By Hayley Wildes
Noble Park is heading into season 2019 with a thirst to grow, both as a unit and individually.
With youth highlighting the Bulls list, there is genuine excitement about what the club is building and the direction they are headed. A strong preseason has seen the team gel as one.
“It’s just about our ball movement and our ability to gel as a team,” Noble Park coach Mick Fogarty said of the team’s preseason focus.
“We had such a young team last year and the guys are really working hard together, and we’ve got a really good chemistry amongst those young guys.
“All in all, we’re pretty excited and happy with how our preseason is progressing at the moment.”
Noble Park has worked hard to recruit players that want to be a part of the Bulls’ journey and Fogarty highlighted players from varying levels that will help push standards and improvement from within.
“It’s a combination of players that have played at VFL level, local level and also played at TAC Cup level,” he said.
“The guys that we’ve been able to get from VFL level have really integrated well into our footy club.
“We’ve got a pretty exciting list of guys that we’ve been able to get.”
Names such as Jake Frawley, Nathan Oakes, Mitch Cotter, Joel Cusack, Ben Campbell, Zac Roscoe and Bryce Dinger have signed on with the Bulls and all have experience playing football at a high level.
Fogarty spoke about the importance of getting the most out of the list’s youthful exuberance and creating a strong culture.
“Our average age would be around 22 years of age – we’ve got a few older guys, but other than that, the rest are under 25,” he said.
“We’ve got a really strong group around the 18 to 22-year-old mark, so we’ve just got to make sure that these guys are creating their own culture and their own history.
“They’ve grown up together to a certain extent in regard to playing junior footy and under 19s together so it’s quite exciting.”
Division 1 of the Eastern Football League is no joke. The quality within the competition is extremely high and Fogarty is realistic about the expectations he is placing on his team in 2019.
“We understand that the top five last year are all pretty impressive teams, then you’ve got Norwood and Balwyn who also missed out on finals, so there’s some real competition,” he said.
“We were happy with eight wins last season – a lot of people said after the exodus the year before that we’d be relegated, but internally we knew that wouldn’t be the case because of the talent we have coming through and those guys are only going to improve again this year.
“We’d like to hope we can win more games than last year and if you win more than eight, you’re thereabouts with the top five, but it’s only a 10-team competition this year, so I think it’s going to be very interesting and even in battling for those last couple of spots in the five.”
With such youth in the squad, Fogarty wants his team to use their leg speed and hopes to present an exciting brand of football for Bulls fans to revel in.
“The basic thing for us is just having an exciting game plan where we move the footy quickly,” he said.
“Most teams these days push and you’ve just got to find your way through that and find a plan that’s going to suit the personnel you’ve got.
“We’ll continually work on that and the fans will be pretty excited I hope.”