Tigers roaring into season 2024

Woori Yallock is prepared for the return of the Outer East season. Picture: ON FILE

By Callum Ludwig

The Woori Yallock Football Netball Club are gearing up for the 2024 season, looking to remain amongst the top echelon of teams in the Outer East Premier Division.

The Tigers senior football side finished third at the end of the 2023 home and away season and were knocked out of the competition in the preliminary final by eventual premiers and local rivals Wandin.

Senior Football Coach Brendan Donovan is returning to the club this year after time away and said there’s been a different feel around the club over preseason.

“I think we have worked on some of the other sides of the club for most of the pre-season, which is nice and gives a really good vibe and family feel with a lot of these kids running around, partners training for men’s and women’s and also with the netball, it’s been really good to see some good numbers over there as well,” he said.

“It’s probably just been a bit of a different feel at Woori than in the last couple of years, just in terms of much more female participation but from a senior men’s point of view, it’s also been really exciting,”

“The boys are really excited, we’re getting really good numbers with our under-18s and ‘Ressies’ boys and then the senior boys are also just doing what they need to do to make sure they are good to go for the season.”

The Reserves football side finished on the bottom of the ladder in 2023, while the return of the U19s team culminated in a 6th-place finish last season. The club will welcome back a raft of senior netball sides this season after not being able to get teams together last year, as well as a senior women’s football team.

Donovan said he’ll only be putting his own little tweaks on the senior side this year.

“I was lucky enough to watch the last couple of games of last year, and Jack the previous coach is a really good coach, so there’s not a lot of shift in what we’re going to be doing,” he said.

“We’re certainly looking at a bit more team defence, a little bit more assertive defence with that, and probably just trying to let the boys play a little bit with the attacking would be the best way to describe it.”

The senior football side has a favourable blend of up-and-coming youth and established senior figures, complemented by some exciting incomings.

Donovan said it is still a really good list in terms of the top-end of talent, but the focus over preseason was to bulk up the middle of the list and improve the club’s depth.

“I think this year will be a year of attrition with only two byes instead of the four or five we’ve had over the last few years but we feel we have over 30 guys who can play senior footy here,” he said.

“(Of the new signings) I think Taylor Gibson and Liam O’dea were probably the two standouts of our pre-season games so far, both Woori juniors that have come back, which has been great, and they’ve embraced the change and they’re playing really good footy,”

“I think the two young boys down back, Bailey Syswerda and Oscar Simpson will probably be the two that will step out of the shadows from under Robbie Allan and Luke Boontjes, they’ve learned so much from those guys so they will probably make the step up, as well as Jacob Aitchison, down back.”

The Tigers travel to face Premier Division newcomers Officer in their Round One clash on Saturday 13 April.

Donovan said their opponents look to have recruited well for the season ahead.

“They’ve got a couple of boys with VFL experience, have a second-year coach and are coming up to a higher division, so you certainly feel as though they will be around the benchmark for the entire comp,” he said.

“To get them Round One, we will certainly go down there with the expectation that we’re going to play the best Officer that they’ve got, so we’ll have to pick our best side and do the best we can, it would be nice to bank a couple of early wins but I think it will be a very competitive league this year.”