By Matt Fotia
At the start of the year it was all about rebuilding the club after a lowly 2018. It was about taking their opportunities in a more even division.
Fast forward six months and Doveton have gone from zero to hero, having taken all before them in the Division One Finals Series to grab a historic premiership.
It could’ve been similar on the netball court, if not for a late season tailspin. Nonetheless the Doves are off to the promised land (Premier Division) in 2020.
Here’s their 2019 Review.
Position : 3rd (10-6) & Premiers
For : 1239 (Ranked #5)
Against : 1032 (Ranked #3)
Leading Goal Kicker : Mitchell Pierce (30)
Best and Fairest : Matthew Stapleton
What went well : Whilst it would be obvious to go through the Doves Finals Series as the thing that quite clearly went well for them, I think a light needs to be shone on the culture that Daniel Charles, Aaron Henwood, Matthew Stapleton and Martin Stillman have built down at A.J.Robinson Reserve.
It would be easy to look at the number of recruits the Doves pulled in and suggest that they ‘bought’ the 2019 premiership, but those that had the privilege to watch the Doves throughout the entire year, not just the Grand Final, will be able to articulate how much love the boys in Black and Green have for each other.
Whilst their fans might get a bit of a raw deal for how emotional they get watching along, their passion is something to be admired, and also stems from the culture that has been re-born throughout 2019. Watching Doveton is not merely something to do on a Saturday afternoon for these folk, it is a genuine past time, something that can define the week ahead for the faithful.
Tears flowed for the Doves in 2019, not only on Grand Final Day, but all the way back on Good Friday and throughout the season as they ticked off a number of personal milestones.
So whilst their final month of football was something that went extremely well, their culture was something that went even better.
What went wrong : Okay, back to earth.
In the early part of the season Doveton seemed to struggle against sides who were able to move the ball with speed, as their adventurous defenders got caught out of position. Pakenham did it. Monbulk did it and Mount Evelyn were able to do it on their home track.
The Doves were so very good all year around the coalface with their midfield full of big bodied stars. But once opponents got the ball on the outside they seemed to be able to get a hold of their tussles against the Doves.
This evidently improved throughout the season but its something to be wary of in 2020. More and more teams will move the ball at breakneck speed in the Premier Division, and their ability to pull apart defences will also increase.
What they need : To embed their new recruits in ASAP and allow room for their next crop to blossom.
Doveton’s recruiting has not been subtle. They are looking to take the Premier Division by the horns and their approach is something to be admired.
But one challenge that comes with the sudden influx of new players is the assimilation of them into not only your system, but your culture – of which Doveton have a distinct one.
If they can get this done seamlessly and also ensure that the youth that promised so much in 2019 are not moved onto the back burner, the Doves will be set up not only for 2020 but for beyond.
Grade – A+
They won the flag after not winning a game in 2018. Not only that they created a deadset buzz around the place. Watch out 2020, Doveton is coming for you.
Position : 6th (6-10)
For : 521 (#8)
Against : 666 (#5)
Leading Goal Shooter : Emily Pupuke (228)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : Defensively the Doves were strong in 2019, conceding the fifth least goals across the Division, despite missing the finals and a poor run home.
They let in 50 goals or more on just five occasions, against ROC (twice), Mount Evelyn and Warburton Millgrove (twice) and it was their defensive output that saw them rise up the table in the middle of the season, and also saw them stay in the finals hunt up until the competitions penultimate weekend.
What went wrong : Their loss to Emerald in Round 12 seemed to set the Doves into a tailspin. They’d gone down the week before to eventual premier Mount Evelyn, but following their unexpected loss to cellar dwellers Emerald they went on an unrivalled poor run to end their 2019 campaign.
They went from a 6-6 record and entrenched in the top five to out of the running by Round 15. Ouch.
What they need : Like the Pakenham Lions, their fellow promoted club, Doveton need to find some more firepower.
They scored just 521 goals in 2019, the lowest in Division One. If it wasn’t enough in that Division, what’s it going to be in the Premier Division?
They need to find a star goal shooter, or a new way of moving the ball to help move that goal scored total in the right direction.
Grade – C-
Perhaps the Doves finished around about their mark, but it would’ve disappointed considering how well placed they were midway through the year.