Sport

End of year reviews - Football

By Andrew Johnston

SEASON 2019 brought plenty of ups and downs for football teams across the Riverine Herald's readership.

We take a look at how each team went this season.

Echuca United

What loomed as a month of excitement ended in disaster for the Eagles as they suffered a straight sets finals exit in the Murray Football League.

Throughout the season, United appeared to be the biggest challenger to Nathalia’s throne and proved their worth when the two sides met in round 14, going down by a single point in arguably the best Murray League game of the year.

During pre-season, coach Guy Campbell made it clear his side were good enough to challenge and they continually proved it until the most important time of the year.

Unfortunately, United’s luck with injury came to an end during the finals series with several key players including the Priest brothers going down.

But even when they did occur, Campbell refused to make use them as an excuse.

One of the biggest positives to come out of Echuca South Recreation Reserve this season was seeing 12 under 17 footballers exposed to senior football for the first time.

United have made it clear they want to see their juniors play an important role in their senior team going forward and this exposure will only hold them in good stead moving forward.

Meanwhile Josh Mellington’s arrival can’t be understated.

From the moments he walked through the doors, the Eagles were aware of the talents he possessed and he definitely repaid the faith with 130 goals.

Securing his signature for next season will be crucial if the club wants to win their first senior premiership since 2013.

Moama

This was a hard season to get a legitimate grasp on.

There is no way of sugar coating the record of the Magpies' Murray Football League  season - two wins is undoubtedly a terrible outcome.

The Magpies got close to winning on a few occasions as well, often against high quality opposition.

But two wins is a heavy cross to carry.

But, as we have reported all year, Moama's season was never as simple as the wins and loss tally on the board.

Luke Eldridge had a directive to take a group of young players and develop them, set a game plan that will work and get some experience into the players.

All those things were achieved - the group will be a year older with 18 games under their belts, and the game plan worked when they put it together for a full 120 minutes.

The challenge for Eldridge next year is top get a bit more consistency out of his players.

Easier said than done, but there have definitely been a lot of good signs in 2019.

Leitchville-Gunbower

Success is hard to maintain, and the Bombers showed it.

After claiming back-to-back Heathcote District Football League flags, LG saw a mass exodus at the end of the season, as a number of big name players including goal kicking star Matt Perri moved on.

It left the Bombers with a majority of homer grown talent, and a returning Tyler Jones, looking to try and keep the side's premiership defence alive.

It would not work out that way.

The gulf in talent, as well as a mid-season coaching change, meant there were simply to many issues to fix in one season, and a late season loss to White Hills saw the Bombers fall out of the five altogether.

In the end the Bombers just had too much to cover, and while we expect a pre-season together to improve the side for 2020, the 2019 season will be seen as a disappointment.

Lockington-Bamawm United

After finishing second on the Heathcote District League ladder, LBU entered the finals series with their hopes high but they left with their tails between their legs.

Two straight losses to Colbinabbin and Mount Pleasant saw the Cats season come to an end, much earlier than anyone had predicted.

Coach Kahl Oliver said he was left frustrated with his side’s performances in the finals as they let a great opportunity at success slip.

During the course of the season, LBU’s biggest strength came in the form of their dynamic forward line, with three players kicking over 40 goals.

Patrick Gardiner finished on top of the club’s goal kicking charts with 45.

The big focus for the Cats moving forward will be learning from their lessons of this season to ensure they don’t fall outside of the top five next season.

Mathoura

A season with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ended happily for the Timbercutters.

Despite a first week finals exit in the Picola and District Football League, Mathoura is on the right path after improving their record from three wins in 2018 to six in 2019.

But as coach Darcy Robinson has admitted, their biggest challenge is now trying to find consistency in their game with such a young group.

 At various points of the season, Mathoura showed their best was good enough to compete with the best teams in the competition.

Unfortunately, they would often follow it up with a well below par performance against the so called easy beats of the Picola and District League.

With several young guys in their side, Amos Farrell often led the way for the Timbercutters with regular strong performances being named in the best on 10 occasions.

Robinson – who has been reappointed for next season – has already highlighted the need  to recruit more players and if he get what he wants a move up the ladder next season is not out of the question.