Life of a footballer: Red hot pressure

Brett Henderson, coach of the Bendigo Pioneers speaks to his players during the 2015 TAC Cup. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)
Brett Henderson, coach of the Bendigo Pioneers speaks to his players during the 2015 TAC Cup. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)

Life of a footballer: by Jamieson Sheahan

Life of a footballer is a personal insight by Bendigo Pioneers football operations manager and midfielder Jamieson Sheahan. Jamieson has kindly allowed us to have a unique piece that looks at the inside workings of a TAC Cup club so everyone can get an understanding of what these young men do to become the best Australian Rules footballers they can. For the rest of the season, Jamieson will provide updates on how not only his season, but his teammates season and the club’s season is going, and what the club is doing behind closed doors in the lead-up to matches.

It has been a big two weeks since part one of the life of a footballer series for the Bendigo Pioneers boys.

In Round 12 the team hit the road and travelled to Swan Hill on Sunday July 3 for our ‘home game away from home’ against the Calder Cannons. It was a chance for a handful of our players to play a game in their local area. As our region is so big, many of our players come from the Swan Hill region so for them to get to play a TAC Cup game in their region was a great moment in their TAC Cup year.

A great crowd turned out to watch us at the Tyntynder Football Oval and although we had the youngest team in TAC Cup history with 16 of our starting 23 players being bottom age players (17 years or under) we played a great game and only just lost to the Cannons by 19 points.

We were down by 44 points midway through the third quarter and the message from Brett Henderson at three quarter time was to take the game on, be risky and that is what we did. We brought the margin back to within three goals late in the game and had some chances in the last quarter to make it even closer but unfortunately we could not take them.

It was a great effort to hold on to a very strong Calder Cannons outfit but bitterly disappointing to come so close to winning in front of a fantastic local crowd. Young local talent Paddy Dow was best afield in front of his home town in a strong ball winning display from the bottom age gun.

The message throughout that next week leading into our clash with the Geelong Falcons at Queen Elizabeth Oval (QEO) on Sunday July 10 was to continue our second half form from the Calder Cannons and take the pressure to the Falcons in what was predicted to be a wet and tough day for footy.

The group prepared well during the week for the Falcons with Tuesday’s training being a lighter night as a result of playing on the Sunday and then Thursday night focusing on ways to match up against the Falcons and how to beat them.

We did this by training some structures we wanted to implement during the game and also by watching video footage of the way they like to setup/play their game. The boys knew what we had to do to beat the Falcons and we took a strong mentality into the game.

Sunday arrived and the boys were at QEO ready to go against the top-of-the-table Geelong Falcons. The main message from coach Brett Henderson before the game was to ‘front up’ for the challenge before us and bring a strong intensity to the game by putting the pressure on the opposition and being harder in the contest for longer. The conditions were difficult with rain and strong winds so simplicity of our game was also asked of us.

The boys started well and we were in the contest at half-time only being down by nine points. The message again at half-time was simplicity, to play the percentages in the conditions and gain yardage with the ball.

The boys came out in the second half with great pressure on the Falcons and kicked a string of goals to hold a five-point lead in the third quarter. Unfortunately a few lapses and some poor decision making let us down in the final term as the Falcons kicked away and got on top late in the game. It was our structures that fell down which allowed the Falcons back in the game.

The boys were disappointed with the result in what was a winnable situation for the team but it was not for lack of effort: The team laid a record 162 tackles for the day with Isaac Miller and Josh Formosa laying 18 tackles each (1 shy of the AFL record).

It was a team effort though with seven players laying more than 10 tackles for the day. It was a really pleasing feature of the day that we were able to continue to bring that pressure for four quarters and try and shut down Geelong’s time and space.

The development weekend is this weekend and the boys will return to their local clubs for a game before coming back next Tuesday in preparation for the game against the Oakleigh Chargers at Warrawee Park in which the team will look to bring that same tackle pressure that was seen against the Falcons.

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