Let there be no illusions, Hillside Sharks want to play Essendon District Football League division 1 finals for the first time.

The Sharks narrowly missed out on finals last season by percentage behind third and fourth-placed Westmeadows and Oak Park – and they don’t want to suffer the same fate this season.

Sharks’ football manager Cole Harvey said the club had been on the track since November.

“We were obviously disappointed to miss out on finals,” he said. “We lost two games during the year, to Hadfield and Taylors Lakes by big margins and they came back to bite us.

“It really showed you can’t take it easy … you have to win every game.

“Playing division 1 finals is the goal of the whole club,” he said.

The Sharks have the younger brigade coming through this season, and their under-18 side won its premiership. With that in mind, the club didn’t attack the recruiting period too hard.

Anthony Aloi and Julian Hemala join from Greenvale, Matthew Patane has come across from Hadfield, Brody Psaila made the move from the Western Region Football League, and EDFL premier division players Joseph Drake and Reece Tompkins also join the Sharks.

“Steve [Burns, coach] and I targeted players we need to top up … the list we’ve put together is young, so we’re expecting a fair bit of organic growth as well.

“There’s a handful of very good players from under-18s, who will get the opportunity to play senior football this season.”

Harvey said Mohamed Taleb, who has taken up body building and will not play football at all, was the only loss from last year’s squad.

While spending plenty of time on the track during the off season, the Sharks have been busy off field too, signing coach Steve Burns to a contract extension that keeps him on as coach at least until the end of next season. Harvey said it was an easy decision to start contract negotiations after just one season.

“Steve’s impact on the whole club, including players and staff has been massive … he is leading the way and has been great for us.”

The Sharks start their season on Good Friday against Taylors Lakes, after three practice matches in the lead-up.