A Matter Of Pride

‘The loss we had to have’

We’ve all heard that expression from time to time in football circles, and while it’s easy to brush it off as yet another tired footy expression (full credit to the boys), in the case of Ganmain and senior coach Sam Martyn, it may just be true.

“Mangoplah just were so well drilled and structured,” Martyn said.

Ganmain’s goalless first term against the Goannas three weeks ago was a definitive wakeup call for a Lions team with finals aspirations.

While Martyn’s team had racked up comfortable, percentage boosting wins earlier in the season, their failure to claim a top five scalp was something the first year coach acknowledged was quickly becoming a talking point.

“I remember playing for the Canberra Demons in the NEAFL and we won eight in a row and many of them were against weaker teams and when we did lose that eighth game we didn’t win another one for another four or five weeks,” he said.

“It can have an adverse effect if you don’t quickly bounce back from a disappointing game like we had against Mangoplah.”

To say the Lions bounced back was an understatement.

A 62-point win against reigning premiers Wagga Tigers was just the tonic for a team searching for validation, not just to the entire competition, but themselves as well.

“It was about getting that confidence to say ‘yeah, we are a good football side’

We have played really well against lesser opponents but to have that win against a team that also has top three, top four credentials was really positive.”

The Lions ascension from potential ‘flat track bully’ back to genuine premiership contender continued last week in a dominant display against Griffith at Exies Oval.

A five-goal opening quarter was enough to put the Swans away early, and give Martyn the confidence that the club’s transition is well on the way to bearing fruit.

“I think we’ll be able to step up to the plate when it matters,” he said.

Our gameplan has evolved. Ganmain has always been a club known for its attack on the footy and winning the ball at the contest but this year we’ve really done a good job of bringing that more appealing and attacking brand of footy and everyone has really bought in.”

Among those flourishing in the new style of play is Tom Anderson, who continues to show why he’s among the best young midfielders in the competition.

“Tom has flourished and it’s great to see.

He’s put the work in and he’s getting that reward for effort not only from us but from people around the league. He’s probably getting more attention from opponents this year and that’s probably a sign of the respect to where he’s taken his game.”

While the Lions are a team on the improve, it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion for Martyn.

In the first of a two-year coaching deal, the former Adelaide Crow is growing ever confident early doubts will be ultimately unfounded.

“To be completely honest, following the trial games and training numbers I was kind of thrown off a bit.

Jason (Hamblin) reassured me and said ‘don’t worry mate, they’ll come’ and that positivity put my mind at ease and next thing you know we have a club full of people pulling through and enjoying their footy and hopefully within the next few years we’ll have some silverware to show for it”