THE 2021 SFL season ended for the New Norfolk Eagles following an 81-point loss to a more powerful opponent in the Dodges Ferry Sharks.
It was a disappointing end to the season, however there were many positives in a season that was decimated by injury.
Senior coach Josh Clifford addressed the players after the last game and simply stated that his side was not good enough against the top sides this season.
He advised that he would be standing down as coach, but his love for the club would see him keep playing.
Josh is a valued and experienced member of the squad and has played in several winning senior grand finals. He has coached the seniors for the last three seasons achieving finals appearances in each season.
He has been a great mentor for the young players coming through the system. Reflecting on the season the Eagles failed to string wins together consistently.
They could not gain momentum, winning one week and losing the next.
They played some great footy at various stages against the top sides but could not perform consistently for the full four quarters. Inconsistency and injuries to key players were a major factor in the 2021 season.
We lost Jack Stevenson, Bryan Chaplin, Tim Butterworth, Caden Wilson, Tyson Eiszele with season ending injuries. Injuries at unfortunate times to Josh Hills, Jack Crossin, Brock Triffett and Blair Wardlaw really stretched our depth.
On a positive note, the boys from the Valley did make the finals and the coaching panel introduced several exciting young players to the Senior side over the year.
The development of our younger players has been great to see.
We have seen significant improvement from Will Banks, Tyron Bailey, Brock Triffett, Jack Stevenson (injured), Braden and Bailey Chaplin, Jack Hills, and Rowan Thomason this season, which augers well for the future.
We have also seen several Colts players step up to assist the Seniors and Reserves which is also a pleasing sign. Captain Jacob Wigg returned after a long-term injury midway through the season and worked his way back into form. On-baller Jamie Sokolski had a blinder of a season along with Jye Bearman and Josh Farrow who were consistent contributors throughout the year.
Veterans Josh Clifford, Rohan Heron, Benny Lovell, and Blair Wardlaw continue to lead the group and have been great players and stalwarts for the club.
Newcomers Jack Crossin, Tyler Ford, Corey Jetson, and Tim Butterworth (retired) all contributed. We hope to see them all at the club next season along with other Senior players such as Nathan Eiszele, Jacob Daley, Jordan Banks-Smith, Rhys Heald, Ashley Burgess, Josh Hills, and Jake Bearman.
Coach Josh Clifford and Assistant Coach Robbie Iles would be pleased with the good performances the boys have produced this season and we congratulate and thank them for their hard work this season.
The Colts finished the season in fifth position on the SFL ladder with six wins and eight losses.
The wins were impressive and the losses full of merit as they showed glimpses of good football against much stronger opposition.
Several players were required to also play for the Reserves.
These boys performed well and gained valuable experience.
It has been great to see the improvement these boys have made this season.
At the beginning of the season, we were unsure if we would be able to field a team.
With a lot of hard work from Coach Paul Clark and assistant Anthony Bean they gradually got enough boys together to get the season started.
With the rotation of some of the under 16.5 boys from the Junior Club through the team they improved that much that they played finals.
This was not considered at the start of the season.
Coach Paul Clark and assistant coach Anthony Bean would be pleased with the progress and improvement shown by the young side this season.
Using of some under age players this season has provided them with valuable experience for the future.
This young group of players has the potential to improve significantly next season and coach Paul Clark would be looking forward to taking these boys to the next level and to prepare them for Senior football in the not-too-distant future.
Under first-season coach Ben Shaw, the women started training in November 2020 and had 30 different faces roll through over this period.
The coaching staff concentrated on the basics, while also adding some experience with Carolyn Mart, Steph Claridge and Jaymee Lee Mansfield joining the club from North Hobart.
Former under 17 premiership players Sophie Farrow and Tahylar Tangata also joined the team this season.
The women finished the season in fourth place on the SFL Division 3 ladder, winning four games and losing eight games.
In a season of firsts, they won their first ever game and made their first ever finals appearance.
This season was a significant step in their development. It was great to see the improvement the women have shown, and finals were a just reward for the effort they have put in since they began training in November last year.
Strong performers for the season included Sophie Farrow, Tayhlar Tangata, Danielle Clifford, Kaitlin Rainbird, Carolyn Mart, Mia Temple, Jorja Franklin, Jasmin Skelly and Laura Wigg.
The Reserves finished the home and away season in third position on the SFL ladder behind Lindisfarne and Huonville.
They won 11 games and lost four games for the season.
They have now won their qualifying final against Dodges Ferry and will compete with Huonville for the right to move into this year’s Grand Final.
It has been a great year for first season playing coach Bryan Chaplin (injured) and assistant coach Bradley Chaplin.
They would be extremely pleased with the performance of the boys this season, particularly as the reserves were required to supply players to the senior side regularly this season due to the high number of injuries.
Strong performers this season included Torne Tangata, Clinton Curtain, Andrew Minchin, Jack Hills, Jordan Eiszele, Jake Foster, Nathan Ford, Michael Murray, Corey Ransley, Luke Browning, Jaidyn Fisher-Cooley, Brett Hodge, and Tyler Purdon.
The New Norfolk District Football Club thanks Bryan and Bradley for their great work with this group this season and all the players for their dedication
Report by Chris Lovell