By Nick Creely
Tooradin-Dalmore coach Lachie Gillespie said it last year, and he’ll say it again – the club won’t accept anything less than a finals appearance.
The Gulls finished two wins behind Doveton in fifth last year, and Gillespie said that the pain of 2017 has definitely driven his troops to reach greater heights this season.
“Last year, we had high expectations and it didn’t fall our way, but we learnt a lot; you learn a lot from your failures, we got a lot out of last season,” he said.
“There is no ceiling, I feel like our expectations are all that matters, I won’t put a ceiling on the boys; we’re ready, we’re primed and finals are a must for us, but I said that last year.
“We feel like we’ve definitely improved, for sure.”
The Gulls have lost Nick Jansen, Josh Muling, Nathan Page, as well as both Setanta and Aisakie O’Hailpin, but have gained some handy players, with Dean Warry and Dylan Wilson putting pen to paper, and Gillespie is thrilled that his core group will remain together in 2018.
“We’ve been lucky; we’ve lost a couple of good players, but on good terms, and we’ve gained a few; the players we’ve gained are in positions we probably think we’re lacking,” he said.
“We’ve got a more even spread, we’ve got a good list and I’m hoping we can do some really good things this year.”
Gillespie warned his side have tinkered their brand slightly, and will be looking to gain more respect from rival clubs.
“Tooradin’s a funny one, speaking to other clubs, everyone probably thinks we’ve got potential, but at the same time probably haven’t gained full respect because we haven’t had the wins on the board,” he said.
“Last year, we had a particular style we wanted to play, but probably couldn’t voice that, and for the players to understand; in the last half of last year we found where we needed to be, and we now have a particular style that we think will suit our players, and even more so because we’ve kept the same core group together.
“We now know what we’re good at it, and what we need to work on.”
The Gulls will be captained by Matt Livermore, with Nick Lang, Andrew Dean and Jake O’Donnell forming an exciting leadership group.
But it’s the youngsters that excite Gillespie the most, with some of their local juniors ready to take the plunge into bona fide senior players.
“Our core group has been fantastic, our leaders have been brilliant, but some kids that have come up have really stood out, such as Kris Sabbatucci, Brad Lenders, Nick Schumann, those kinds of guys, they’re looking primed and ready to go,” he said.
“I’m excited about our young list, and it’s fantastic to be in a position that the growth of our list is nice; to have this local bunch, it’s really exciting.”
But while Gillespie concedes Berwick will once again be hard to beat, he predicts one of the most even years in memory.
“When Berwick don’t lose a game it has to be them up there again, but I’m very wary of pigeon holing teams; I’ve done it in the past, and you think a side is down and out, and they can turn it around very quickly; we really don’t know what’s coming, which is exciting,” he said.
“It could be anyone’s game, which is great, and it’s exciting for the club; we feel like the club’s balanced out, and it should be an interesting year.”