By Matt Fotia
Upper Ferntree Gully have got themselves up and running in season 2021 at the 11th time of asking, with the Kings getting their first win of the year over fellow relegation fancies Lilydale by just the solitary point at home on Saturday.
The Kings had 15 scoring shots to nine for the game, with inaccuracy looking likely to rain on their long awaited parade all afternoon, particularly in the first half where they failed to put scoreboard pressure on the falcons, kicking 1.7(13) to Lilydale’s 1.3(9), before the Falcons hit the front heading into the final quarter.
A two goal to one final term helped haul the Kings over the line and more than likely drag Lilydale down to Division Two with them in the process.
Speaking on EFNL Sunday the next morning, first year playing coach Luke Tynan spoke about the intensity and physicality of the game.
“Extremely high, it was a very physical encounter with a lot of sore boys towards the end, so I think it was just one of those traditional close games where you just have to put everything on the line,
“We’re grateful that it fell our way on the day.” Tynan said.
Tynan also spoke about the position that the club finds itself in this season, citing the inexperience of his list as the reason they’d failed to notch a win in the lead up to last weekend, with a lack of on-field leadership letting them down at stages throughout the year.
“For a young group, when you get physically and mentally challenged you often don’t know how to react but we were up for the fight(on the weekend), pushing on and charging forward,
“The position that we’re in with such a young developing list, we’ve had chances throughout the year and let it slip, so it was reward for effort for the younger guys,
“To finally get that W next to our names can only build confidence and growth moving forward.”
Tynan said that the low scoring nature of Saturday’s win had very little to do with the surface at Kings Park, with the Upper Ferntree Gully’s home notorious for becoming somewhat of a heavy track in recent decades, with a lack of conversion the real reason behind the scoreline.
“I think the intensity of the contest was the reason for the low scoring game, more so than the conditions, there were still plenty of nice passages of play and it was a good standard of footy,
“We were setting up well behind the ball and generating opportunities, but we weren’t really converting them,
“I think it was one of those days where we it was weight of numbers on the scoreboard, because around the ground we were happy with how we were structuring up and how we were looking moving the ball.”
Despite the win Upper Ferntree Gully seemed destined for the drop in 2021, needing to close the two game gap between them and Bayswater who sit in eighth spot.
Whilst Tynan is understandably disappointed at the situation the club finds itself in, he believes there is plenty of reasons to smile if you’re a Kings fan.
“It’s a good and bad situation that we find ourselves in,
“We’re getting good quality games into our younger core of players, but the hard thing is that there’s just so many young guys in the side that sometimes when we get challenged there isn’t enough experienced guys to stand up in those times,
“But it’s only going to be onwards and upwards.” said Tynan.
Thomas Lovell is key part of that young core and the developing key forward has been putting in eye-catching performances despite his teams poor season, kicking 21 goals – including a bag of five – as well as six appearances in the Kings best players.
“He’s an unbelievable young talent and our problem is giving him enough opportunities to get involved in the game,
“I haven’t come across too many key forwards that are so consistently good – he’s having an impact on most games for us and has almost won us a few games,
“The more we can move forward as a footy club and give him more looks at the footy, (the more) it’s going to be exciting times.”
Only one player has appeared in Upper Ferntree Gully’s best on more occasions than Lovell, Tynan himself.
The playing coach has been in their best players seven times and has kicked three goals whilst playing a midfield role, however the ex VFL star hopes to shuffle into defence to aid both his side’s defensive strength and his own coaching abilities.
“At the moment I’m playing a bit of a Mr Fix-it role,
“For the majority of the year we’ve been inexperienced through the midfield, so I’ve spent a lot of time in there to try and get a bit of balance and direction through there, but we were able to bring in a couple of extra midfielders on the weekend which gave me the ability to go to half back,
“It was nice to get the freedom to go to half back and I think it’s easier to coach the game from behind the ball.”