K rock Football

Grubbers to back in young guns

Ocean Grove celebrates winning the AFL Barwon under-19 Division 2 premiership. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

FIRST-year Ocean Grove coach Pete Davey will put his faith in the club’s talented group of youngsters as it looks to recapture former glory following a season of upheaval at Shell Road.

The Grubbers sacked rookie mentor Jordan Jones after 13 rounds as it slumped to its worst finish since 2005 in posting just four wins – two of those against the winless Portarlington.

However, Davey is keen to leave 2019 in the rearview mirror and start putting senior games into the young guns who took Ocean Grove to the AFL Barwon Division 2 under-19 premiership.

“We’re starting afresh with kids, and I guess that’s the mandate from here on,” Davey, who spent this year in charge of Ballarat league club Bacchus Marsh, said.

“We’re going to back the kids to get the club back to where it was 20 years ago.

“We’ve lost a fair bit of senior experience, albeit above 30 years of age.”

Among the departures are former captain and best-and-fairest Kelly Williams, who along with Justin Carey, has joined GDFL club Geelong West.

While Luke Cartelli, who won the Grubbers’ best-and-fairest in 2018, has headed back to Essendon and District club Keilor.

On the plus side, big man Andrew Jarvis returns from South Barwon, while former Williamstown midfielder David Stretton has arrived at Ray Menzies Oval having spent time with Goulburn Valley club Shepparton, which included a premiership in 2018.

But it’s the likes of James Paterson, who is training with the Geelong Falcons, son-of-a-gun Tom Richardson, and co-captains Kobe Annand and Max Sutton that Davey is hoping can make the transition to regular senior football.

“It’s exciting that we’ve got a successful group of kids who won a flag last year in the 19s,” Davey said.

“They’re going to get opportunities next year which they probably haven’t had previously.

“I hope James plays every game that he can with the Falcons, but I imagine he would be a walk-up (start) when he’s available.

Davey says Annand, who finished runner-up in the under-19 league best-and-fairest had attracted interest from GFL club.

“Kids that are that height that play good footy tend to get snapped up pretty quick,” Davey said.

“We sat down with him and spelled out what we were looking to do from a club perspective and where we could help his footy, and he’s excited by that.”

Richardson, whose father Adam is a revered figure at the Grubbers and played two AFL games with Adelaide after starring in the SANFL with West Adelaide, is seen as an influential figure despite turning 18 less than a fortnight ago.

“Richo’s great. He’s a been a real driver in keeping in those 19s together; he’s the glue of that group,” Davey said.

“We don’t want to put the pressure of the future of the club being on one person’s shoulders.

“But, he’s a big kid, and he’s got a lot of talent, and we hope he’s an Ocean Grove player for life.”

Ocean Grove opens its season with a Saturday night twilight clash against Newcomb on April 4.

Twitter: @tom_king79