From the Record: Narrandera
Eagles Look to Fly in 2017.
The Sky’s the Limit for Narrandera’s Flying Youngsters
Douglas Conner – 13th May 2017
Nothing says country footy like a young bloke who turns up to the ground to run his heart out for the under 15’s, fills in for the 17’s because their short (again), mans the canteen during the reserves game and finally collapses on the hill to watch the firsts play in the late afternoon. Many of the clubs in the Riverina league embody that famous country football spirit, but none more so than the Narrandera Eagles.
In a tough year for the club, with player losses and a shortage of numbers across the board, the Eagles have banded together to make things work.
According to club President Mark Savage, it is some of the club’s youngest members who have stepped up to be counted in 2017.
“With a lack of numbers in the 17s this year we heavily rely upon our 15’s boys to step up and fil that void.”
“We are very strong in that junior club, probably 30 kids for each age group, so it’s very exciting looking forward.”
“We’re getting 3 or 4 young blokes stepping up to the 17s every week, often with the boys playing multiple games for the club in a day. It’s a commitment but it’s great to see.”
And it’s not just the club that’s benefiting from these cross-grade performances, with the club’s junior players visibly improving from their big game exposure. “The young boys build that level of confidence and really develop in that 17’s comp. The game is a lot quicker, a lot more open and the ball moves a lot faster,” said Savage.
It’s not only in the 17s where the young guns of the club are making their presence known, with the first-grade squad benefiting from the addition of four u17’s players quickly making big names for themselves in the senior comp.
Isaac Williams, Cooper Irons, Dale Quilter and Tom Savage have all appeared in the Eagles opening three games, and have given the Narrandera Sportsground crowd every reason to be get excited for the remainder of the season, and the clubs future. According to Savage it is vital for the club to continue to promote the progression of the club’s young stars.
“Most of the teams in the Riverina league have two, three or four young blokes playing in that senior comp, it’s important to have that pathway. It’s hard, kids get to that age and drop off, it’s an aim of ours to provide a good avenue and a good social scene to keep these kids around. We want the boys to want to be here.”
Joining the Eagles young stars this season, is experienced Western Australian campaigner Reece Hutton. Hutton arrives at Narrandera from the Morawa Tigers in the WA North Midland competition, bringing quality and experience to the young midfield. His move to the club comes as a result of a longstanding friendship with current Eagle Paul Broad, who thrived in his first season for the club in 2016. Broad and Hutton are not the first Eagles to hail from Western Australia, with a strong connection existing between Narrandera and the Wildflower State over the years.
“A lot of people from the club have been over to WA over the years, for work and formed a good relationship. These young guys have come over to see where their dads have played and worked in the past. Paul Broad is in his second year, he had a great year last season, and Rhys Hutton has had a good start, going very well indeed,” said Savage.
While the club faced notable player losses during the off season, they also welcome some familiar faces back into their first-grade squad. When the Eagles won the Riverina Premiership in 2012, both captain Wes Kiley and ruckman Phil Aumann were pivotal members of the flag winning side and have been welcomed back with open arms to the Narrandera Sportsground in 2017.
Those stalwarts of the side are joined by exciting 19-year-old prospect Joe Grinter who has come on board from Farrer League club the Northern Jets. The move is proof that the Eagles internal recruitment process is in full swing, as the youngster joins the club while completing an apprenticeship with long time Eagle and builder, Jamie Grintell.
It is clear that Narrandera is a club built upon community, and tradition. In his first year as President of the senior club, Mark Savage cannot stress enough the importance of developing and cultivating the culture of the club, particularly for the clubs’ junior players.
“We are really focusing on keeping the club tight and together, the combination of the junior club and the senior setup is really key for us. Having those parents and families there in support. Providing the kids with a strong pathway from junior to senior footy, suddenly you have the kids watching the senior footy and getting a feel for what it’s like, watching people they aspire to be like and learning from theme.”
To get involved in this great country football club, get on down to the Narrandera Sportsground on the 10th of June as the Eagles raise money to combat Prostate Cancer, or join the football and netball club in celebrating the clubs Pink Day on the 15th of July.