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By: Daniel Cencic
NARROWLY missing the 2019 Division 4 finals has been the key driver at Silvan this pre-season, with the Cats adding significant firepower and experience to their line-up.
In bizarre circumstances, Silvan missed Division 4’s final four last year by .55 per cent – edged out by Surrey Park – despite winning in the final round by 276 points.
Senior playing-coach Trent Martin says 2019’s curtain call has burned deep among the playing group in the lead-up to season 2020.
“It’s certainly talked about a lot at the footy club now and it’s something we’ve kept bringing up throughout the pre-season,” Martin said.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t make the finals.
“We thought we had a list to play finals and we didn’t (and) as far as I’m concerned, we underachieved because we really thought we could’ve gone deep into the finals.
“We proved that when we beat Fairpark only a month before they won the flag.”
Silvan will be ably-assisted in its bid to return to the finals for the first time since 2014 with the marquee signings of North Ringwood duo and 2015 Mitcham premiership players Jayden Hoegel and Rob Petracca.
Existing connections at the club led 31-year-old Petracca to join the fold as a playing assistant coach in the midfield, followed by key forward Hoegel who works for Petracca.
“They’ve come back to a lower level of footy and embraced our club and the culture,” Martin said.
“It’s been a really good mix with having them come in and adding some experience, and our under-19s won the flag last year.”
In what is set to be a dominant combination up forward, Hoegel joins 2019 Division 4 leading goal-kicker, Leigh Kimpton.
“Jayden is a forward that we know he can be – obviously with Leigh Kimpton kicking 79 goals last year, we can add firepower up forward and he (Hoegel) was someone we targetted,” Martin said.
“We’ve sort of got those bigger marking players that we probably haven’t had at the footy club since (Gary) Moorcroft was there.”
Silvan’s defensive stocks have also been significantly bolstered, with Martin bullish about the signing of ex-South Croydon defender, Darcy Brown.
Brown played just three reserve-grade matches at the Dogs in 2019, with this season poised to bring about more opportunities at senior level for the 28-year-old.
“I reckon he’s going to be the biggest recruit of the lot,” Martin said.
“He’s the first bloke I’ve interviewed coming to the club that wanted to play full-back.
“He’s a natural full-back which is pretty hard to find these days, especially on our small oval. He hasn’t missed a training session.”
Meanwhile, Lilydale product Harrison Beckwith has also made the move up the mountain, with family connections drawing the 22-year-old to the club. Beckwith, who played 53 reserves matches for the Falcons from 2017-2019, is slated for a ruck/forward role in season 2020.
With the Cats’ list remaining intact over the off-season, the club will be led by co-captains Jarryd Dietzel and Matteo D’Alfonso this year with D’Alfonso slotting into the role over the off-season.
The 20-year-old took the best on ground honours in the club’s under-19 premiership win last year.
“Matteo was an obvious fit – he’s straight from the under-19s and I made him a captain on our best and fairest night,” Martin said.
“Little things like that help retain the kids as well.
“He’s clearly in our best few players and wanted to play with his mates here and he’s the future of the club.”
Silvan begins its season when it hosts Chirnside Park at Silvan Recreation Reserve on Saturday, April 4.