K rock Football

No farewell for Ricco

Outgoing Bannockburn coach Peter Riccardi. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

PETER Riccardi’s six-year tenure as coach of Bannockburn will end with a whimper rather than a bang following the cancellation of the GDFL season.

The league’s executive made the call on Wednesday night to pull the pin following the extension of the COVID-19 lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne until at least September 23.

Riccardi, who took the Tigers to a drought-breaking premiership in 2019, admits he’s disappointed at not being able to guide the club to a fifth finals series.

“I suppose it (cancelling the season) was inevitable in the end,” he said.  “We all knew it was going to be a longshot to get this going again.

“I’ve had a great six years at Banno. It’s just disappointing the way it’s all ended up.”

Riccardi was confident Bannockburn, which had earned the double-chance by finishing second, would have given a good account of itself in the finals.

The Tigers were due to play Bell Post Hill in a qualifying final before the most recent lockdown in regional Victoria was announced on August 21.

“Inverleigh was the yardstick, but it was the first time we had to make tough (selection) calls on the Thursday night with a full list apart from ‘Parso’ (Tom Parsons),” Riccardi said.

“”Kizza’ (Kieran Fulton) and Blake (Miller) had only one game together. ‘Tritta’ (Tristan Battaglia) was back and had only played 3-4 games.

“The forward line was the only thing that wasn’t connecting because we didn’t have that continuity in there.

“We know our backline holds up, and we know our midfield’s good enough; we just had to get that continuity in our forward line.

“Before the last break, in match sim and training, you could just see that coming together.”

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Riccardi believes whoever replaces him at Victoria Park will find a club well-placed to compete for premierships in the short term.

“There are that many juniors coming up from the under-19s, too,” he said. “There are 26 kids who will come up and play senior football (in 2022).

“We gave them a bit of a taste during pre-season, and a couple of boys played during the season.

“Unfortunately, with only playing the 12 games, we didn’t get a chance to showcase them.

“We were trying to get games into blokes the same time as wanting to play the young kids as well.

“It just didn’t work for us as much as I would have liked. But there are going to be 5-6 that are going to be able to play senior football next year.”

Twitter: @tom_king79