By Gary Stocks
It doesn’t seem so long ago, that the North Beach faithful were celebrating a seventh successive A-Grade premiership.
That they were dancing in the aisles at Medibank Stadium, ushering in another addition to a record-breaking run. That the senior players assembled in the middle of the ground in fading light, linked arms and completed the ceremonial burning.
But time has marched on and when the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team storms onto the new-look Charles Riley Reserve tomorrow, there will be no members of that 2010 premiership in the line-up. The majority have retired, a handful are happier playing at a lower, less intense level.
So the baton has been passed.
It’s time for the next generation to carry the club back to the pinnacle of this ultra-competitive league.
If there was any doubt that this is the dawn of a new era, it was erased at last night’s 2015 season launch.
When senior coach David Hynes announced the starting 22 for the season-opener against University tomorrow, it bore absolutely no resemblance to that last triumphant team. Indeed, almost 50 percent of the playing personnel did not play in the A-Grade team at all last year.
Five graduates from last year’s Phil Scott Colts team will debut in this match, plus a couple of recruits Ben Hitchcock (North Albany) and Jason Davis (Kelmscott) will step out for the first time in the distinctive North Beach strip.
In addition, Mark Foreman, who spent last season in the US, vice-captain Mitch Dwyer, who played only a handful of games before traveling and Michael Italiano have returned and will add strength and vigour to the line-up.
Again Beau Witheridge is captain, with his support coming from Dwyer and Michael Taylor, while there is a strong leadership structure around them.
Last season the colts enjoyed an outstanding season, with both teams playing finals and the Phil Scott division making the grand final, losing by just eight points to University. As a result, five of those youngsters will play senior football tomorrow.
Interestingly, they are all eligible to continue in the 20-and-under competition, but the club believes it in the best interests of all parties that those players should be elevated to play seniors. So Joel Brown, Jarred Chapman, Rhys Holdman, Tom DeCourtenay and Jack O’Gorman will start their A-Grade journey against the Scholars.
It promises to be an exciting day of action with a new-look Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts team taking the field at 10.40am, followed by the Credent Financial Services A-Reserves at 12.30. Craig Dalton is again in charge of the Colts program while Scott Holbrook and Greg Pires will give direction to the A-Reserves.
Again, the A-Reserves boast a nice blend of youth and experience having revered stalwarts Holbrook and Pires at the helm will be a bonus.
Club legend Bill Duckworth is again coaching the third grade, while Daniel Wheeler and Novak Smith (aka Jesus) will pilot the fourths and fifths respectively.
Michael Newman has stepped up to the breach to provide direction and insight for the Brett Jones Colts.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
North Beach v University, Charles Riley Reserve, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
North Beach v University, Charles Riley Reserve, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
North Beach v University, Charles Riley Reserve, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
North Beach v Wesley Curtin, South Oval, 2.30pm
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach v Wesley Curtin, South Oval, 12.35pm
Red Hill Brett Jones Colts
North Beach v Wesley Curtin, South Oval, 10.40am
Express Bins E1-Grade
North Beach v Ocean Ridge. Aintree Reserve, 2.30pm