Round 18 - Preview 2012
HOWLONG premiership coach Marc Almond will stand down at the end of the season.
Almond informed the playing group on Tuesday that after five seasons in the top job he felt the time was right to move on.
“Five years is a long time at the one club in country footy,” Almond said.
“I arrived at the club with several goals and ambitions and I think I have been able to achieve most of them.
“The club has been great for me and I would like to think that I have also been great for them.
“But nothing lasts forever and I think the timing is right to part ways and pursue other things.”
Almond replaced Anthony Ross in 2008 and led the club to finals every season including the 2010 flag against Culcairn.
The Spiders are well poised for another flag assault, trailing second-placed Henty by percentage with a 12-3 record with three rounds remaining before finals.
Almond, a former Lavington assistant coach under Tim Sanson, said he thought the time was right to explore all options.
“I’m still fully focused on the job at hand and we are still very hopeful of another flag this season,” he said.
“But I love coaching and I wish to explore opportunities at a higher level,
“And by doing this now it gives both Howlong and myself the chance to see what is around.”
It is believed one Ovens and Murray club has already met with the 2010 premiership mentor about his intentions.
Almond declined to comment on the matter yesterday.
BILLABONG Crows coach Ben Kerr will stand down at the end of the Hume league season.
After two years at the helm, Kerr yesterday said the time was right for change and backed Crows officials to land a playing coach who could also attract several recruits in a bid to become a finals force.
“It’s what’s best for the club,” Kerr said.
“I’ve had a couple of years at it and we think that to go forward we need to get someone fresh with new ideas.
“Somebody who is not only a very good player himself but who can also bring at lest two or three decent players with him.”
Kerr, 34, plans to stay at the Crows as a player next season.
The talented midfielder took the club from 12th to 10th in his first season but has struggled to make further inroads this season after narrowly missing out on several recruits at the start of the season.
It is his second stint at coaching after he previously coached junior club Oaklands in 2002-04 before it merged with Urana to form the Billabong Crows in 2005.
Kerr said the club was definitely heading in the right direction with the club blooding several promising juniors during the past two seasons.
“I have definitely enjoyed coaching again,” Kerr said.
“We were hoping to do a little bit better this year as far as recruiting goes so we could win a few more games.
“But it didn’t work out that way.
“So we just went with the kids like we did last year which the club will benefit from down the track.
“Youngsters like Mark Beale, Matt Anderson, Tim Smith, Angus Bourchier, Joel Stankiewicz, Zach Kerr and Jesse Walker have all played seniors and are still going to school.
“They just need a few more senior players in the line-up to learn off and to instil a winning culture.
“We have definitely improved in a lot of areas this season and there’s only been two or three games where we haven’t been competitive.
“But other than that I think we have improved a lot.
“We probably should have beat Culcairn instead of only a draw when we led all day and I thought the week after when we lost to Brock-Burrum we played really well.
“We’ve had a few good efforts like that but obviously you would like to get over the line but they were probably our best games of the year.”
The Crows are 11th with a 2-12-1 record and Kerr is confident of finishing the season with at least two more wins.
“It was a disappointing effort against Rand-Walbundrie last week,” he said.
“I thought we were going to go better than that but they gave us a bit of a lesson.
“But we have got three winnable games coming up against Magpies, Walla and CDHBU and are confident of finishing the season on a high.”
Kerr said despite not yet achieving the on-field success the club was striving for, the merger had brought stability off the field.
“The merger has been a huge success,” he said.
“Both towns have really embraced it which is a bit of a surprise considering the rivalry between the two clubs before the merger.
“I was a bit sceptical when it first happened but now glad it all worked out really well because it’s doing wonders for the local community.
“The club is self-sufficient without either town having to chip in any extra money and it has just grown and grown and grown.”
Kerr said playing in the Coreen league 2003 and 2007 grand finals against Jerilderie and CDHBU was a career highlight, despite losing both by big margins.
“I haven’t probably haven’t had that many highlights when I think about it,” he said.
“But playing in both grand finals was good even though we suffered heavy defeats in both.
“Just the challenge of coaching has also been good.”
The 2001 Hawks best and fairest also cherished playing alongside his older brother Jason at Cobram in 2008-09.
Jason, an assistant coach with the Murray Bushrangers this season, also played a handful of matches with the Crows when his Bushrangers commitments allowed.
The super-fit veteran is well into his 40s and was also part of North Albury’s most recent flag in 2002.
Kerr rated mercurial forward Pat Beattie and four-time Archie Dennis medallist Tyson Moloney as his most talented teammates.
B-BURRUM v HENTY
The Saints should be refreshed after enjoying the bye last round but face a tough ask with Henty on the rebound. The Swampies looked destined to finish with a prized top-two finish but an upset loss to a resurgent Culcairn put the double chance in jeopardy. The Swampies have been without coach Brent Piltz since round 12 and sorely missed his steadying influence when the match was up for grabs last week. The query is whether the Saints have enough goal kickers to manufacture a winning score.
MAGPIES v CROWS
On form this should be a convincing win to the Crows after the winless Magpies were well beaten by second-bottom side CDHBU last week. Despite having Tony Pierri lurking in the goal square, the Magpies struggle to kick enough goals. Veteran defender Jamie Beattie bobbed up with a rare career goal last week much to the amusement of Magpies fans. Clever Crows goalsneak Josh Evans has booted 15 goals in his past three matches and would rate his chances of another bag on Saturday.
CULCAIRN v JINDERA
The Lions have suddenly emerged as a genuine threat after scoring back-to-back wins against flag contenders Howlong and Henty in the past fortnight. After struggling to kick goals all season, the Lions look a lot more dangerous in attack with Luke Taylor and Trent Logue tall marking options and Jarrah Maksymow and Cameron White dangerous at ground level. The Lions are set to be without livewire Maksymow this week but will regain running defender Matt Thorneycroft.
OSBORNE v HOWLONG
Match of the round and a must-win clash for the Spiders if they are to finish top two. Osborne enjoyed a 10-goal win when the two sides met in round 5 but expect a much closer contest. On that occasion the Spiders were missing Daniel, Darren and Steve Bradshaw and Troy Cooper but are expected to be close to full-strength. The Spiders enjoyed the bye last week and are expected to welcome back Josh Giansiracusa, Danny Hibberson, Adrian Rijnbeek, Aaron Barnes and Karl Jacka who all missed the loss against Culcairn.
WALLA v CDHBU
Despite a 7-7-1 record the Hoppers can still snatch a finals berth if they can win their final three matches against CDHBU, Billabong Crows and Lockhart. The Power scored a convincing win against Murray Magpies last week after they were buoyed by the return of ball magnet Jarrod Hanrahan and spearhead Doug Lavis. Hanrahan will face a fitness test tonight after rolling his ankle last week. Key defender Andrew Ollington will be after another big scalp after restricting Tony Pierri to two goals last week.