Werribee Centrals will look back on their Geelong and District Football League season as a building block for future success.
The Centurions’ third and last season under coach Peter Mark will show only five wins in the record books, but the young guns unearthed will stand the team in good stead for years to come.
Centurions president Ed Cachia is confident the teaching and match experience put into the young players during the winter will pay dividends for the club in the long run, even if it did come with its fair share of short-term pain amid a handful of exciting wins.
“With the salary cap and points system, it’s important that you try to bring up players from within,” Cachia said.
Even with a youth policy in full swing, Centrals need to bring in some experienced players to point the way for the youngsters and get the club back to challenging for the finals.
The Centurions have brought in a new coach in Nick Smith, who has used his contacts to get some battle-hardened players into the club.
“Obviously, we can’t just have a heap of 18 year olds running around in the seniors, so we’re trying to get a few more senior bodies around the place too,” Cachia said.
Smith is no stranger to Werribee Centrals. The 45-year-old was a member of the Centurions’ all-conquering three-peat premiership sides in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
As a coach, Smith has worked under Gary Ayres at Port Melbourne in the VFL, assisted at the Western Jets in the TAC Cup and, more recently, taken Mount Waverley to a premiership in the Southern Football League.
“He played in our golden era,” Cachia said. “Once he left Centrals, he’s spent the last 15 years coaching in all different grades, so we’re quite excited to have him on board and back at the club.”
Teenage sensation Brad Carlton took out the Werribee Centrals’ best and fairest award.
The GDFL rookie of the year, who spent time in the midfield and half-forward, was just 17 years of age for most of the season.
Josh Sloan, Daryl Chesterman and Jared Fletcher were other Werribee Centrals youngsters to emerge.
Fletcher caught the eye with his ability to play in such varying roles, spending time in the ruck, on the wing and forward.
In all, eight players from the Werribee Centrals colts team from 2016 debuted this season. The Centurions also had four players run out for Werribee in the AFL Victoria development league.
With three junior Centurions teams winning premierships, all that may be the tip of a fine iceberg.