End of Year Report - Football Manager David Depane

Sunday, January 13, 2019 - 9:15 AM

ANOTHER 12 months down the track and it is fair to say we are all disappointed with the way the 2018 season finished. In a season that promised so much for us, we unfortunately picked the wrong day to display our worst performance of the season.

For the most part our league side tracked along nicely all season winning 13 of 18 qualifying games. It was a strange qualifying season for us on reflection, as we rolled along to win enough games to qualify for the finals but did not reach any great heights along the way. It seemed that when we hit the qualifying final that we knew it was time to take it up a notch and that we did, convincingly defeating West Perth. 

This result gave us great confidence going into the second semi-Final against Subiaco. Whilst we did not beat Subiaco on the day we left the match feeling that we had a lot of positives come out of it and felt we were still in good shape. Unfortunately, we hit the wall in the preliminary final. Once again we faced West Perth, but we just did not perform when it counted particularly in the first half. Our second half performance was much improved, but we had left too much work to do too late and couldn’t find enough to get us over the line.

Paul Litherland and his coaching and support group once again did a fantastic job with our reserves. For the most part we fielded a very young reserves side throughout the season and this reflected in our results. Whilst it was disappointing to miss the finals in the last game of the season, it was most pleasing to see the players develop both their team and individual games. The playing group continually performed and maintained the pressure on our league players for spots. I feel it is important for all to understand that our reserves is a teaching ground for our young players to develop their game and allow them to take it to the next level to challenge for league positions.

Well done to Mark Foster, his assistant coaches and all the support team of the colts program. Working with a very young group it took a while for the colts boys to find their best. After a slow first half to the season, the boys finished very strongly and did a fantastic job to qualify for the finals. Their finals campaign was short and sweet, but the pleasing thing was the boys gave their all on the day and you cannot ask for any more than that. I would also like to thank Mark Foster for his devotion and dedication to the colts coaching role over the last three seasons and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.

I must compliment Bruce Willis and our leadership group for their hard work over the season. It was a change at the top this year with Dylan Main taking over as captain and Mason Shaw as vice-captain, along with a couple of old hands providing the leadership to the group. Our continued effort on the leadership will continue to provide success both on field and off. With a young group it will be exciting to see our new leaders lead the club over the coming years.

I would like to congratulate all award winners presented at the recent WJ Hughes Awards night. The counts for all three grades were very exciting and it was not until the final votes were counted that we found our eventual winners. Marlion Pickett capped off a stellar season full of highlights and proved a very popular winner of the WJ Hughes Medal. Haiden Schloithe followed up his fantastic 2017 season, finishing very strongly to be runner-up to Marlion. Well done to Nick Suban for his third place after a very consistent season. 

Congratulations to Trent Reed on The McGuiness Medal as reserves fairest and nest in his first season with the club, once again he was closely followed by some great young talent in Andre Coutinho and Blair Della Franca. Enrique Aiken-Featherstone was a worthy winner in the colts, with Tom Blechynden coming off a consistent season finishing runner-up and Matt Ward in third place. I look forward to these boys progressing to the seniors next year.

Well done also to our two state representatives – Brock Higgins and Blaine Johnson. A great effort by both players in their first state games for WA. Both players were significant contributors on the day in which WA were far too good for South Australia at Adelaide Oval.

Congratulations to Cory Dell’olio and Shaun Bewick respectively on playing their 100th games for the club. Whilst on the milestones I must also congratulate Ryan Cook on 150 games and Life Membership of the club. Ryan has been a terrific player for the club over many years, and finally Ashton Hams on 200 games for the club. Ashton is the heart and soul of the club and to see him play 200 games for his beloved Bulldogs was one of the highlights of the season for me personally. Well done to all the boys, milestone games are difficult to achieve and take a lot of hard work and effort to reach at any level.

It is with sadness that we farewell three of great club characters after 2018. Shane Hockey has been a fantastic player for the club since joining us in 2016 with him winning the WJ Hughes Medal in his first season. Over the last two seasons he has continued to be that down and dirty player in the engine room for us feeding the ball out in the midfield. Ryan Cook leaves us after reaching the 150-game milestone this season. Ryan has been a fantastic player on the field being a dual WJ Hughes Medallist, state representative (six times) and the clubs longest serving captain, a testament to his popularity amongst the players and his leadership skills. Cory Dell'Olio had a long journey to 100 games with the club, but it was great that he reached the mark before retiring as a premiership player and leading goalkicker.

Finally, our little legend Ashton Hams. Ash typifies what the club is all about, he has been a wonderful player over many years - 200 games, dual premiership player, WJ Hughes Medallist, dual Simpson Medallist, state representative (three times), pesky teammate. There is no doubt that you all hold the club very close to your hearts and have been fantastic representatives of the club over many years. I wish you all the very best of luck in your retirements as you embark on the next phase of your life, but I would also like to remind you that you will always be part of the South Fremantle family and are welcome back at any time.

A massive thank you the wonderful group of support staff who we are so lucky to have at our club. It is impossible for me to name them all in this report and my apologies if I do miss someone: 

Strength and Conditioning: Ryan Gaias, Petar Djanis, Ruby Arnold and Elena Benolli
Medical Team: Michael Swan (physiotherapist), Dr. Anthony Henderson (club doctor), Jasmin McLernon (head trainer) and her fantastic group of trainers.
Property Team: Ross Addison (manager), Peter Taylor-Thorpe, David Pannell, Phil Oldacres, Jim Maskos and Lorne McGuiness
Team Managers: Tony Mollica and Peter Matier
Stats Team: Alan Powell and Anna Kristancic
Timekeepers: George Cole and Jennifer Nikolich
Past Players & Officials: Ray Van Burgel and his merry men

There is no doubt all these wonderful people make it all happen behind the scenes and we should never under-estimate the time and effort they devote to our club.

Finally to the coaching teams, thanks for your support and assistance throughout the season. We have formed and developed a fantastic coaching group over the last few years. Your commitment and passion to drive the on-field success that we are all looking for is unquestionable and I am sure that the path we have taken so far in the journey will lead us to sustained success in the future.

League: Todd Curley (senior coach); Tony Walters, Arthur Maskos, Brett King, Kris Miller (assistant coaches); Shaun Tinsley, Adam Crannage (runners); Geoff Lewis (selection chairman); Matt Chave. Dylan Briotti (stats)
Reserves: Paul Litherland (coach); Mike Hays, Geoff Barry, Glenn McCallum (assistant coaches); Steve Jones (board, rotations); Alex Robinson, Les Olivieri (runners); Matt Barry (stats)

A big thanks to Tom Bottrell, Peter Christie and Gavin Jahn for their support and guidance throughout the year with all things football. I must also thank the board for their assistance. Thank you to the people who work closely with me during the day, Jess, Brooke, Drew and Russell. You are all great to work with in a day to day environment and it makes my job much more pleasurable and easy. Also a big thanks to Steve who is always around when needed and ensures the ground and facilities are in tip top condition. I must not forget Ivan, Nelson and Darren and their bar staff for their continued support and assistance during the year, along with the ladies who are always there when needed. 

As always a big well done to Jason Pedulla in his role as talent manager. We are very lucky to have the most organised and professional talent manager in the WAFL. This clearly shows when you look at our talent program in comparison to the other clubs.

I am under firm belief that we have taken some big strides over the last few seasons, and the time is now to take that next step. I am extremely confident that we have a quality group of young men, along with some recruiting as needed that we are still able to challenge at the top end of the table in 2019.
As I finish every season, I must leave my final thank you to my wife Tania. She is always on hand to support me in this game we all love, no matter when it is.