Clubbers look to next generation

Connor Poulton. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 205541_11

Tara Murray

For the first time in a long time, there’s a little bit of an unknown with Yarraville Club in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association senior division.

A perennial grand finalist and premiership contender, the Clubbers have had a summer of change.

They’ve got a new captain-coach in Mitch Johnstone, while three of the club’s biggest names Emmett Bronca, Andrew Cullen and Adam Contessa have all retired.

They were hit for another loss, when former state player Will Sheridan decided that he couldn’t commit a month out from the season.

For Johnstone it’s a challenge, but also an opportunity at the same time.

“It’s a little bit of an unknown how we will go this year,” he said.

“We’ve got an established senior core, but it’s the young faces that are just as exciting.

“We might sneak under the radar in an even competition. Anyone can beat anyone and the shorter the format, normally means the closer the competition.”

Johnstone is the big inclusion into the side, having played second XI premier cricket for Essendon in recent years.

Chris Martin, who has captained Geelong West, is the other big in. Martin, an all-rounder, will help offset the loss of Sheridan.

Johnstone said other players would get more opportunities with the key departures.

“There’s guys who have played in the twos and or guys who played in the ones and played bits and pieces roles,“ he said.

“Now they might bat in the top four and bowl first change. There’s opportunities that aren’t normally there.

“The guys are excited. Daniel Janka played on the weekend and didn’t get a whole lot of opportunities, but has done everything right.

“Guys like Luke Destito, Connor Poulton and Allister Powell. They’ve had fantastic pre-seasons and will be thrown in the deep end.

“To play finals we need them to go to the next level.”

Despite the change over in the team, Johnstone said they were keen to keep the high standards intact on the field.

Since the 2003-04 season, the Clubbers have made 14 grand finals, winning 10 of them.

The Clubbers made last season’s grand final which was cancelled halfway through due to COVID-19.

The Clubbers were the higher ranked team in the final, but St Albans was awarded the premiership after St Albans successfully appealed the result due to the wickets being worked on overnight between day one and two.

“I’m new to the club and I want to respect and honour the past and the amount of success that they’ve had.

“We still have really high expectations, but it might be a bit more of a rollercoaster with the young guys learning on the job and with the one percenters.”

The Clubbers started off the season with victory against Keilor.

On Saturday in round two, they faced Aberfeldie and came away with another win.

The Clubbers made 8-209 from their 40 overs with Trent Lawford top scored with 72.

They then restricted Aberfeldie to 9-153.

James Damjanovski took 5-29.

In other results, Westmeadows beat Keilor, St Albans opened its account against Druids, Doutta Stars got home against Strathmore and Sunshine United beat Haig Fawkner.