Last year’s Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 grand final defeat has done nothing but spur Laurimar to make amends in 2023 according to senior men’s coach Jimmy Atkins.
2022 saw the Power produce their best campaign since joining the competition in 2017, finishing in second position and booking the first spot in the grand final in an impressive second semi-final victory over South Morang.
However, when the two sides faced off again a fortnight later, despite a strong start to the match, Laurimar couldn’t repeat their efforts against a classy Lions side and fell just short of a maiden premiership.
Atkins believes his side are as determined as ever to move past the disappointment of last year’s decider and eclipse their feats of 2022 to claim that elusive premiership.
“It’s something we talk about a hell of a lot,” he said.
“It was pretty devastating to lose that Grand Final last year, but we’re using that loss as motivation to get back to that spot and go one better this year.”
Their grand final run was sourced off the back of some impressive senior players, including 2022 recruit and Team of the Year defender Nathan Andrews and co-captains Mitch Thompson and Luke Wilson.
Although a big catalyst to their consistent form last year was through their younger players, many of them making an impact in their first and second years of senior football.
One of those names is Kaiden Arthur who produced an outstanding year, kicking 23 goals in 20 games while being named in his side’s best on eight occasions. His work was rewarded with a Division 3 men’s Team of the Year selection. Another is Bailey Macleod who kicked seven goals in 13 games for the senior side as well as 10 matches for the club’s under-17’s team in the same season.
18-year-old Joel Lawson also produced a scintillating first season in senior football with Laurimar, kicking 32 goals in 18 games in 2022, including at least a major in all but one match during that period.
But one player that stood out on the big stage last year was ruck Ethan Bateman. The 20-year-old tall was arguably the Power’s best player on grand final day with his competitive work in the ruck and around the ground having an influence on the match.
While Atkins has been impressed with the development of the likes of Arthur, Macleod and Lawson, he is just as excited to see Bateman elevate himself as a key player in the senior side in 2023.
“Ethan, he’s been great this offseason. He was the most influential on the ground on Grand Final day. He’s been really great for us, I think that he’s ready to try a couple of new roles for us,” he said.
“He’s still relatively new to senior footy with only 20 games under his belt, but no doubt he’s ready to take the next step this season.”
With such a young side, the Power look to have a settled squad heading into the new season, however they will be without one of their most influential players in 2022 club best and fairest Jake Richards, after the three-time Division 3 men’s Team of the Year defender moved across to Division 1 side Hurstbridge.
The club have also been quiet on the transfer front, but Atkins hasn’t been troubled about the lack of recruitment following a strong season from the club’s men’s sides in 2022.
“Lots of our teams made finals, our under-19s team made finals, our reserves team made finals so that tells me that we have the blokes there,” he said.
“The only thing we probably need is some Division One talent, and we’ve now got that in Aidan Clarke.”
Clarke joins the club after 83 senior games with Hurstbridge between 2016 and 2022, with 76 of those matches coming in the top flight.
Laurimar will certainly be touted as a premiership favourite in 2023 on the back of their fairly dominant campaign last year.
But Atkins believes that the competition is as even as ever, adding that the makeup of the top four might not be determined until late in the regular season.
“I think it’s really exciting. So many sides now can make that top four, now adding Kinglake who have been very good in their competition,” he said.
“Heidelberg West looks like they have recruited very well. As well as the Fitzroy Stars who are coming down and there’s no doubt that they will be pretty hard to beat.”
One match up that is sure to turn heads this season is the Power’s two games against Old Eltham Collegians following their entertaining battles in 2022.
Both sides faced each other twice last year and produced two nail-biting results. In Round 4, Old Eltham Collegians turned a 14-point three quarter time deficit into a three-point triumph, keeping Laurimar scoreless in the final term. Meanwhile in Round 12, scores were level at three quarter time before the Turtles held a one-point lead approaching the dying stages. As the Power went forward with just seconds remaining, a shot-saving tackle Old Eltham’s Matthew Keys secured victory for his side.
Atkins acknowledged the Turtles as one of their toughest challengers for the premiership this year, but is confident that regardless of the opposition, his men will be producing their best football week in and week out in 2023.
“Old Eltham Collegians, they are a great side. They beat us twice last year so they will be a tough team to beat again this year. But at the end of the day you have to play the four quarters against any of these clubs,” he said.
“You can’t think that you’re going to walk in and beat any team convincingly. We know that. We work hard every week, and you will very rarely see us on an off week so if you beat us, you have played very well”.
Laurimar open their campaign against fellow 2022 top four side Kilmore at Laurimar Reserve.