Greensborough coach Mick Harford believes his side is determined to atone in 2019 after last year suffering its earliest finish to a season since 2013.
The Boro were soundly beaten by Bundoora in the opening week of the finals – culminating in the club slipping one spot down the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 standings for the fourth-consecutive year.
The elimination final defeat was a premature end for the Boro, who sat as high as second on the ladder three weeks before the finals.
Harford says he has sensed a desire to improve burning within his side this pre-season as the group looks to rebound.
“Their focus is to go deeper into the finals series,” Harford told NFNL.org.au.
“The group’s extremely focused and they just want to win. It’s a great environment to be in.
“It’s such a great group of men and they’re just so driven.
“I always say that it’s the easiest coaching job I’ve ever been involved in. They almost coach themselves.”
Harford this year takes the senior coaching reins from club legend Robert Hyde, after serving as both senior assistant and caretaker coach over the past two seasons.
He has overseen a fruitful recruiting drive over the summer, headlined by the signing of former Carlton and Brisbane Lions midfielder Tom Bell.
Bell, who played 72 AFL games over the past seven seasons, has joined as a playing senior assistant in a major coup for the Boro, who won his signature from a host of other potential suitors.
Bell will be joined at War Memorial Park by Montmorency rover Ben Fennell, Epping goal kicker Damon Marcon and Riddell ruckman Liam Read.
🔔 🔔 🔔
We’re thrilled to announce former Carlton & Brisbane Lions player Tom Bell has joined the Boro on a two-year deal as a playing assistant coach.
— Greensborough FC (@GreensboroughFC) January 17, 2019
Harford said it had been important for Greensborough to bolster its list after running out of steam late in 2018.
“One of the things we looked at the end of last year was how do we improve?” Harford said.
“We had some requirements from our recruitment at the end of last season as to what we needed to improve.
“Having all those one-pointers being our juniors is fantastic, but we were continually being consistent in where we finished – second, third, fourth and fifth. We needed to add some top-end quality to help our junior talent coming through.
“The ability to have those points available was critical and if you’ve got 44 points to play with and you’re only using 30, maybe you need to look at that and we did.
“We are more than comfortable with what we have picked up.”
Greensborough will be further bolstered by the return of Charlie Molyneux, Dan McLinden, Jake McNamara and John Desmond after interrupted 2018 campaigns.
Molyneux, a former Adelaide SANFL squad member and Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association best and fairest winner, has been a standout on the track this summer.
“In the handful of games that he did play, his ability and his upside was seen,” Harford said.
“He’s gotten through a full pre-season and is winning our time trials, which is fantastic to see.
“With the match simulation stuff at training and through the pre-season he has been a standout.
“Jake McNamara coming off a knee reconstruction last year is effectively a new recruit, while John Desmond didn’t play at all last year and is a terrific player.
“Dan (McLinden) is a terrific player and he’s proven that over the years.
“Unfortunately, last year with our back half being so solid when he wasn’t playing, we were trying to work out a place for him. But what a luxury to have him coming back after a full pre-season.”
Greensborough may potentially be without young gun Tynan Smith, who was added to Essendon’s VFL squad following a standout debut season for the Boro in 2018.
Meanwhile, star midfielder and former skipper Tristan Stead will only be available in the early part of the season before moving abroad for work.
“One of the reasons we wanted to bump up our midfield stock a little bit was knowing that Ty and Steady might not be around,” Harford said.
“We’re really supportive of Tynan wanting to further his footy.
“I spoke to him a couple of times last year before he decided to go to Essendon. We are really happy that he’s been able to secure a spot on their list.
“Steady looks like he’ll be available for the first half of the year.”
Greensborough begins its 2019 campaign with a trip to Hurstbridge, before hosting newcomer Lower Plenty on Good Friday. Old rival Montmorency awaits in Round 3.
Despite avoiding 2018 Division 1 finalists in the opening three games, Harford was wary of looking too far ahead in what he expects to again be a very even competition.
“Yes, it would be great to get off to a winning start, but it’s a long race,” he said.
“Every game is going to be bloody hard.
“I think back to 2017 when we were 0-5 and we made the finals and won a final.
“We beat Heidelberg in Round 6 and were 1-5 and still bottom of the ladder and made the finals.
“The best thing for us was having that 2017 year. Now we don’t panic if we’re behind the ledger and we don’t get too excited if we’re ahead of it.
“We’re doing everything we can to be better. We’re confident we’ve done the work and we’ve got a good mix. So, we’re hoping things fall our way and in September we’re there.”