It was the one word that best summed up Taree Wildcats’ Coastal Premier League Men’s first grade season – disastrous.
Coach Shannon Hall admitted as much after the Wildcats found themselves anchored to the foot of the ladder for the entire season.
As the dust begins to settle on their season, Hall still felt the main plus for his side was that the season allowed them use a large number of players for various reasons.
Short-term pain for long-term gain.
“The amount of young blokes that got a chance to taste first-team football will definitely bode well for the future,” he said.
A number of them played in the Manning River under-18 grand final so the season wasn’t a complete write-off.
And while the Wildcats managed to jag three wins in 2021 the coach felt there were still signs of improvement in the class of 2022.
He didn’t feel it was fair to compare the two teams.
“It’s a bit hard to judge because we had a vastly different team (this year) to the one we had the year before,” he said.
“We had a lot of older, more established players (last year) compared to this year, so for the future it’s better to give the young boys a chance. Now they know what the expectations are and hopefully they’ll kick on.”
Talented youngster Drew Cini was one of few shining lights for the Wildcats.
“(He) got a few chances in first grade last year but was only 16 and this season he bulked up a little bit, took his experiences from the year before and transferred it into impressive season for a young fella,” Hall said.
After conceding a mammoth 135 goals in 22 matches the Taree club’s improvement must start at the defensive end of the field.
It’s something Hall is very much aware of.
“We conceded over 100 goals and were in some games, but we just couldn’t bring it together week in, week out,” he said.
They remain committed to the competition at this stage.
“As far as I know a lot of the boys have gotten a lot out of it considering it’s not all doom and gloom for them,” Hall said.
“The opportunity to play against better players week in week out is something the boys do look forward to as opposed to playing local league with one first grade team where there’s not much competition.