HBL Lions hunt back-to-back glory
The reigning premiers are once again on the hunt for another slice of the silverware
Despite strict COVID-19 protocols and not being able to share the same football, Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault players have been training individually to ensure they are ready to go if the season’s siren sounds.
Last year, the Lions took home the cup in a fine finish against the Eaton Boomers, which was a testament to the young team’s grit, hunger and fitness.
The same three things vice-captain Jonathon Sabourne said could drive them to victory again this year.
I believe we can go back-to-back.
“The team is still in fine form and will continue to be competitive this year if we are given the chance to play.”
Sabourne said the players were hungry for another premiership and believed many still held enough passion to go again.
The squad is made up of an extremely young playing list, with the average age sitting at just 23 years old.
“There are still a couple of real senior heads so that always helps to guide the young ones,” Sabourne said.
Premiership player Tom Heenan was one of the youngest Lions on the ground in last year’s grand final.
It still does not seem real.
“I remember when I was playing juniors, I would look up to the senior boys and now I get to play with them.”
Heenan said he knew how hard premierships were to win and wanted to win more than one while the players were still fit.
“The reserves side also won the premiership last year so there are a lot of healthy boys at the club at the moment.
We definitely feel like we can win another one.
Heenan believed spots would be hard to grab as the club juggled with mountains of young talent and only enough spots for a 22-man squad.
He said he was most excited to see young recruit Liam Sheppard rise through the ranks.
“He won the colts best and fairest last year so we are very keen to have him onboard,” Heenan said.
The young footballer recalled the momentous feeling of relief when he knew his team had won the grand final in 2019.
“We knew pretty early on, so it was nice to go out in that fourth quarter and just have a bit of fun,” Heenan said.
Last year the league team lost eight of its players and was considered “the underdogs” before the season started. Although one familiar face did predict HBL to come out on top.
I’m pretty sure Nola Marino predicted us to win.
“She would be pretty stoked about that call now I reckon.”
However, premiership player Matthew Fenwick said many others wrote the team off early on.
“We lost some talent and not a lot of people thought we would finish undefeated with a premiership to our name,” Fenwick said.
“Our fitness is what gave us an edge, we were a hard-running team.”
During the long football hiatus Fenwick said he ran 10km-12km a week in order to maintain his fitness.
“We are also a well disciplined and trained side,” he said.
Fenwick praised coach John Baggetta for helping the Lions get over the line last year.
“We got a lot of support from John and everyone played their part.”
Jordan Baggetta, John’s son, played in the premiership winning team, and said his dad certainly made him work for his position.
“He is pretty hard on me,” Baggetta said.
I put myself as just another player and I try and work as hard.
Team co-captain Jono Fenwick said Baggetta had earned his stripes and deserved his spot on the team.
He also believed the team would build on last year’s performance and could go back-to-back.
The men’s side is not the only team hungry for football. The women’s side, the lionesses, are also on the prowl.
Matthew Fenwick said he was proud of the women’s team and his fiance Sarah Joyce, who is the vice-captain of the women’s side.
He believed the women’s playing group was “very much part of the club”.
Their level of football is good and will obviously get better as time goes on, but the biggest joy in football is creating those friendships and bonds regardless of whether you are winning or losing,
The delayed season could start after May 31 if the Federal Government deems it as safe.
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