A new era has dawned at Northerners Cricket Club.
The Jets this week announced the signing of the club’s first coach in an attempt to increase professionalism and arrest a slide down the Haisman Shield ladder, which had them go from playing off in three consecutive grand finals to finishing ninth last season.
Cricket Shepparton stalwart Steve Allen will coach the club and was excited for the year ahead.
‘‘I’m fairly honoured to have the opportunity,’’ he said.
‘‘I was impressed by their commitment and determination to improve themselves and I just hope I can be a part of them achieving their goals.
‘‘I’m looking forward to my association with them, so it’s an honour, but hopefully I can give them what they want.’’
Allen played cricket with Old Students for more than a decade before spending almost twice that amount of time at Karramomus, and hoped he could provide a missing piece to the Northerners’ puzzle.
‘‘I think they’ve always been known as a talented group and a group that loves their cricket, but I think maybe they are looking to just improve their preparation and the way they train and hopefully get the best out of themselves,’’ he said.
‘‘I think they are just always searching to improve themselves, so hopefully I can help them achieve that goal.’’
Jets vice-president Trent Sidebottom said Allen’s demeanour was what attracted the club to the veteran.
‘‘To get Stevie on board, his enthusiasm is unbelievable, so hopefully his enthusiasm and exuberance is going to leave us in good stead,’’ he said.
‘‘So hopefully we’ll get some good training in and what not and hopefully see some good results.’’
With a talented pool of juniors coming through the ranks, Sidebottom hoped Allen could prove a beacon for the young cricketers to look up to.
‘‘We’re probably wanting to go down the line of putting a bit more focus on professionalism,’’ Sidebottom said.
‘‘We’ve got a really good group of young juniors coming through, so we really want to show that we’re willing to go the next step and provide everything that we can for those kids into the future.
‘‘Also having a coach will benefit, I believe, what we’ve got now in probably turning, not so much last year, but the three years prior to that into a premiership.’’
Sidebottom also spoke about trying to increase the stability of the Jets’ A-grade team after a raft of senior players took a break from the sport last season.
‘‘Last year was probably as bad a year of cricket as I’ve had, not in regards to results, but the club was in a bit of a downer as a whole, so we really want to turn it around and get back to where we were,’’ he said.
‘‘We probably had six out of our A-grade side from the year before and looking at it I think we turned over about 23 players last year.
‘‘When you look at the grand final sides, we had 13 or 14, so it’s just about finding a lot more stability.’’
As well as trying to draw old players back into the fold, Allen will set his sights on luring some fresh faces to Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve.
‘‘I think we’ll endeavour to contact some of the older players who have been around in recent times and see if we can get them back to the club,’’ he said.
‘‘But we’ll certainly ask the question of a few other locals and see if we can get a strong team together moving forward, that would be the focus.’’
With other clubs in the competition shaping up to be as strong as ever, Allen knows the task of making the Jets soar again will not be a walk in the park.
‘‘I just think the competition is healthy, obviously the clubs are trying to improve and professionalise themselves, so I think that’s only a good thing,’’ he said.
‘‘The more professionalism and the more effort into coaching and that sort of thing that goes on, it can only be better for the clubs themselves and the association itself.
‘‘I’ve been associated with some quality teams in the past and let’s hope we can get somewhere near that.’’