Coburg’s future hasn’t been guaranteed by the VFL and its demise would open the door for the AFL Tigers to field its own VFL side in 2013.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick has made no secret of the fact that he would like the Tigers to field a stand-alone VFL side.
Despite playing in an AFL premiership with Port Adelaide, whose players are spread amongst the nine SANFL clubs, Hardwick envisages that young players will adapt to and develop greater knowledge of Richmond’s game plan if they play as the Richmond Tigers as opposed to the Coburg Tigers.
Twelve months ago the Carlton Football Club declared via Northern Bullants General Manager Garry O’Sullivan, that it would form a development team called the Northern Blues.
Several senior Bullants players moved on and the Northern Blues further signalled their intention as a development squad by hand picking former Calder Cannons mentor Robert Hyde to coach the side.
Hyde came with an impressive TAC record and was considered a ‘guru’ at developing young talent.
The Northern Blues season launch at Preston City Oval back in February was impressive, yet just five months later the Blues are on the bottom of VFL ladder and Robert Hyde last week sensationally parted ways with the fledgling outfit.
Hyde was considered to be struggling with the Blues game-plan, in particular the ‘press’ that has become a feature of modern football. Ironically Brett Ratten the man who approached Hyde to take the job is on the brink of losing his as the AFL and VFL Blues have grossly underachieved in 2012.
VFL football in the Northern Suburbs isn’t in a good place and if Coburg is allowed to pass gently into the night then what becomes of second tier football in the North-North west region.
At Under 18 level these regions are represented by the Northern Knights and Calder Cannons, with traditionally Knights players tied to the Bullants and Cannons players to Coburg.
With the Bullants becoming the Blues, the Knights players are severely disadvantaged by being linked to a team that solely exists to meet the needs of the Carlton Football Club and its supporters.
The Blues put little resources towards its VFL reserves team and its VFL list not playing at senior level have been forced to endure some shocking sides in recent seasons.
Sure players can seek a transfer to another VFL club but aligned clubs are restricted in how many players they can take from outside their region. Coburg’s demise would create a similar situation for players from the Calder Cannons.
Back in 2008, current AFL Victoria General Manager Grant Williams in his then role as ‘Project Manager for the second tier review stated “that VFL and TAC Cup clubs should be integrated to form one regionally based talent development entity” and “that the aim of the second-tier review was simple- to collectively achieve the best outcome for football within each region, and the best outcome for football in Victoria”.
Stand-alone VFL teams, aligned teams and partially aligned teams provide a genuine pathway from the TAC Cup to the VFL, where as AFL stand-alone teams meet their needs first and everything else comes a distant second.
The VFL will benefit from a Richmond stand-alone side if Curtin Raisers are played at Punt Road and if the Tigers are Richmond and not some insincere outfit called the Craigieburn Tigers that claims Coburg’s history as its own.
A stand-alone VFL side in the Northern Suburbs is a must if AFL Victoria is to achieve the best outcome for football within the North-North West TAC Cup regions.
Coburg may have to become Craigieburn; it will hurt a little but with adequate recognition of Coburg’s history, Craigieburn could provide opportunities to many young people in the Northern Suburbs, that’s something that the Northern Blues will never be able to do.
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