Last October, the Southern Football Netball League Board accepted a transfer request from the Port Melbourne Colts to move from the Western Region Football League.
A proud club with a rich history, Port had endured a lean few seasons in the WRFL's top division and were keen to move across to the Southern League to reestablish themselves in the Southern region and realign themselves with their South Metro JFL-affiliated juniors.
SFNL Media Officer Will Hunter caught up with Colts coach Brad Julier to discuss his expectations in the club's debut SFNL season.
WILL HUNTER: Welcome to the Southern Football Netball League, Brad. A bit of a change of scenery for you?
BRAD JULIER: Yeah, it is a bit different. Every week will be something new for us and it will be good. Something to look forward to.
As the only team in the Western Region Football League that was located on the eastern side of the Westgate there were many challenges that you would have faced. How difficult were those last three years for the club both on and off the field?
Yeah, it was a challenge. We were getting further and further away from the middle of the league, I suppose. Just getting harder and harder to compete sponsorship-wise, recruitment-wise and we were getting further and further away from our juniors as well. We’ve sort of lined all three up now and it’s easier to go forward.
What’s the feeling around the club since transferring from the WRFL?
There’s a lot of excitement. We’ve had a lot of old players come back that were on our side of the bridge I suppose. Sponsorship-wise, we’re generating a fair bit of interest so everyone is excited. Hopefully we can do well.
How has the move affected your recruiting for this season? Have you kept the majority of last year’s group together or managed to land a few new recruits?
We’ve only really lost one and he moved interstate, so no one has left because of the move. If anything, it’s positive. It’s been a lot easier to recruit. We’ve sort of got a new area we can recruit from.
What are your preconceptions of Southern League footy and how do you think it will differ from the Western Region?
I feel like the age group is probably just a touch older. The west is quite young. And smaller grounds I suppose, they’re all sort of suburban grounds similar to ours. Not like the big parks you get out in the west. Look, it’s still gonna be hard footy so we’re really looking forward to it. The sides are probably a touch more experienced, probably (it'll be) a bit more physical footy.
Who are the standout players that you think can make a big impact in the competition this year?
Brad Sutcliffe, reigning best and fairest winner, Justin Taylor, who we’ve got back, and Torren Bonnett are probably the three we hope will have the biggest impact.
Tell us a bit about your football background and how you came to lead the Port Melbourne Colts footy club.
I played at the Colts from 2006 to 2012 and then I left and I was an assistant coach at Box Hill Hawks (in) 2013-14 and then came back to the Colts last year.
You must have learned a bit during your tenure at the Box Hill Hawks?
Yeah I had two great coaches under Damien Carroll and Marco Bello so we won a premiership and lost one. To learn off them and the Hawthorn program was really beneficial. I’ve always had ambitions to coach and to leave and come back I supposed helped me and it’ll help the club long term.
Last year Keysborough made the switch over from the Casey Cardinia league and had some reasonable success in their first season in Division 2. That must give you some confidence for the year ahead?
Look, I suppose we still see ourselves as a Division 1 club, coming from the west in Division 1, so we are pretty keen to return there as quick as we can. Our recruiting has been based around hopefully having a real crack at it and with the view that we can really challenge, not only Division 2, but Division 1 in years to come.
What would you consider a pass mark for the Colts in 2016?
Finals would be a minimum for us.
Brad Julier (right) is welcomed to the SFNL by League CEO David Cannizzo.