Tuesday, 19th July, 2011
If a week is a long time in football, then the last ten months must feel like an eternity for the Central faithful.
The Magpies have endured a horror run since hoisting the premiership cup in September last year.
Their all-conquering playing group lost key personnel in Ben Perkins, Harrison Cumming, Jay Carapellotti, Brendan Cullen and Jamie Keenan over the summer, and further injuries to stars such as Wade Gepp (knee), Jackson McInnes (foot) and Sean Power have compounded the problem.
Even the club’s home ground has been out of action, with flooding and broken facilities rendering the ground useless for much of the season.
The Magpies have battled valiantly despite the numerous setbacks, however Saturday’s game appeared to mark the low point in the club’s 2011 campaign.
The Magpies received a 95-point drubbing at the hands of the Bulldogs, and managed only three goals for the match.
By the end of the game only 17 players were fit to take the field, with Matt Sowden (calf/achilles), Justin Heath (ankle), Jake Gepp (ribs), and Josh Batson (cork) amongst the players who succumbed to injury.
They will now join Matt Collins (cork), Jamie Berg (thigh), Mick Anderson (knee), Lindon Cox (knee), and Trampas Garnaut (hamstring) on the sidelines.
The hobbled Magpies sit at the foot of the ladder, a game and a half adrift of a rejuvenated West outfit.
It’s a stunning fall from grace for the Magpies which has left coach Jarrod Hinton wondering what he did to anger the football Gods.
“I really don’t know what I’ve done, but if I don’t laugh I’ll cry,” he said.
“But I suppose you have to remember we had a dream run with injuries last year, and all our shift work sort of fell where we needed it to.”
Hinton was loathe to use injuries as an excuse for his team’s performance, but there comes a time when all the coaching moves in the world simply cannot cover such a significant loss from the playing list.
“We probably only had four or five A-Grade players out there on Saturday, and the rest was pretty much the reserves team. Some of those blokes played B-Grade on the Friday night and I had to pull them out for a game again on Saturday.
“All the players gave one hundred per cent, but when you’ve got seven, eight or nine out of your top ten players out of the side, it does take a big hole out of you.
“And then you’ve got blokes like Brad Mannion working shift work - it hurts.” he said.
Hinton thanked his players for their “magnificent” effort through trying times, and also welcomed support from the Central board.
“The board knows we’re just having a terrible run with injuries and they’ve been behind me one hundred per cent which is a good thing for me as coach.
“We’ll get there in the end, things can only get better from here.”