Drama a-plenty in April nine years ago
By Richard Jones
A multitude of off-field worries plagued the BFNL in April 2010.
Prime among these dramas was the investigation carried out into the actions of Kyneton coach Paul Houston during an alleged Round 1 incident.
It was eventually resolved by investigations officer Phil Norris that Houston had no case to answer.
Reigning Kangaroo Flat best and fairest player Brendan Hehir announced on April 14 he was retiring from the BFNL.
Admittedly Hehir was 35 at the time and had been hampered by a back injury during the 2009-2010 pre-season.
He hadn’t played at all in 2007 because of a knee injury.
And then Golden Square premiership player Christian Carter faced an anxious wait after injuring his knee in the Dogs’ final intra-club practice match at the end of March.
“He’s going to go and get it scanned this week so it’s just a wait and see (situation) at the moment,” Carter’s brother and Square senior coach Nick Carter said.
On the good news front, Sandhurst pair Jon Coghlan and Michael Cornish were back in the maroon and blue guernseys after missing whole seasons at different times.
Coghlan was back from a season-ending knee injury while Cornish had recovered from a quadricep problem.
While representing the BFL in the 2009 Bushfire Charity match against the Bendigo Bombers VFL side, Coghlan suffered his season-ending injury. He sat out the rest of that year.
Cornish missed a big chunk of 2008 when injured representing Bendigo at inter-league level and then spent all of 2009 while living in London.
Let’s go back to the Paul Houston case.
Castlemaine had requested the BFL look into the incident where it had been suggested the Kyneton coach had allegedly made contact with a Magpie player.
The Maine alleged Houston, coaching from the sidelines, had made contact with Zac Hansford during the Tigers’ stirring three-point win at the Camp Reserve.
But following Mr. Norris’ investigations and report the BFNL issued this statement.
“The BFNL has accepted the investigation officer’s report that no further action is required and the matter is now closed,” the league announced.
It was good news for Kyneton who had two big ‘ins’ for their trip to the Gardiner Reserve.
Bendigo Bombers’ pair Shane Page and Jack Redpath (later to forge an AFL career with the Western Bulldogs) were their two important inclusions.
Redpath had made his mark with the Tigers already. In round 9, 2009, Redpath notched three second-quarter goals against Golden Square before being knocked out.
Square eventually won by eight points but Houston was adamant that had Redpath remained on the field the Tigers would have been victorious.
Out at Dower Park the Roos had to re-group after Hehir’s announcement.
Already without injured captain Tyrone Downie, Flat’s run off half-back seemed certain to suffer without the 35-year-old Hehir showing the way.
He’d played two seasons and his smart reading of the play was crucial in a young Roos’ outfit.
I well recall one game out at Tannery Lane where Hehir was unstoppable on the wide open spaces.
Seemingly without a Storm player within coo-ee Hehir started forward move after forward move as he cruised up and down the scoreboard wings and flanks.
Coach Murray Collins and former mentor Darryl Wilson both praised Hehir’s contribution to the Roos.
The retiring Roo recalled his early days playing footy.
“I started when I was 15 at Bacchus Marsh where I grew up and I’ve been happy to play the footy I have since I did my knee as an 18-year-old at Geelong.
“I love my footy. I live and breathe it but I just feel that if I can’t give 110 per cent I’m letting myself and the Kangaroo Flat team down, and that’s where I’m at mentally,” the retiring Roo said.
He gave credit to Wilson for lifting the Flat up the table with the recruits he brought in while he added he’d been “a big wrap” for Collins when he took over the senior coach job at the start of 2010.
“So in a way I feel a bit disappointed I can’t go to duty with Muzza, but there comes a time when you just have to say --- enough is enough,” Hehir concluded.
On the Chris Carter front the Square small forward was to have surgery on his left knee on April 19th and was considering undergoing the same revolutionary treatment used on the Sydney Swans’ Nick Malceski.
In 2008 Malceski suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the first round of the 2008 NAB Cup.
Then an artificial ligament was inserted into his knee and he returned to AFL footy in round 8 the same year.
The Bulldogs were 2-0 when Carter was discussing his treatment but had made three forced changes with star players Luke Hammond, Jack Geary and Luke Rosa all out injured.
The replacements for the Castlemaine game were Michael Bateman and Danny Bateman --- who between them notched 13 goals the last time Square had met the Magpies --- and Matthew Sporn for his first senior game.
Castlemaine had selected big man Orry Cross to replace the injured Luke Walters.
The Magpies last win over the Square had been back in round 17, 2005, when they saluted by a massive 124 points.
Coghlan spent 2009 on the bench, so to speak, as he served as the Dragons’ overseer of match-day rotations.
“One of the big things I got out of last year was learning about structures and strategies around the ground, the importance of rotations and how to best play team footy,” Coghlan said.
Plus he had the enjoyment of watching younger brother Lee -- known around the club as ‘Leeroy’ -- play.
It was a big year for Lee Coghlan because as an 18-year-old he’d taken out not only the Michelsen Medal but the BFNL’s 2009 Rising Star award, as well.
Jon Coghlan played the first three rounds of 2010 across half-back with playing coach Kieran Nihill noting it was grest to have him back.
“He gives us a tremendous boost and it’s great to have Jon back playing. He is really important in the group to us in that he shows leadership beyond his years.
“That season he had on the sidelines last year has probably given Jon a a bit of a different outlook.
“Now, he always has a suggestion for me on something to try, which is good,” Nihill added.
The Dragons faced a tough task in the Round 4 Saturday night Anzac Eve clash against arch rivals Golden Square.
Hurst was going into the big match without key targets in attack: injured forwards Mark Fitzgerald and Simon Weekley.
Cornish, like Coghlan, was delighted to be back in the Hurst’s colours.
Last time he’d played with the Dragons back in 2008 when he was captain the famous old club had just avoided the dreaded wooden spoon.
Sandhurst finished just percentage away from 10th spot, in ninth position: their worst finish in many, many seasons.
Cornish remembered Jarrod Bateson and Matt Thornton (the Bear’s still playing) as teammates with the ex-captain’s first game for the Dragons since July 20th, 2008, when the Dragons booted just one goal.
It was a vastly different affair for Cornish on his return in 2010. Sandhurst nailed 20 goals against the Storm to snatch fourth spot on the ladder.
And with his first kick Cornish scored the opening goal of the game after just three minutes had elapsed.