Footscray – yep, that’s right, Footscray – is targeting the Victorian Premier Cricket top four this season.
The Bulldogs are back to their original trading name of Footscray this summer, dropping the Edgewater from their name after a deal with the local property developer came to an end.
Bulldogs president Geoff Collinson said the club had always been the Footscray Cricket Club.
“We traded for a while as Footscray-Victoria University when they provided sponsorship,” he said. “The Edgewater property developers provided us with sponsorship for five years, so we traded as Footscray Edgewater.”
Having won a first XI premiership as Footscray Edgewater four seasons ago, the Bulldogs believe they are in a strong position to challenge again.
The Bulldogs have injected a number of talented youngsters into the club, while the only major loss is star leg-spinner Jeremy Hart in a blow to their bowling stocks.
But the Bulldogs have depth right throughout the club and pressure for spots will be intense.
“We’ll be very disappointed if we don’t finish top four,” Collinson said.
The president says head coach Steve Chapman reckons the club has the strongest line-up of teams in his time at the club.
“We came fifth in the club championship last year and we’d be hoping to give that a good nudge this year,” Collinson said.
Footscray’s leadership stability is one of its greatest assets.
Chapman is back for a fifth season, Dylan Kight has retained the captaincy and stalwart Dean Russ is the vice-captain.
The coaching panel has been strengthened with the addition of Stan Nell, a former coach at Hawthorn Monash University and Greenvale Kangaroos.
“We’ve got a great reputation amongst all the clubs,” Collinson said.
“Players see us as a very good destination for support and coaching.
“It’s to do with our solidarity and our coaching structures.”
Guy Walker will be like a new recruit for Footscray.
The Victorian-contracted bowling all-rounder is back and looking to rip in after a shoulder operation.
“He’s looking to get on the park and have a full season to make sure he makes the most of his Victorian contract,” Collinson said.
Replacing a player with the experience of Hart, who took 34 wickets at 26.97 last summer, is difficult to achieve, but winter signing Mitch Barnewall will get the first crack at it.
“He was a Victorian under-19 spinner a few years ago,” Collinson said.
Footscray has brought in young batsmen Jordan Rossi, from Geelong, and Thomas Ewing, from Frankston Peninsula, for depth.
Father-son duo Harshad and Siddhesh Dixit have crossed from Greenvale Kangaroos to play for the Bulldogs. Harshad will coach the fourth XI, while Siddhesh is a promising young left-arm orthodox spinner.
“We’ve got some very good young talent,” Collinson said.
Footscray will open the new first XI season on the road against Prahran at Toorak Park this Saturday.