By Matt Fotia
It was almost the perfect season for the Monbulk Hawks, with both their Netballers and Footballers pushing deep into September, but unfortunately for their faithful supporters they finished 2019 without a trophy to remember it by.
Here’s a quick look at the year that was for those in Maroon and Gold.
Position: 2nd (14-2) & Preliminary Final
For : 1390 (Ranked #2)
Against : 810 (#2)
Leading Goal Kicker : Shane Williams (35 Goals – includes finals)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : The whole operation was a success for the Hawks in 2019.
Their biggest signing heading into the year was the head coach, with ex West Coast Eagle and Collingwood Magpie Andrew Williams taking the reins.
Williams is knowledgeable on the game, coaching and on the clubs that Monbulk were to face for the first time in 2019, as well as some they’ll be hoping to face in the near future, having hailed from Beaconsfield.
Monbulk set up one of the best systems in the league, let alone Division One, with their ability to get everyone working in unison something to admire, particularly before injury struck throughout the middle of the year.
Whilst they ultimately fell short of the big dance, the Hawks have laid down a blue print they can follow for years to come.
What went wrong : Their wastefulness going forward.
It started almost as a running joke, as the Hawks vanquished all of their Division One opponents at the first time of asking, despite some more than woeful goal kicking.
It really came back to bite them in the Preliminary Final when after giving Pakenham a five goal head start the Hawks dominated possession for the remainder of the game, especially the second quarter. They managed just 1.4 in that period however and fell four goals short of a Grand Final berth and promotion to the Premier Division.
What they need: The Hawks need some genuine height.
They’ve got good structures, talented youngsters, hard nosed veterans, big bodied midfielders and skill to boot, but they’re stretched in the height department, impacting their key position depth, with Langworthy and Hevern their only real tall timber.
An extra tall frees up Langworthy especially to spend more time up forward, giving them another genuine goal kicking option and also frees up Ash Beck to play as a second or third tall, also improving his ability to threaten opposition sides.
Grade : A
The Hawks had a near perfect Home and Away season, and did their reputations no harm in September despite failing to get promotion. However another year in Division One might just be a blessing in disguise.
Position: 3rd (9-7) and Grand Finalists
For : 691 (#2)
Against : 575 (#3)
Leading Goal Scorer : Stephanie Puopolo (551 – includes finals)
Best and Fairest : Unknown
What went well : The Hawks were always ready to go when the big games came around. They finished third, a fair way behind ROC and Mount Evelyn, but were always a danger heading in September considering their record against the top five side.
They ended ROC’s unbeaten start to the season, pushed Mount Evelyn on every occasion – especially come September – shoved Warburton Millgrove aside in the Semi Final and cruised past ROC in the Preliminary Final.
What went wrong : The start to the year was a bit of a stinker for Monbulk, and although it didn’t matter too much in the end, early season wobbles can put a side too far back in the running more often that not. Luckily for the Hawks the eight team competition meant that wasn’t the case this time around.
Look for the Hawks to start like a house on fire come 2020.
What they need : They need another shooting option.
Stephanie Puopolo is a star, that’s common knowledge, and in 2019 she took the proverbial whenever she graced the court, shooting 551 goals (including finals) at 32.4 goals per game.
However if you take out Puopolo’s goals the Hawks managed just 285 goals in their 20 matches. Nicole Macdowell played out the final few games in Goal Attack, plugging the hole well, but is a much more natural fit in the mid court.
If they’re to go one step further in 2020 they’ll need to find another consistent goaler, whether it be a new recruit or a promotion from within the club.
Grade : A
Monbulk exceeded expectations in 2019 by making it to the Grand Final, particularly after the opening few rounds, and exceeded them even further by almost pinching the flag.
Combine this with the momentum building on the football side of things and Monbulk is an exciting place to be for the near future.