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Yarra Valley Water InFocus 2024 | Knox

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By Ryan Long.

The young up and coming Falcons made a statement at home on Saturday, set to be a big improver in their new division this year.


Last year, Knox fell victim to Division Two’s double relegation despite a resurgence in the back half of the season after losing their first nine games.


EFNL great Steve Buckle completed his first season as Senior Coach of the Falcons, pleased with what the side was able to do later in the year.


“We had such a strong pre-season and the new game style started to click in the pre-season, but once you come up against some proper opponents and put under some serious pressure, it took a little longer to adjust than what we first thought,” Buckle said.


“The second half of the season, the penny started to drop, getting that win against Ringwood in round ten, that was a ten-goal turnaround, a five-goal turnaround against Upper Gully, a 100-point turnaround when we played East Burwood as well,”


“All in all, you could see some positives and that we’re heading in the right direction.”


They enter a brand new division this year which has become a ten-team competition with the addition of Knox, Upper Ferntree Gully and Surrey Park.


“The only one we know a little bit about is Upper Gully,” Buckle said.


“Presents some great challenges for us, some quality teams down there but I guess the positive thing is they don’t much about us and we don’t know much about them,”


“We’re all going to do our homework and make sure we’re ready to take everyone on because I think it’s going to be a really strong division.”


Heading into the 2024 season, the club has done some subperb work on the recruiting front. With a young list, Buckle and the Falcons crew have been able to bring back some experienced heads to help assist what is still a young list.


“Some guys returning to the club, Gavin Pears, Jackson Anderson, Mitch Greaves have come back,


“Dysan Morris has come across, was a player assistant from Berwick springs, he’s come down, Matty Stein as well,


“So we’ve picked up a few, our average age was around 21, 22 last year, that now probably brings us up to 23-24 with those older experienced heads which will hopefully help us be a bit more balanced across the field,”


The playing group have all had a very promising pre-season with many of the group’s stars from last year set to take another step forward.


“The three O’Brien boys have been really good, big pre-seasons themselves, Harry, Benny and Will, Steiny’s (Matthew Stein) had a great pre-season as well returning to the club.


“These boys are still young enough and looking to have a decent season,” Buckle said.


“You throw guys in like Gavin Pears, Jackson Anderson and Dysan Morris that hasn’t missed a beat,”


“Our homegrown talent as well – Murray Edwards has had a massive preseason, Clay Heppell, our skipper has had a huge preseason, Ethan Murray.”


“Right across the board, we’ve been pretty strong through the pre-season, think if we can hold that form and get it right on match day, think they’ll all be in for decent years,”


Knox couldn’t have asked for much more in their Round One contest with an impressive 74-point win over Silvan.


A lot of their recruits that Buckle mentioned in the pre-season have hit the ground running. Their best players on the ground included Gavin Pears and Mitch Greaves who have returned to the club as well as Ben O’Brien after having a great pre-season.


It wasn’t just the seniors that walked away happy on Saturday, both the Under 19.5’s Reserves team celebrated wins against Upper Gully and Silvan, as well the Senior Women’s practice game victory.


Steve Buckle made note of the impressive group of coaches he gets to work closely with across the season.


“New assistant coaches in an old club legend, Danny Adams, the former Forest Hill coach Justin Scicluna and Lucas Woodward,”


“All line coaches for me have provided great support along with our development team coach Clint Simms, he should have better success this season as well due to us having greater depth.”


Although it’s early days, the club are in a great position going forward into the 2024 season.


Buckle has been thrilled with the support of everyone involved at Knox over his time at the club, hoping to bring that long-awaited success home.


“The culture that we have, it was already there but we’ve built that even more.


“The committee from day dot since I’ve been appointed, has been a great support, they’ve provided me with all the resources I’ve needed.


“I think the support network around the footy club is one the best I’ve ever been involved in, if not the best. Great support network and, a great bunch of young guys who are close on and off the field,


“Hopefully these boys, the committee, the supporters can get some just reward for all the hard work they do give us,”


“It’s been a long time since this footy club has had some success so hopefully we can create a winning culture.”


At the end of Round One, Knox sits on the Home and Away ladder, set for a road trip this Saturday to Coldstream Reserve.


The Senior Women’s group are also set for big things in 2024 as well, remaining in the Division One competition after a successful transition from their 2022 Division Two premiership.


Taking over the role of Senior Coach of the side is Mark Eisenbise.


Eisenbise is coming off the back of a successful 2023 season as the Basin’s Senior Women’s coach, leading the Bears to a Minor Premiership and a Grand Final appearance.


“Super excited, they’re a young group of girls that are very excited about their football,” Eisenbise said.


“Been a really good placement, Just seems like the right place, right time, the right moment and it’s gelling really well.”


It’s the perfect transition with Eisenbise knowing the division one competition very well, including Knox’s senior group that he coached against twice last year.


In what is set to be an even six-team competition, there’s plenty of room for growth for the Falcons as they eye off a top-four spot.


“They finished fifth last year, just outside of the top four and they’ve got a lot of talent so I’m excited to see what the group can do and we’ve added a couple of other players that have come from another folding club,”


“Hoping to go pretty deep into finals.”


Across the pre-season, there have been several players that have impressed Eisenbise walking into the club.


“Both the Holly’s are outstanding – Holly Gibson and Holly Mastin, Cass Warren,”


“It’s such an even spread, we’ve got Makaela who plays ruck and we actually put her forward in the practice match and were able to get a couple of score involvements.”


“I don’t want to single players out because we’re quite well spread but the true test is going to come when we start the season,”


A key focus that has been addressed with the group this season is player empowerment.


“For me, my coaching philosophy is all about player empowerment, encouragement and positive talk,” Eisenbise said.


“You’ve got to be able to get to know your players, be able to find what their strengths are but also build a team of unity,”


“They’ve already got comradery, It’s just about extracting what’s best from each player for the betterment of the group and they’re very open to that,”


“They’re high achievers, if we can harness the potential, they have to come out on game day, we should be able to go far.”


There’s plenty of talent on the list, many with premiership experience from 2022, other players joining the club for the first time as well as an increase of youth via the junior pathway.


There’s a great mix of belief and talent that is set to take Knox to a new level in 2024.


“We sat together and they decided they don’t want to just play finals, they want to go deep in finals,” Eisenbise said.


“If that means we play our first final and lose, okay, well we got into finals and that’s one step further than what we did last year,”


“If we go two games into the finals, that’s two steps further,”


“I’ve got a lot of faith in this group.”


Knox is set to start their 2024 season campaign on the 20th of April when they face East Ringwood.

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