By Matt Fotia
Like the seven other clubs heading into Division One this season, 2019 offered new hope to Belgrave.
And whilst it didn’t go exactly as they planned it, there might be even more hope as they head into 2020.
Here’s their 2019 review.
Position : 7th (2-14)
For : 982 (Ranked #7)
Against : 1773 (Ranked #8)
Leading Goal Kicker : Joshua Richmond (37)
Best and Fairest : Thomas Stubley
What went well : The Magpies started the season well, but came away with very little reward.
They controlled the game against eventual Preliminary Finalist Monbulk in Round One before fading late, snared a victory against a fancied Emerald side away from home and they went toe to toe with Officer and Doveton in the first six weeks. They also performed better then most on the wide open South Eastern spaces.
Those performances promised a fairly pleasing season ahead for the Magpie faithful. One in which they wouldn’t be easy to knock over and could perhaps cause a few upsets along the way.
Alas, the lack of reward seemed to take it’s toll and this dropped off as the year went.
What went wrong : The Magpies were very very leaky in defence this year.
They conceded over 100 points on nine occasions and four of those occasions saw them concede 150 plus, with Officer topping the charts with a mammoth 25.22.(172).
For a side that harboured ambitions of causing a few upsets in 2019 and eyes a spot in the Premier Division in its future, that defensive record is nowhere near the mark.
What they need : They need to fine tune their game plan. Nathan Johns is confident in his system, but openly admitted he initially struggled to adapt it from bigger grounds (his previous role was at Crib Point) to the smaller grounds.
It could also prove to be a little too complicated, with players struggling to remember a number of instructions and grabbed their second win after a ‘refresher session’.
If he can fine tune the game plan and nail down the basics of how they want to play, they’ll be able to define player roles with much more clarity and should see some stark improvement.
Grade – C
The Magpies finished up seventh, and that was about right. They would’ve wanted more then two wins, but 2019 was a transitional year under Johns. 2020 is the real measuring stick.
Position : 7th (4-12)
For : 610 (#6)
Against : 736 (#7)
Leading Goal Shooter : Naomi Hargreaves (241)
Best and Fairest : Alisha Parssis
What went well : The Magpies performed pretty consistently throughout the year, providing stiff competition for all of their opponents, grabbing a Round One win against eventual Runners Up Monbulk, as well coming close to others, with a one goal loss to Semi Finalist Warburton Millgrove and two nail biters against Elimination Finalists Pakenham Lions.
A pretty good year considering the loss of some top players at the end of a great 2018 season.
What went wrong : Like their footballing peers, Belgrave struggled with their defending a little throughout 2019.
Offensively they were around the mark, but they were 70 goals worse off defensively then the side who finished in fifth place and 300 goals worse off then Premiers Mount Evelyn.
What they need : Belgrave, like a lot of netball clubs, need to put some time and effort into getting a strong junior program.
Not only does it give the club a solid foundation, it decreases the chances of a large player exodus again, as players create a stronger bond with the club the longer they’ve been a part of it.
The temptation to top up will be a big one, but short term success is not always the answer.
Grade – C
Belgrave did really well all things considered. If they can sell the prospect of Netballers and Footballers being together (at the same venue) in the future and build a strong junior program, they’ll be back up the Netball ladder sooner rather then later.