Noble Park Football Club

(03) 9546 0653

Noble Park’s first major task in a long pre-season for 2021 is complete.

It has locked in captain Kyle Martin, vice-captain Jackson Sketcher and the rest of the leadership group: Tommy Glen, Cosi Anagnostou, Kieran Byers, Lionel Benoit, Luke Bull and Tim Beech.

In the absence of face-to-face meetings, they committed via “docusign’’, football manager Steve “Dodoro’’ Coats’ new technology tool.

Martin is commonly regarded as the best player in local football – he’s won seven Noble Park best and fairests, including the past five – and Sketcher is now considered in the top bracket of Eastern players.

In his list of the top 20 EFL Premier players, Leader scribe and former league PR man Danny Cencic ranked Martin at No 1 and Sketcher at No 7.

Noble Park coach Steve Hughes said the club’s re-signings started at the top by design.

With the Eastern league Premier division salary cap to be sliced to $100,000 next year and players to take cuts to their match payments, Hughes said the Bulls looked to their leaders to lock in and lead by example.

“We thought long and hard about how to go about signing blokes, because its’ such a challenging environment,’’ he said.
“You’ve got one layer of the salary cap being stripped back by half and then another layer of COVID restrictions where you can’t meet people face to face.

“With 40 or 50 players on your list it’s very easy to give off the wrong message, along the lines of ‘Well, you’ll go and get this guy signed but not me’. So we thought it was best to hone in on our leadership group for a start and go from there.

“Testament to all of them, there are eight players there who said, ‘Yep, let’s do it’, irrespective of challenges around there being a whole lot less money to divide up. They’ve copped it on the chin and hopefully it builds some momentum for the rest of the playing group. We’re having a few chats now and we’re hoping we can tick them over one by one as quick as we can.’’

Hughes said clubs faced “probably the most critical off-season of them all’’ as the tried to keep their squads intact in a “hugely changed landscape’’ .

While money will be tight, he said the Bulls would be recruiting and hoping to find “diamonds in the rough’’.
He said he’d seen very good players who were on “not much money’’.

“We’re into that, we’re into conversations,’’ he said.
“What’s going to be important is your work ethic. If you sit on your hands and say, ‘We haven’t got much money’, you don’t know how all these conversations are going to unfold.

“You’ve got to be head down, bum up with your conversations and explore every option. Not all of them will come off but we’ll be active because we need to improve our list.

“You’ve just got to kick over a few rocks and find a few diamonds in the rough. We play at a high standard in local footy and that’s an attraction in itself.’’

As for Beech’s appearance in the leadership group, Hughes said he “oozed leadership’’ and “was made of the right stuff’.
“He’s such a respectable young bloke, holds down a conversation well, has got good philosophies on all aspects of life … he’s a beauty,’’ he said.

“Typically the leaders of your club are your best players, and someone in the middle of the reserves list going through a rough spot might not feel they can approach those guys. But with a player like ‘Beechy’ – and sure, he’s not in the best eight footballers in our club – anyone can talk to him. It gives you a bit of balance.’’

Written by Paul Amy See Less

Noble Park Football Club is an affiliated club of NOBLE PARK FOOTBALL SOCIAL CLUB.