BURNSIDE Heights wants to be taken seriously as a Strathmore Community Bank Division 2 finals contender.
Coach Aidan Stott has made it clear that a top four finish is the pass mark his side is aiming to reach – a feat the EDFL’s youngest senior club has never achieved in its previous four attempts.
It may seem like a somewhat lofty expectation for a club with only five senior wins to its name in its entire history.
But with more than a dozen new recruits and the return of an Under 19.5 side that will serve as a feeder to the seniors, Stott is adamant that the Bears need to become a genuinely finals-worthy Division 2 outfit.
“Personally, I don’t believe in honourable losses,” Stott told essendondfl.com.au.
“Unfortunately, we got tagged with that a bit last year.
“We won't be satisfied with just being competitive in games anymore and expect to be playing finals like all seven other clubs.”
After going winless in 2016, the Bears were far more competitive in Stott’s first year in charge, though still only sung the song twice.
That won’t cut it this year.
“We believe we are capable of matching it with any team in the competition and we showed that for large periods last season,” Stott said.
“This year we will head into every game believing we can win. We haven’t got a number of wins in mind, but our pass mark will be making the top four for the first time in the club’s short history.”
It is a very long list of ins that Stott now has at his disposal and the only major loss is ruckman Tom Sturgess.
That means power forward Josh Covelli is back after snagging 84 goals in 2017, and this time around he has a much larger support cast.
“We believe we've brought in the right personnel to compliment what we already had,” Stott said.
“We had some very talented players last season but not enough overall depth.”
Couple that with the Bears’ heavy emphasis on improved fitness over the summer, and the end product is hopefully going to be a sharp improvement in the wins column.
“We identified fitness as being our biggest issue in 2017,” Stott explained.
“We realistically should have won five or six more games last year but fell away at key moments.
“Four of our losses came after we were leading midway through the last quarter, hence why fitness has been the focus this pre-season.
“The bar had to be raised (so) this should hold us in good stead and we expect to be running games out strongly this season.”
Key Ins: Adam Sullivan (St Albans, midfielder), Ahmed Farah (North Sunshine, defender), Brandon Yankovski (Essendon Doutta Stars, midfielder), Daniel Cooper (Melton South, forward), Daniel Royal (Diggers Rest, defender), Eyob Gebreselassie (North Sunshine, defender), Habib Hosni (West Coburg, forward), Jordan Hughes (Werribee Districts, ruckman), Mark Tzinis (Keilor, forward), Michael Wever (Border Walwa, ruckman), Nick Mordar (Basketball, ruck/forward), Socratees Kalas (Taylors Lakes, defender), Stuart Allaway (Albert Park, midfielder), Theo Sapountzis (Werribee Centrals, forward) & Zakaria Farah (North Sunshine, ruck/forward)
Key Outs: Tom Sturgess (Wy Yung)
First Month: Keilor Park (away), East Sunbury (home), Hadfield (home) & Moonee Valley (away)