For a club re-entering the premier football competition after a long absence, Wauchope Soccer Club is managing its 2017 season pretty well.
Currently sitting just three points shy of a top five berth, and at the halfway point in the season, the side continues to find its feet.
Coach Terry Burn says the first grade experience gained by his players will stand them in good stead during the latter part of the 2017 season.
He’s not giving up on an eventual spot in the semi finals series. The players, he says, are now matching the opposition sides for speed and fitness. They continue to build self-belief, he said.
“I’m pretty happy with where we are but obviously would like to be higher up the ladder,” Burn said.
“Pleasingly, we have had opportunities to win more games than we have. That’s a good thing.
“The boys have taken a lot of confidence out of this experience. We’re not in a bad place and there is plenty of confidence within the team.”
Now doubt more confidence than the club’s last stint in the top flight where they failed to a win game in their last three seasons in Premier League.
Considering some players are this season playing three grades above last year, their results have been promising.
Burn says he’s noticed improvements in a number of players, particularly after some difficult games.
“We’ve been competitive in almost every game. We can now press teams right up to around the 80th minute mark which is ensuring we are staying competitive.
“And we are learning too. We are weeding out those silly mistakes that prove costly at this level – like the 3-1 loss to Wallis Lake where Wauchope actually scored all four goals – and coming back to training where the players are breaking down the game and the errors themselves.
“That’s really about getting to be a better player.”
The boys have taken a lot of confidence out of this experience. We’re not in a bad place and there is plenty of confidence within the team.
With a strong contingent of Wauchope-bred players in their ranks, Burn said youngsters Jak Dobbyns, Logan Palmer and Kade Fens have been standouts.
And at the other end of the scale 35-year-old Josh Everingham is arguably playing his best football.
With half the season already under their belt, Burn says a top five spot is still within reach.
“It is certainly there (a top five spot). The players themselves are telling me they believe that they belong at this level,” he said.
As the players continue to gain confidence, Burn can already see a bright future in 2018.
“There’s a few former Wauchope players at other clubs who will be looking at our success this season. If we can prove ourselves, which we are doing, then we have a better chance of getting these players to return to us next year,” he said.
The club’s reserve grade players have also settled into the higher grade with some confidence and currently sit on nine competition points – just one point out of the top five.
And that on-field success is also being matched off the field, according to the club’s president Michael Clarke.
“There is certainly an increase in activity and interest being generated by our involvement in the Premier League,” Clarke said.
“Playing in the highest league certainly adds value to Wauchope Soccer Club’s profile in and around our community and continues to bring more curiosity in what our club is doing.
“As well, our current players, committee members, sponsors and supporters are finding that being back in Premier League is providing a better sense of worthiness to everyone associated with the club.
“Now it’s up to us to finish the season well in this first season back. This will build a solid base for our future as a club and community entity.”
With a growing sense of confidence, it appears that the Wauchope club is eyeing a long-term future in the top flight of competition.