AFTER the disappointment of two interrupted seasons, the Bloods will be looking for certainty and stability in 2022.
The man to steady the ship is Jarrod “Shark” Fisher, who has been reappointed as men’s senior coach after taking the role near the start of the 2021 season.
Aquinas Old Collegians Football Club president Chris Jeffrey said the club was excited to have Fisher locked for 2022.
“The club has gone up grades in recent years and we needed to stabilise in 2021, and he (Fisher) enabled us to do that,” he said.
“The results towards the lockdown were looking very positive, we were beating some of the better sides and you could see the boys were starting to get a bit of momentum.
“Sharky is a great guy and he’s really grown into the role after stepping in in difficult circumstances.
“We’re really excited to see what he’ll get out of the group in 2022.”
The Bloods senior men recorded four wins and seven losses in 2021, including a tough win away to top-four side Old Paradians in June before the season was suspended and ultimately cancelled.
Fisher said the abandoned season was one to forget, and he was expecting bigger and better things in 2022.
“My expectation for all three of the men’s teams – 19s, reserves and seniors – as a minimum would be for finals football,” he said.
“Last season, all the on and off again, with training and games. It was very hard work.
“The boys stuck fat, and we had a couple of good wins despite a shocking run with injuries.
“The potential is there to play finals, I just have to get the best out of them.”
The returning coach will be joined by good friend Luke Harley, who joins the club as a playing assistant coach.
Fisher said the chance to chase more senior success was too enticing to pass up.
“We’ve had some really good success since I arrived in 2017, winning two flags, and I want to continue that trend,” he said.
“I’d love to retain our current playing list and I’m expecting to see the players coming up from the under-19s make some really valuable contributions to the senior side.
“I’m excited to see what we can achieve with this young and talented group, and hopefully jag some more silverware for the club.”
The club’s pipeline of young talent is set to continue under the watchful guise of club legend Craig Glennie, who will once again coach the under-19s in 2022.
The Ox led his young charges to a 10-0 record in 2021, and said they were all still feeling the disappointment of being denied a chance to play finals.
“I thought our best football was ahead of us, I was really looking forward to seeing what we could do in finals on a bigger ground,” he said.
“It was very heartbreaking, especially having both my boys in the team. It would have been quite a thrill to have a chance at winning a premiership together.
“All the players are very keen to go around again. Everyone just wants to have a season which consists of 18 games and has something to play for at the end of the year.”
In exciting news for the Bloods faithful, Ox said there would be several talented players moving up to the senior ranks in 2022, including key position prospect Cal Pedretti, intercept rebounding defender Matt Steiniger and big-bodied midfield hardman Garrison Asciak.
He definitely, absolutely didn’t mention his own very talented son Josh.
The Bloods’ women’s teams had a dominant 2021, with both sides reaching grand finals which never went ahead.
Jeffrey said the club was in a strong position off the field to match its recent strong on-field performance.
“We’ve done a lot of work off the field, it’s given us a bit of time to concentrate on key aspects of the club, like facilities,” he said.
“Having a new facility at Manson Reserve is a huge boon for the club and takes the pressure off our relationship with the school. It’s quite exciting having a new home.”
Jeffrey also made special mention of sponsorship manager Andrew Gommers’ continued efforts to secure funding for the club, highlighting the Coach & Horses Hotel in particular for its contribution.
“The club’s in a very healthy position heading into 2022,” Jeffrey said.
Jeffrey said he was looking forward to making more announcements about the club’s incredibly successful women’s teams in the coming weeks.