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About to start So lots of running, kicking, marking etc Just a note, Demonland has permission to use my Insta photos, nobody else does, so if you want to use, ask my permission, otherwise they won't be on Demonland either Will do a bit of 'reporting' later
Friday, November 20, 0945 hours Pretty big day for this individual. First of all, my one and only exam was completed yesterday, and secondly, today I find out whether I’ve been nominated for AFL Victoria’s Community Media Awards for the second year in succession, which at the age of 22 I see as a massive achievement. Anyway, I get here missing part of the warmups, as is almost customary for me nowadays, I couldn’t explain properly why that is the case. Anyway as I get here the boys are doing the same drill that they normally do when they start off with their drills for the morning, the handball drill where there’s a defender putting pressure on. In the middle there’s a different drill, where the boys are asked to kick to players in the same team until called to kick to the other team. I’ll probably try to better explain – there’s two teams of about four or five players, one wearing vests and one not wearing vests, plus a couple of players wearing orange for that matter as well, and the coach calls out which colour kicks to whom. If that makes sense. In the meantime, as I walk through to Gosch’s, Terlich finishes up early and walks by me; Smith and ANB are doing some running and I can’t really explain why, and Trengove makes a very welcome appearance. Not entirely sure what he is doing at this point. Vandenberg is having a run around the joint as well. Meantime checking out the personalities around the place Mahoney is hearing watching, as well as King Jackson who’s made himself a dead set legend yesterday by signing on for a couple more years. Top bloke. Next drill is a full grounder drill, two full teams, boys are going hard at it. Brayshaw is crashing into blokes and in one case manages to bring down Maxy Gawn. It’s not quite the full monty yet until everybody else joins the party anyway. In the meantime Kenty is still moving very well considering he hasn’t played for a few months, and Tommy Mc is still showing his versatility whenever the ball goes nearby. Having said that there’s quite a few slip and sliding around due to the wet conditions experienced after last night’s awesome storm. Speaking of storms, an early look at a possible game plan sees the boys storming forward whenever they get the chance to do that. The ball movement at this early stage is noticeably faster and there’s more of an emphasis on players moving positively whenever the chance is there to do so. There is still a bit of an emphasis on switching play – as most coaches probably would. Having said that despite all the positivity, there are still a few disappointing errors by foot. Some of these errors come about as a result of risky kicks, but there are also errors which come about due to poor kicks. Another bloke who’s moving around really well is Dom Tyson. This bloke’s going to be an interesting case in 2016. I think all Melbourne supporters agree that 2015 was disappointing for him but I think we also all agree that we knew he was somewhat affected by injury. Anyway, on the track at the moment, he’s moving around like he’s finding the 2014 silky-smooth movement again, even though that there is still a bit of tape around his knee, which is really good to see. I’m therefore looking forward to seeing what he does when he’s fully fit. More on the drill – the skills have improved markedly since I commented that they left a lot to be desired. Also it seems that there is a lot more confidence about with many players. Probably none more so than Jayden Hunt. He seems to be backing his speed a lot more and he’s also getting the chance to find a lot more space, which is really encouraging. I think 2016 is the year we’ll finally see him get games, and we’ll finally get to see the great #29 grace the field for the first time since the great days of Michael “Juice” Newton. Drill stops and the move to the other side of the ground to do some form of a defensive drill. On the near side of the ground where I am it’s good to see Dunny here a bit early like he normally is, having a bit of fun and having set shots… hold on, he’s a defender isn’t he? On the other side of the ground, it’s really good to see JKH all over this defensive drill, and intercepting a couple of kicks, which is exactly what I want to see. Just hoping that this year was just the classic case of second year blues. The drill stops for a period before the roles are reversed – the team with the vests are attacking and the team without them are defending… but that’s a loose term. Good moment comes when a kick opens up big Maxy 15 metres in the clear, Maxy gets there… but only just. One quintessentially classic panic handball later, the vest team are able to kick a goal having broken open the defensive structure that the plain team tried to implement too easily in the end. This is the same deal when the defensive structure is tried again, with a kick down the corridor breaking open the play way too easily, which is either good or bad depending on which team you want to focus on. After a short micro-break the boys go at it again… and again it’s basically the same deal without the result this time around. I’m looking around trying to work out whether it’s just that the team with the vests have more numbers or that there is a weak link which is hurting the plain structure. At the moment, it appears to be a case of the former. On closer inspection, there’s the same amount of numbers on both sides. Bit of a break, Frost is running laps around the oval, Hogan has seemingly appeared out of nowhere given I hadn’t seen him during the drills (not sure if I haven’t paid enough attention for that one TBH) and is having a few sprints just over a patch of the oval with Viney. There’s clearly a bit of friendly rivalry when they run around – think it’s almost like they have to start line astern with an alternate leader and then they have to make sure that they stay in front. Bit of a similar drill to what’s been going on basically all morning after a short break which is another pressure-based drill with game simulation. Again JKH is performing well when applying pressure, laying another couple of tackles. Really been impressed with his application this morning. As they have another chat all you can hear is the solid BEEP BEEP BEEP noise that the Storm are doing. It’s not entirely a beep test, but (BEEP) it’s (BEEP)in annoying. Thankfully the boys get back into it, coupled with the beeping noise stopping, so that I can focus entirely on the drill at hand and see who’s doing what. With Hogan, Viney and a few others sitting out of main group training for the time being it’s two groups of nine on nine… ahem, AFL 9s. The drill restarts and immediately there is an orgy of players all over the footy. Again, JKH doesn’t give an inch whenever anyone gets the footy, laying yet another tackle, this time on Harmes. Mind you there was about 15 or 16 players within two metres of the footy this time round so laying a tackle was straightforward. There was a bit of solid banter during the drill when Tom McDonald gets the footy and tries kicking it to King… only to have his brother intercept it! During the same passage of play, Hogan (who’s running on the oval) cracks the shits when he has players interrupt his run (as I said before, it’s a friendly rivalry with Viney that he has and he’s trying to better Jack’s efforts). The next time they go about it Harmes gathers from half back and goes for an electrifying run that last until about 20m from goal before he gives out a Joe the Goose to a teammate. I am a bit disappointed he didn’t take the initiative and kick the goal himself because that was every bit as good a run as Phil Manassa’s (albeit this is in training and not in a Grand Final with the game on the line). After that there’s more of a handball drill this time around. It’s similar to the kicking drill except it covers a much smaller patch of ground than the kicking drill which was basically a full grounder. It’s more of a five on five drill than the nine on nine we’ve become accustomed to, with all players basically starting side on. The boys then stop for a bit, have a casual kick to kick and then change into their running shoes. As ever they come with instructions – Press B to run like the wind! (points if you get the reference). Okey-dokes. The running. There’s two groups and one quasi-group which I’m not sure just starts slowly or is part of the other group, I don’t have a clue. First bit of running sees the boys go from the back pocket to the goal posts. Either side. Pleasingly for those who likes seeing epic running battles, Tom and Oscar McDonald are in the same group, which will make for good viewing when everybody else invariably slows down. Pleasingly, for the time being, Dom is up the front. Kennedy, by the looks of things, is up the front of the other group. Mind you, that group has Gawn, Frost, Kent and King in it, so it’s the same running group as when I was last here last Friday. For the time being though I’m really pleased that Dom looks back to his injury-free best, staying up the front the whole time. After a leisurely walk around the oval the boys head off for a spot of lunch, which is what I also do.