Heidelberg West coach Michael Missen says his club is determined to shake its underachiever tag during the 2021 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 campaign.
Missen was appointed as the Hawks’ senior coach at the conclusion of the 2019 season after leading the reserves to the premiership – the club’s first football flag since 1966.
Due to COVID-19 cancelling the 2020 season, Missen is yet to coach an official game but with the new campaign just around the corner, he could not be happier.
“There is a lot of excitement around at the moment, especially after the COVID period. We really just want to get back out and play,” Missen told NFNL.org.au.
Missen believes the club handled the COVID shutdown period well, managing to maintain the close bonds within the playing ranks.
“The whole group did a good job of staying in contact. They are a pretty close group of blokes because they are all around the same age,” Missen said.
“We did a few different in person things when we could but it was mostly online via Zoom and social media.”
Missen now hopes the unity formed during a challenging 2020 can translate into on-field success.
“We have put a lot of time into making sure we can play as a team this off-season,” he said.
“It’s been quite a while since we were playing finals, so we’re super desperate to do that.
“We haven’t put a ceiling on what we can achieve. We’re just shooting for the moon at this stage, going as high as we can.”
In a major boost for the club, all its 2020 signings are returning for the 2021 season.
Notably, former Panton Hill premiership winner Lloyd Toffolon, Watsonia forward Allan Young, East Malvern goal kicker Alex Hywood and Reservoir best and fairest Sam McDowell have shown their faith in the club moving forward.
The Hawks have also added Jake Chiminello from Macleod.
The former Division 1 reserves competition best and fairest winner has been training as a key back this off-season.
Three-time league best and fairest winner Jarryd Coulson will again don the brown and gold, but Missen’s team-first philosophy will hopefully see his load lightened this season.
“We don’t want to rely on a couple of our main players to get us out of jail every week this year,” he said.
“Our ambition is to take Jarryd’s workload down a little bit and maybe play him in different areas around the ground.”
Missen’s confidence for 2021 is also buoyed by the shape in which his group returned to training.
“The boys came back to pre-season in really good condition,” he said.
“During the COVID break, 90 percent of our list trained during that period on their own, so we have come back in a really good state.”
Billy Wright, Brad Moore and Alex Purtell have been the major standout on the training track to date.
Heidelberg West will play one final practice match against EDFL outfit Northern Saints this Friday night.
The Hawks also start their 2021 home and away campaign under lights, when they host Old Eltham Collegians at Heidelberg Park on Friday April 9.