MORE often than not, Coburg Districts enters the Strathmore Community Bank Division 2 season as a premiership favourite.
Last year was an exception, with Jacana going all-in with Cameron Cloke at the helm and a more than handy support cast around him.
The grand final followed the script.
“Last year was a very successful year for the footy club, apart from four hours,” coach Chris Tankard told essendondfl.com.au.
“We had nearly the perfect year and personally, if we do a couple of little things better, we win (the grand final).”
Cloke snagged seven in the decider but the best-on-ground medal went to ruckman Billy Morrison, who dominated after Division 2 B&F winner Luke Vesnaver’s troublesome shoulder gave out early in the game.
Ruckman Chris Lynch is therefore arguably Coburg Districts’ most important new recruit.
But it’s the arrival of defender Matthew Vesnaver (younger brother of Luke) from Pascoe Vale that has those at Cole Reserve licking their lips in the hopes of going one better in 2018.
Tankard says Luke’s shoulder is now “good as gold”.
“Everyone’s flying at this time of the year,” he said.
“I know the Selwoods would have gone hard in the backyard but these two (Vesnaver brothers) leave nothing out there when we’re doing one-on-ones at training.”
The Lions haven’t quite been as active this pre-season compared to those past and they haven’t really needed to be, with Josh Sims the only senior regular on the move.
As a result, some pundits have Coburg Districts going all the way this year.
Tankard and his footy club have become accustomed to high expectations.
“We embrace that every year,” he said.
“I‘d rather be in this position than where others are… not being talked about.
“(The group) have come back with a fair bit of confidence. They’ve worked pretty hard and really challenged with some of the stuff we’re putting into play with game style and modified it based on what their beliefs and their strengths are.
“With Matty (Vesnaver), Chris Lynch and some of the other guys coming in with different ideas from other clubs, they’ve helped unite the group and get behind what we’re trying to do.”
The Lions will be tested early with Moonee Valley and Roxburgh Park waiting for them to open the new season.
Key Ins: Matthew Vesnaver (defender, Pascoe Vale), Chris Lynch (ruck, Essendon Doutta Stars), Aaron Aquilina (midfielder, East Sunbury), Justin Blackley (defender, Roxburgh Park) & Anthony Vernali (forward, Hadfield)
Key Outs: Josh Sims (West Preston)
First Month: Moonee Valley (away), Roxburgh Park (home), Keilor Park (home) & Hadfield (away)