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Pies not done yet

Thursday, 28th July, 2011

STILL COOKING: Talented teenager Ben Camilleri believes reigning premiers Central are still a chance to make this year’s finals. STILL COOKING: Talented teenager Ben Camilleri believes reigning premiers Central are still a chance to make this year’s finals.

Central young gun Ben Camilleri says the Magpies are determined to salvage something from the 2011 season which has so far been ruined by a wretched run with injury and absenteeism.

The reigning champs will be celebrating their premiership sides of 1971, 1981 and 2001 at their Old Timers function this weekend and Camilleri believes the presence of some former greats will help the patched-up Magpies lift for Saturday’s clash against West.

“Everyone knows we have had a pretty lean trot in recent weeks, but we are still a chance to edge into the finals if we can win this weekend,” Camilleri said.

“Two of our three wins this season have come against West, and if we were to claim victories in our remaining two matches against the Robins then that might just be enough for us to claim a spot in the finals,” he added.

After earning the club’s Best and Fairest award in their premiership season last year, the recent heavy defeats suffered by the Magpies are unusual for Camilleri, who played his 50th match last weekend.

“I’ve had disappointments in the past, like breaking my ankle in my rookie season (2007) and missing most of that year,” Camilleri recalled.

“But after such a successful season in 2010 this year’s results have been a bitter pill to swallow and the team is determined to turn that around over the next five weeks.

“If we can do that then the finals are still a possibility - and that is what will keep us motivated,” he continued.

While North and South have been the form sides in 2011, Camilleri believes Central could still do some damage in the major round if they are close to full strength.

“We showed last month what we are capable of when we kicked 23 goals and thrashed West by 70-odd points,” Camilleri pointed out.

“We also produced a gutsy defensive effort to keep South to only eight goals when we beat them earlier this month and we probably should have got the points when we drew with the Roos in the opening round.

“So the indications are there that we could still have some say in shaping the pointy end of the season,” he continued.

A team-orientated player with great fitness and endurance, Camilleri’s versatility has been a much-needed component for the Magpies this season as they look to fill gaps created by injuries to key players.

The teenager also coaches Central’s Under-18 side who have won five of their 12 matches and are considered a knock-out chance to upset the more highly-fancied South and West in the race to the premiership.

“I really enjoy my role as coach,” Camilleri said.

“Even though I am not much older than some of the players they are all good listeners and they know that with luck on our side a premiership is not out of the question.”

Having been a scholarship holder at Collingwood, spent time in the junior ranks at Glenelg as well as representing BH, Camilleri has a good deal of experience to pass on despite his young age.

In fact, his knowledge of the game is exceptional when you consider he was a late-comer to football, having mostly played soccer up until he was 14.

Camilleri made his A Grade debut at 15 and was recently named in the best ever BH Under-18 team.

“Central has been a great club to be involved with,” Camilleri enthused.

“People like Dean Martin, Anthony Barker and Brett Morris have inspired me along the way, so it would be good to get a win this weekend to help kick-start the Old Timers celebrations.

“We are really looking forward to finally returning to our home ground (Memorial Oval) for a couple of matches next month and more success there could put us right back in the hunt to play finals.

“That would certainly ease some of the pain we have suffered throughout the year.”


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