The WRFL’s most successful club is on the board in 2021. Coach Anthony Eames addresses the Woodsmen’s much talked about form, with an ex-AFL player standing tall.
by Luke D’Anello, May 11, 2021 – 11:55AM, Leader
Spotswood had endured its worst start to a WRFL season since 1940.
The most successful club in Western Region Football League history with 15 senior premierships, the last coming in 2011, the Woodsmen were in an unfamiliar position at 0-4 after an opening month of fixtures against flag contenders.
But Spotswood kick-started its WRFL Division 1 campaign with a morale-boosting 40-point victory over Sunshine on Saturday, 9.18 (72) to 5.2 (32).
After defeats to Hoppers Crossing (31 points), Deer Park (11 points), Altona (58 points) and Werribee Districts (56 points), it was an understatement to say the win was much-needed.
The Woodsmen also created more unwanted history when they were held goalless for the first time since 1947 in its loss to the Vikings.
“It’s been a battle … for everyone at the club, including myself and the players,” Spotswood coach Anthony Eames said.
“But we’ve just got to stick at it and keep working our way through it.
“We’ve been competitive in a couple of those losses in patches, but we certainly got touched up by Werribee and Altona … they’re two very, very good outfits.
“But what doesn’t break us, builds us and makes us stronger. The boys are keen and up and about – that’s all we can ask for.”
Spotswood led by 44 points at three-quarter-time before conceding three goals to two in the final stanza.
Eames said the Kangaroos posed a stiff challenge for his team and were “as physical as any side we’ve played”.
Former Carlton player Nick Graham, Brydan Hodgson and Josh Norton starred in the midfield for the winners, while ruckman Ben Deller also impressed.
Brandon Walshe booted three goals and Spencer Davis two.
“Our ball movement improved and I thought we played a solid three quarters and probably just rolled off a bit in that last quarter, which was disappointing,” Eames said.
“But we got away with a win and we’re going to have to lift it a notch I would have thought for this week against Caroline Springs.”
Eames heaped praise on marquee recruit Graham, who has been named the Woodsmen’s best player in their past three fixtures.
“He works really hard on game day and during the week. He sets the right example and is a terrific fella, so he’s fitted into the club beautifully,” he said.
“Over the course of the first couple of weeks he was a bit quiet, but he’s got himself going the last two or three weeks. He’s playing some pretty good footy.”
Eames said his side had been hampered by below-par execution in the opening rounds, describing its ball movement as “pretty ordinary”.
“We were very robotic I thought against both Hoppers and Altona and Deer Park got us for spirit – they just played with a lot more spirit than us on the day and showed us up,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work on (ball movement) the past month. It hasn’t been where we’ve wanted it. Hopefully it’s heading towards the four-quarter performance we need to see.”
Spotswood is without skipper David Iaccarino, who copped “a knock” against Deer Park in Round 2.
Eames said the star midfielder was “three or four” weeks away from a return as the Woodsmen look to resuscitate their season.
But the club is in a good position off the ground, according to Eames, with former champions Murray Boyd and Tom Langlands giving the senior squad a boost by attending training sessions in recent weeks.
“The club’s got a long, long list of past players who help out and want to be involved,” he said.
“All my assistant coaches are former premiership players at the club, so it’s a good place to be.
“Everything’s going well off field – we’ve just to get it right on field.”
But while rival coaches expect Spotswood to rebound in coming weeks, Eames said there was “no easy game anymore”.
Clashes with Caroline Springs (fourth), Yarraville-Seddon (seventh), St Albans (sixth) and Point Cook (ninth) await before the halfway mark.
“The evidence for me was on the weekend,” Eames said.
“Both sides were 0-4, but it was a hard, tough game. The tackling was strong, there were a lot of big hits and the physical presence around the stoppages was definitely there.”