NATHAN Grima is rather reflective about his first 12 months as the senior coach of a prominent Strathmore Community Bank Premier Division club.
And to some extent, he’s bemused by some of the outside perceptions of how Strathmore performed in 2017.
“I heard a couple of comments when we got bombed out in that final against Maribyrnong Park that we under-achieved,” he recalls.
“I don’t know how people can say we under-achieved because we played 44 guys, six of them were under-age players, 35 of them were previous Strathmore juniors (and) we got to a final.
“We didn’t play at the level we needed to that day, but some of those guys played in their first final.”
Grima had a very accomplished list at his disposal but started 2017 at 0-3 before bouncing back to win the next five.
The Mores held on for fourth but were outplayed by Maribyrnong Park in a knock-out final at Windy Hill.
The club made finals for the first time since winning it all in 2014 with a mix of big names, experienced EDFL players, lesser-known one-point Strathmore juniors and kids not yet in their twenties.
They had to play numerous lesser-known types because of injury and unavailability.
If you quickly scroll down and have a look at their key outs for 2018, then you’ll see that they’re going to have to rely even more on their youth to have another crack at September this time around.
Despite losing nearly a dozen senior regulars, Grima remains bullish his fresh new charges can maintain a top four spot.
“My ambition is to build a team to win a premiership this year,” Grima said.
“I definitely didn’t coach well enough and I didn’t prepare the list well enough (last year), but I think we have a good list this year.
“I’ve made a real effort this year to try and get all our young guys on the track and get the guys much fitter.
“We’ve had a big turnover of players, but I think the guys understand the way that we want to play.”
Former Essendon skipper Nick O’Brien headlines a solid list of ins, while Ben Bese will look to have an impact after getting over a shoulder complaint that will likely keep him out of the Good Friday side heading to Keilor.
But another former Bomber, Grima himself, hasn’t ruled out an on-field comeback after a major setback with his knee last summer.
“If I can help the team and if I got cleared to play - which I’m not yet – and it was going to help the team aspire to win a premiership, then I’d look at playing some games,” Grima revealed.
“I want to make sure I can make a bigger contribution than I could just as a coach.
“It’s in my nature to prepare like I’m going to play no matter what (and) I’ve done every session with the boys since day one of pre-season.
“It doesn’t mean I’m going to play, but I’ll give myself a chance to if I think it’ll help the team and it won’t upset team harmony.”
Key Ins: Nick O’Brien (midfielder, Essendon), Blake Chant (defender, Koondrook Barham), Daniel O’Leary (midfielder, Altona), Nick Ingleton (utility, UHS-VU), Andrew Vavra (ruckman, Westmeadows), Logan Morey (Yarrawonga) & Tyson Mitchem (Noble Park)
Key Outs: Michael Firrito (Gembrook Cockatoo), Todd Grima (retired), Tom Gleeson (East Keilor), Alistair Rae (Wooden-Hesket), Dean Bramley (Wooden-Hesket), Glenn Campbell (Ocean Grove), John Barnard (Rupertswood), Karl Staudt (Ocean Grove), Marcus Stapleton, Matthew Knight (East Keilor), Matt Little & Sean Tighe (Altona)
First Month: Keilor (away), Greenvale (home), Pascoe Vale (home) & Glenroy (away)