Max's Musings: First Practice Match
By Max Philpot
The first practice match of the season against Sandringham was only days away, so ideally you would want a smooth sailing week with no interruptions or disturbance leading up to the first hit-out.
However, this was not the case.
Personally, rocking up late to the Monday night training session was far from how I had planned my preparation to go but you just have to ride with it. For those wondering, I did have a legitimate excuse and did not just get 'caught in traffic'. Back to training, Monday was a special night. Not only because we had a 20-minute training session but more importantly we had a crowd of the club's volunteers that we would honour later. Coming off the track to the applause of the volunteers was a great feeling and certainly one I look forward to experiencing on game days. Roles were then reversed as it was the playing and coaching groups turn to honour the volunteers at Volunteer Appreciation Night. Each volunteer was presented with their uniforms for the upcoming season and credited for their efforts.
After having a slow start to the week in regards to training we all knew that Tuesday would see training revert back to its usual self. A taxing session of two 25-minute halves of match play was the highlight of the night. This was a great opportunity to practice match specific structures and style of play in a game environment before Saturday's practice match. For me personally I found playing on two of the elite senior players in Sam Dunell and Leigh Masters a beneficial experience. Both are high half-forwards who work relentlessly up and down the ground, and also pose as marking threats, which definitely had me prepared for whoever I lined up on, on Saturday.
The last training session before the game on Thursday night saw the group split into Seniors and Development sides for the first time. This gave both playing sides, more so the Development team, to practice some forward entries and defensive exits with the people we would be playing with on the weekend.
Thursday also presented itself with a bombshell with the news that 2015 premiership player Mitch Banner had made the tough decision of retiring from VFL football to focus on work commitments. This news was very unexpected and unfortunate to lose such a highly respected player from the playing group.
Saturday - Game Day
Finally the day had arrived, after months of pre-season training we were finally playing a competitive game, albeit a practice match. The long travel to Seaford for the game at St. Kilda's training facility the Linen House Centre, was soon forgotten about as we entered the gymnasium, which were our makeshift change rooms for the day.
The pre-game was spent differently to usual as instead of being able to practice goal kicking on the field, I was trying my hardest to put it into the basketball ring. Soon after we had the final address from Development head coach Frankie Raso, who reinforced that we implement those things we had practiced in training, but the overriding message was clear, do what you do best. We then headed out onto the ground and were met with "I <3 Frankston" signage. I think some of the ex-Dolphins boys had some part in this.
The anxious feelings quickly went away once the game began and an early first possession. The Seagulls looked the dominant side early after a couple of early goals from Tristan Davies held the team in good stead. Coming in at quarter time the signs were promising. With all lines impressed with the good start.
The second quarter saw Sandringham start to add some scoreboard pressure as the contest started to open up a little. However, we did have some impressive pieces of play that saw the ball travel coast to coast and result in a major score. At half-time we re-evaluated and discussed the areas we needed to improve on.
The second half did not see us take full advantage of our dominance of forward half possession however that problem was eradicated in the last quarter when the forwards put the game to bed.
As a whole everyone was pleased with the seven goal win against a quality opposition and more importantly there were no injuries from the game. There were definitely areas that we need to work on, in particular some of the new concepts to the game plan, however that will improve over the next couple of weeks.
The senior side who played Sandringham afterwards also managed to come from behind and win by five goals.
Despite the varied preparation to the week with players coming into the side and a senior player retiring, the group was still able to perform at a satisfactory level. Overall it was a great week and I am glad that footy is finally back!
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