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    Jeremy Kealy in action for Edenhope-Apsley last year.

2020 HDFNL COUNTDOWN: Edenhope-Apsley have a premiership goal


When Horsham District football finally kicks off in June, Edenhope-Apsley will give itself the challenge of forcing its way into the grand final.

The Saints have made back-to-back preliminary finals and regardless of a major delay to the season, the club’s only way to show improvement on last year is to go one step further.

New coach Guy Smith, still processing what a wait until May 31 will mean for his squad, said the team plan and structure were likely to remain unchanged.

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“Our final preparation leading up to the start and how we do that, like everyone else, will be the biggest concern. But we know we’re thereabouts and I think there’s a lot of guys who have been extremely disappointed finishing in preliminary finals two years in a row,” he said.

“We’ve obviously taken measures to try to finish in the big dance at the end of the year – and of course, as every coach would say, we want to be as competitive as we can. Playing off in a grand final is the ultimate goal after all.”

Smith, with a swag of credentials and results from a variety of previous coaching roles, added that coaches would be under considerable pressure to get the best from their teams and to think ‘on their feet’.

“It’s going to be an 11-game home-and-away sprint and you can’t afford to drop easy games in an 11-game season,” he said.

“And when we play each team, it will be the only chance we get to play them during the minor season. It’s certainly my biggest challenge as a coach.

“In a perfect world we would have loved to continue training, even if only the games were delayed, but now that’s knocked on a head we have to go into plan B to keep players motivated – hard to do when not knowing what the future brings.”

While understandably frustrated with the circumstances, Smith said as a coach he was in some ways looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s a test of how I can use my coaching experience to overcome this situation. I’ve experienced many different things in footy and this is just another thing to confront and I’m looking forward seeing how we can do it,” he said.

“You can’t do anything about what’s happening. You just have to adapt and roll with it. Everyone else is in the same boat.”

Smith said regardless of circumstances, Edenhope-Apsley was chasing an elusive Horsham District premiership.

“We’ve recruited really well. We’ve identified a few weaknesses in the side and targeted those areas and it’s been good so far,” he said

“The focus is to have a super strong midfield and to have quality key position as well. The idea to is have the best possible midfield and have as many guys rotate through there as possible.”

Smith said it was impossible to replace departing big man Jak Ryan but he had confidence in young Charlie Campbell acquitting himself well as he started his rucking apprenticeship.

The club has also lost former coach Chris Oliver and Carl Slape and has missed out on Kyabram premiership player Aaron Hayes. But Horsham premiership duo Beau and Dawson Cross are moving west, Beau as an assistant alongside Jeremy Kealy and Matt Butler, Darcy Harrison is joining from Donald and Dylan Vanzini is coming home.

“We are in negotiations with two other guys as well,” Smith said.

“We’ve been training the whole team as midfielders. We’re not overly tall, so we need try to use an area where we can be strong that might keep the opposition guessing.”

Edenhope-Apsley has put together a training program for players that fits within guidelines.



Seniors: Guy Smith

Reserves: Luke Riley and Hugh Caldow

Under-17s: Jarrod Farrah

Under-14s: Matt Butler

The entire March 25, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 25, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!