End of an Era
It isn’t the fairytale ending he would have liked, but Jacob Wooden’s tenure at Temora remains a story worth telling.
The Kangaroos coach ends his five-year run as coach this week, and while the last two years haven’t gone as planned (that’s an understatement), his impact around the club can’t be understated.
“He’s (Jacob) put in a lot of hard work, commitment, and has won a lot of games here,” President Peter Hartwig said.
“It hasn’t ended the way he’d probably like with the run of injuries we’ve had but he helped steer us through that and to get some wins on the board is great for him”
Unveiled at the tail end of 2016 to lead the club, Wooden was no stranger to Riverina football.
A former coach at Lockhart and player for Ganmain, his credentials were never questioned and his first year at the helm paid immediate dividends.
An opening round loss to Marrar turned into a five-game winning streak as the Roos established themselves as arguably the in-form team of the competition in 2017.
In his first year as coach, Wooden helped elevate the Roos from 7th to 2nd on the ladder, and they were the first team into the Grand Final after defeating the Bombers in the semi-final.
But that would be the closest he’d come to a premiership in his time at Nixon Park.
A blustery spring day at Robertson Oval made scoring difficult in the decider against Marrar, and with goals were hard to come by, it was a mere four behinds that separated the two in the Bombers drought breaking win.
The next two years were also without flags but not without success.
Wooden’s team would go a combined 22-10 in the home and away season and win at least one final in both years.
The last year has been his biggest challenge.
Returning from the year off as well as battling departures and injury woes, Wooden has managed to salvage a number of wins, including an all time upset that Hartwig will forever remember fondly.
“That win against the Jets was a really big morale booster,” Hartwig admitted.
“It was pretty close to the upset of the year and to be able to give the players and volunteers that experience in a tough year was pretty special”
Now the club has once last chance to send their coach of the past half decade out on a high, with a win against The Rock-Yerong Creek.
After that comes the uncertainty and excitement of the future at Nixon Park, one Hartwig says is already showing promise.
“Without giving too much away, we think we’re pretty close to landing a pretty good playing coach and a fella that lives and breathes footy,” he said.
While a premiership may have eluded Wooden in his time in the blue and white, and the Roos are still chasing that success they found in the early 2010’s, their coach has left an undeniable imprint on the club.
An imprint he’ll hope includes one final win, this Saturday.