The Sherwood Magpies Under 17s head into Sunday's second semi-final after an undefeated home & away season. They will come up against old rival Mt Gravatt in the top of the table clash, in what promises to be a very tough contest. Despite some recent injury setbacks, there is a lot of talent in the U/17 Squad and Pies coach Justin Gore is confident he has the depth to enable the side to triumph on Sunday and secure a spot in the Grand Final in a fortnights time.
Season 2015 saw some huge changes to the competition structure, with the addition of the u/17’s and u/19’s age groups to replace the previously long running u/18 competition.
After having gone so close to claiming the 2014 U/16 Division 1 title, and the dissolving of the Sherwood/Calamvale alliance, big changes were made to the youth football set up for the new season at Chelmer. The club appointed Queensland football legend, former premiership coach Quentin Johnson as youth football director and put in place his Development Program.
Realising the potential for a large turnover of players, Quentin approached the senior assistant coach of the last 2 years u/16’s , Justin Gore, and offered him the head coaching role of the new u/17’s . The coaching group was further boosted by the appointment of club legend and triple premiership player Reid Dobson, and current senior list member, the very experienced Bryce Crossley as assistant coaches. Combined with access to the senior teams fitness and conditioning coaches, the club proved it was prepared to fully support the Development Program and provide a clear pathway for this talented group of youth footballers to transition into the senior set up at the Western Magpies
After working hard through a preseason focused on improving core skills, building a base fitness level, and developingthe“Team 1st” culture, the squad headed into the season feeling positive about what could be achieved. Lachie Dennis and Jake Farrell were appointed Co Captains, supported by Zac Stegmeyer and Chae Lawson as Vice Captains. Bottom aged pair Billy Johnson and Sam Hartog completed the leadership group.
The squad had attracted a large number of new players, with 11 new faces in the line-up for the first game. That group included Riley Easton, who had joined older brother Brodie at the Magpies. The impact Riley made in the first couple of games saw him elevated into the senior list, and that was the last the u/17 squad saw of him! This is a perfect example of what the Development Program is designed for, providing a clear pathway to senior footy for the Magpies.
After having 9 boys selected in the various rep sides for the u/16’s state carnival, and having 3 senior players unavailable with long term injuries, it was a quality effort to get through the first half of the season undefeated. It was not without the odd challenge, with wins over Morningside, Kenmore & arch rival Mt Gravatt by less than 10 points. The boys were proving they were prepared to stick together when things got close, trust in each other and the game plan. The effort put in to educate the lads on the importance of everyone playing their role was paying off, as the team accepted and overcame every challenge thrown at them.
As the season progressed, the mounting injury toll was balanced out by the return to the team of important senior players Stegmeyer, Pershouse, Blackberry and Australian U/16 Cricket rep Blake Edwards. Still, with a list of 30 players, the squad went into a few games with just 20/21 players to choose from. This was an important phase of development for the squad, when everyone realised there was a role to play and depth in the squad was established. There is not one player in the whole squad who hasn’t played an important role in getting the team to this stage of the season.
Having progressed through the regular season without tasting defeat, it's a fantastic start to the Development Program and putting future steps in place for the club as a whole, with a total of 9 boys from the U/17 squad having had a taste of QAFL or QAFL Reserves football in 2015 - the fruits of the program are already showing.
However, as everyone will acknowledge, the task is far from complete and the Magpies still have the most important month of football for the year to come. There is a a clear choice in front of the boys, Keep driving the “Team 1st“ culture, continual improvement and find a level of performance our competitors can’t match that will earn the results the squad deserves, OR spend time listening to people slap them on the back, take the eye off the ball, and risk not achieving the results the team is after.
It’s a very exciting club to be around this year, with the senior team proving what a group of men totally committed to the cause can achieve, the awesome new change rooms, the improved club house and the development squad doing it's best to make the club the best place for your lads to improve their footy.
Sherwood Magpies U/17's taking on Mt.Gravatt Vultures at 2:45pm on Sunday August 30 at Burpengary for a spot in the 2015 Grand Final.
The boys would love your support, so please make every effort to get to the game to watch the best U/17 footballers in Brisbane go hard at it in a final that promises plenty of action, high quality footy and entertainment.
See you there