By Gary Stocks
A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. The North Beach Football Club began its latest venture into the unknown early this season with a vastly different senior squad.
With just a handful of players around the group, who had been part of the amazing dynasty that won 10 premierships in 16 seasons under Bill Duckworth, the next generation was ushered forward.
With a heavy emphasis on youth, many of the players who took the club to a Phil Scott Colts grand final last year, there was an understanding of those around that club that there would be some ups and downs in the season.
After completing the first full round of fixtures last Saturday, there have been more highs than lows. A couple of disappointing performances for sure, but in the main the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team has been resilient.
The endeavour has not been questioned and by accounting for Mt Lawley last week, the Beach is in seventh position as the competition reverts back to its beginning.
The difference this week is that rather than playing University at home, the Beach ventures to UWA Sports Park (McGillivrary Oval) to tackle the students on their own patch.
One of the disappointments was a first-up lost to Uni. A loss that cut deep because for the most part North Beach controlled play and led for all but the last 20 seconds of the game.
So tomorrow presents an opportunity for atonement. The chance to again test their will against a team that has been the competition benchmark for the last four years.
In the last nine weeks the youth within the team has matured. Players like Joel Brown, Rhys Holdman, Michael Schofield, Nick Reid, Mark Foreman, Jack O’Gorman, Jarrod Chapman, Mitch Cameron and Tom DeCourtenay have all benefited from exposure to senior football.
They, along with many others, represent the present and the future of the club and have shown it is in good hands.
There is no doubt that since the start of the season this team has grown. That the unity within is tangible and they are enjoying the company of each other as they strive to take the club back to the pinnacle of the competition.
With captain Beau Witheridge leading the way, with great support from other senior players like Michael Taylor and Mitch Dwyer, Sam Lamont, Christian Bottechia and Kyle Holden there as a sense they visualise the destination.
Witheridge, in recent weeks, has taken his leadership to another level. Not just communicating with the younger players to provide direction, but stepping up when someone within the team needs to make a statement. Seizing the moment.
For so many reasons this clash with University will be intriguing and should warrant the North Beach supporter army turning out in force to urge this team to victory.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves, also boasting a strong contingent of players still eligible to play colts, have prospered this year and are entrenched in the top three.
This clash with University should be intriguing with the result helping to shape what looms as an interesting run home with clubs scrambling for that all-important double chance at the end of the qualifying rounds.
The first game on the schedule, the Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts’ confrontation with the Scholars, should be fascinating.
In the opening game of the season, the Beach was out-muscled by Uni, but have grown in stature, confidence and belief since. They have begun to understand the game plan and what is expected of each of them in their roles and they will be looking for a bold performance.
It will be worth getting along early (10.40am start) to see this clash between two talented teams.
Before a narrow loss to Mt Lawley last week, North Beach had not lost another game after that first round defeat.
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
University v North Beach, McGillivray Oval, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
North Beach v Scarborough, Charles Riley Reserve, 2.30pm
Hybrid Lining D1-Reserves
North Beach v Scarborough, Charles Riley Reserve, 12.35pm
Red Hill Brett Jones Colts
North Beach v Wanneroo, Charles Riley Reserve, 10.40am
Express Bins E1-Grade
Ocean Ridge v North Beach, Heathridge Park, 2.30pm