, but did get what they desired – promotion.
Position : 8th (0-14)
For : 299 (#8)
Against : 986 (#8)
Leading Goal Shooter : Leah Gill (108)
Best and Fairest : Brooke Munnerley
What went well : It was quite clearly a tough year for Gembrook Cockatoo on the netball court, and they knew it would be pretty early on, probably before the season even started.
But to every single players credit they turned up each week and put in performances that would only have enhanced their reputations, not only as netballers, but as people. No one likes losing, especially when it happens week in week out.
What would have been pleasing is the fact that outside of the last three fixtures of the season – against Yea, Seville and Yarra Glen – the Brookers seemed to be making strides each week.
A promising sign for next season.
What went wrong : In saying that, those last three games were pretty big thrashings. It saw them manage just 40 goals in total, whilst their opponents took full toll, netting 242 collectively.
They were playing against three of the top four sides, but ending the season on an upward note would’ve been nice, something to carry into 2020. Alas it wasn’t to be.
What they need : They need to embrace the new era. A new coach. New courts. New rooms. New division. A new Brookers?
Jump at this opportunity like the fresh start it is. New faces and new energy could lead to new results.
Grade – C
Gembrook Cockatoo knew where they sat pretty early on. It would’ve been nice to get a win, but overall they met expectations and are in a better spot for 2020 then even they may have expected.
Full credit to all involved.