With both the Demons and the Saints chasing a finals spot in the 2013 HDFL season, this weekend’s match up is huge. White Hills has made many local football experts look foolish by starting the 2013 season with a 4-2 record from six games, and Heathcote despite a slow start to the season had a great victory last weekend against Colbo.
This match could shape the 2013 final 5, a win to the Hillies will almost certainly lock up a top 5 finish for them, but a Saints win keeps 2 positions inside the top 5 alive.
This will be a great match-up and one worth the price of admission. White Hills knocked off Heathcote in 2012 (the first time they had achieved victory over Heathcote in about 5 years) but they have not won at Heathcote for a very long time and if the conditions are heavy Heathcote will fancy themselves to get back to back victories for the first time this year.
On the eve of this big match-up Central Vic Footy caught up with Heathcote Saints coach Grant Ford:
Welcome back to Central Vic Footy Fordy & congrats on the win against Colbo last weekend.
Hey Jugga good to be back on Here mate,
2 wins from 6 starts Fordy, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that the next two games (Vs. White Hills and Mounts) are huge for your season. Are you using finals as a motivation leading into these games?
Yeah wasn’t an ideal start for the boys this year or my coaching career for that fact, we haven’t really used the finals as motivation just yet as it is abit further down the track the coaching staff in myself Reece Carmichael and Marc Millard have more got the boys taking it one step at a time and taking it game by game and keeping the boys minds on the task at hand weather it be White hills or mounts.
This weekend you take on White Hills, the Hillies are in good form and will be keen to get a win at Barrack Reserve for the first time in a long time – where do you see this game being won and lost?
Obviously for us to win this game our on ballers need to get on top straight away and not blaze away like we have been the last few games. if our forwards in Frosty and Reece can Clunk a few marks early and go back and convert we should hopefully be able to run on with it, on the flip side with hillies big blokes all over the ground they will have an advantage which may unsettle a few of our structures.
I agree, I think the game will be won in the midfield, but White Hills have a spine that appears to be much stronger than it has been for the past few years (particularly forward of the centre). What are your plans to counter in-form key forward Charlie Bowyer (20 goals on the season) and big men Matt Sawyer, Matt Lehane & basketball recruit Chris Novak?
Just depending on the conditions really Jug, Frosty might find himself down back early to man up Charlie. Chris Chillcott has provided us with a target up forward throughout the year so far but he could also go back. To counter blokes like Sawyer, Lehane and Novak, we’ll be looking for a big game from Dan Russell, he will play a vital role for us along with blokes like Luke Carroll and youngster Dylan Brooks who’s been given jobs on Lachie O’toole and even had a crack at Spooner.
The White Hills defence is also solid with guys like Matt Frecker, Jason Curtain & Roh Bowles capable of shutting down their opponents and creating run from defence. What will be your message to your forwards this weekend?
We have mobile forwards which is a massive plus in my mind and our forward 50 pressure has been fantastic if the hillies start to run our forwards will need to be smarter with the ball and then make sure they don’t get caught out on the overlap and stay goal side of them.
Ok, onto your own fitness mate, how are you going? How’s your body holding up? Obviously the Saints are a better side with you out there throwing yourself around.
Yeah had a slight mishap at Huntly when I dislocated a knee for something different, but its not to bad now. I’ve worked pretty hard through this pre season and during training sessions to make sure I can get the best out of my body. I don’t think I’m making that much of a massive difference to be honest, just playing my normal game and flicking it out to which ever Saints jumper I can see.
You’ve been able to recruit/introduce a number of young talented players into the Heathcote side this season; can you give Central Vic Footy readers some info about the young blokes?
Yeah a lot of these blokes are young and inexperienced but the way we see it, if we can give them a good go this year in 2 or 3 years hopefully we are all still there and they will become more accustom to the senior game.
Nathan Bake: was recruited as a midfielder, but has found himself settle down in the back line, he reads the play so well and has no fear. Liam Jacques: Fresh up from the under 17′s, is a left footer has a lot of speed playing on the wing for me, he has a fantastic football brain and the kid is one to watch in the next couple of years.
Bringing in young blokes is a great way to go about it; we’re doing the same at Kangaroo Flat. Coaching is fun isn’t it? You’ve already had some ups and downs in season 2013, how are you enjoying the coaching side of things mate?
Still enjoying the challenge of coaching mate, was a bit of a reality check in how much is involved with it all but I’ve had a bit of time on my hands so I think I have handled it to the best of my ability. I have had a lot of blokes both old and new to the club giving me a helping hand along the way so I really appreciate those guys.
Final question, aside from a finals finish what goals do you have for the Saints for the remainder of the season?
Yeah finals is the big one at the moment, like every other club. But from a coaching point of view I’d rather see us be competitive every single game, whether it be against Locky, North Bendigo or Elmore. I’m also keen to develop a few of the younger blokes to set those blokes up for next year so we can start building the Saints name back up to where it has been the last few years.
Thanks for your time Fordy, good luck this weekend and for the remainder of the 2013 season.
This is a hard game to predict, Heathcote at home are a hard side to beat, but White Hills is a much better side than many predicted. If Heathcote can stop the influence of Dave Wright & Hayden Wright I think they will go a long way to winning the game, but I don’t think that will be as easy as it looks or sounds on paper.
Prediction: White Hills in a close one by 5pts.