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Head Coach's Review of 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 6:01 PM

G'day Sharks Fans,

In a spooky coincidence all 3 grades finished 5th in 2013,after all finishing 2nd in 2012.

In case you are wondering, I think  it’s a whole lot better finishing 2nd rather than 5th!  

A whole range of events occur during a year that influence the final ladder position.

I will outline the major aspects below:

  1. We won 11, lost 9 with the second highest percentage in the competition.
  2. We won 6 of our last 7, and were in front in the 4th quarter in our only loss.
  3. Swan Districts and East Perth who finished 1 game ahead of us, both played Peel (clearly the bottom team) 3 times. We played them twice.
  4. We planned for more input from our WCE and FFC listed players and the level of input was well below reasonable expectations. When planning we based our judgement on previous history with a degree of deviation. This planning impacts on recruiting: it’s no use recruiting a player if you aren’t going to play him. For example, Sam Menegola played 2 games and Jon Griffin 0 in 2013-both due to injury. We factored in more games from these two or at least from one Fremantle ruckman!
  5. Close losses were significant. 2 consecutive 3 point losses to East Perth and Claremont were critical. We also lost another 4 games by 14 points or less.

As you would deduce from our percentage we ranked highly in both points for and against: In fact, we were the 2nd highest scoring team in the competition-  1 point behind Claremont. This is a remarkable effort considering we lost Leith Teakle (retirement), Brock O’Brien (2010, 2011 leading goalkicker) and Rob Young missed 7 games.
Our defensive efforts were also meritorious- We ranked 4th, only 7 points off 3rd. We felt that in the middle third of the season we lapsed defensively. Our midfield didn’t apply enough defensive pressure and the opposition were entering their F50 too often and too easily. We also, conceded too many easy, soft goals during this period. Our last 7 games were outstanding from a team defence perspective. Our major failing this year was the inablilty to perform with the fierce pressure we are noted for, often enough.

Any analysis of 2013 must include our excellent Foxtel Cup form. To make the Grand Final and nearly win it, despite travelling twice and having only a 3 days break was exceptional. The opposition scored only 10 goals total in 3 games. Admittedly, 2 games were played in very low scoring conditions.

To think we kicked  2 goals 16 points in the game vs West Adelaide, is almost inconceivable. Upon reflection, we panicked late, and the players with best intentions and endeavours to secure victory, wanted to have a shot. A little poise and composure would have been helpful.

I have been asked about the impact of the Foxtel Cup on our WAFL season. It is difficult to be certain of any impacts. For example, it certainly didn’t tire us out as we finished the year better than we started. But, our injury levels were very high late in the year. I am sure that the experiences gained by the players were irreplaceable. So in the long term it will be positive. We also gained knowledge as a coaching group as SA football tactics are quite different to WAFL tactics.

Most of our senior players had very good years with a couple playing their best ever football at times such as Rory O’Brien, Tom Howlett and Andrew Stephen. A group of local East Fremantle products like James Bayliss, Scott Jansen and Brad Cooper had career best “games played” years.  The development of young midfielders in Scott Hancock and Aiden Tropiano was important in the second half of the year. We also, were pleased that Ryan Lester-Smith and Mitchell Boyle adapted so well to their new forward roles. Young ruckmen Fraser Mcdougall and Cam Symonds performed most creditably. Both finished in the top 10 for hit outs.

Our player leadership at East Fremantle is amongst the best in the competition. Led by Mark Mcgough, the group comprising Stephen, Hadley, Bayliss, Dodd, Young and Rory O’Brien performed their roles both on and off field superbly well.

We are extremely well served at East Fremantle by a large group of diligent and professional staff. To be an East Fremantle staff member at any level essentially means you are good at your job. Enough said.

We enter a new phase of WAFL football next year with the AFL club affiliations going into full swing. The AFL listed EF players have been outstanding in their conduct and efforts in my time at East Fremantle. We trust we have helped them in some way. However, it is 100% wrong to conclude that the current coaching group is concerned about our future due to the affiliation. In many ways, it will be a blessing in disguise.

Our Colts and Reserves had similar seasons to the League. The Reserves were decimated with injuries and the Colts unbalanced with State 18s commitments mid year. They showed enough to reinforce that the East Fremantle talent pool is rich.

Overall, it was a year of great effort with little reward.

It will take some getting over, and we will endeavor to learn from whatever mistakes we made.

Stephen Malaxos
Head Coach
East Fremantle Football Club