A rocky start for season 2017 which saw the team lose the first 5 games in a row. With low section 95 numbers being approved, this meant most games we had no rotations on the bench which tested the boys physically and mentally. The first win came at our home ground - Steel Blue Oval, a massive 69-point smashing against Coolbellup. To the groups credit they never lost faith or belief in the program, in their ability, in the team and in every game they came to play and they played to win. With lots of inexperience in the 2017 squad and a few familiar faces from previous seasons, the second half of the season saw the black ducks slowly climb the ladder. We had the inclusion of new section 95 players being approved and graduates coming back to finish off the season with the team they had worked so hard for in the pre-season. As the Swannies boys slowly climbed the ladder week after week, from 9th place to 5th place, this sent the team into another year of finals football.
An unbelievable performance in the first elimination final, coming from 3 goals behind in the final quarter to beat Kalamunda with only 18 players and no bench, was one of the proudest moments in my coaching career. The following week almost topped it. Running out with only 16 players for the entire game against Coolbellup, being in the game all day but unfortunately going down by 14 points in what will go down as one of the greatest team performances of Swan Districts Amateur Football Team history.
I couldnt be prouder of the group of men I was fortunate enough to coach and mentor throughout season 2017. I will be forever grateful for all that they have taught me, inspired me and allowed me to share my knowledge and experience to hopefully positively impact each and everyone of their lives.
I would like to make a special mention to all the support staff this year: Ebony, Wayne, Kris & Charlie. Without the help from them inside and outside of Wooroloo & Wandoo, this program wouldnt be anywhere near as successful, professional, and smoothly run as it is. A big thanks to Tommo for providing the boys with a different voice and training experience, the boys absolutely loved it and learnt so much. To Steve, Rob and Oggy for all their support and help of the program behind scenes, its very much appreciated.
To the boys in the program that were unable to get their S95s, thank you for continuing to stick it out and continuing to train. Without you we wouldnt have had the numbers down at training each week. You are only as good as your squad and due to all your hard work at training pushing yourselves and those around you, thats why we were so successful.
To the boys who were lucky enough to pull on the black and white jumper this year, thank you for making my coaching experience one that I wont forget. I am very proud of the blokes who were granted parole, with some coming back and others starting a fresh new life. A lot of different factors throughout the year made it tough and challenging at times but overall a very rewarding and enjoyable year.
Besides a few bumps and hurdles in the road the squad had to overcome, the team culture and spirit never dropped and each member of the team showed the importance of the V Swans New Horizons Program which was much more than a game of football. Each member of the program who had the honour of wearing the black and white jumper wore it with great respect and pride in front of friends and family each weekend. To finish the year in the top 5 was a fantastic accomplishment after the many barriers we had to overcome as a group. I am one very proud coach and very grateful I get the opportunity to coach and mentor a great group of men each week.