Bulldogs with eye on the future

Josh Govan is starting to take the next step for Gisborne. Picture Shawn Smits


Gisborne has one eye on next year, with its finals hopes all but gone in this year’s Bendigo Football League.

While the Bulldogs are only one game outside the top five, they’ve played one more game than fifth-placed Kyneton.

And with only two home-and-away games left, including one this weekend against table-topping Strathfieldsaye, their hopes look slim.

The Bulldogs were well beaten at the weekend, 12.20 (92) -6.9 (45) against second-placed Sandhurst at Queen Elizabeth Oval.

Despite the margin of defeat, Bulldogs coach Rod Sharp said he felt his side was always in the game but just lacked the talent to match Sandhurst. “We never felt like we were out of it, but we were playing a top-two side and it showed,” Sharp said.

“With the ability of our team I couldn’t have asked for much more than they gave. [Sandhurst] had a little more talent.”

Sharp said while the results weren’t necessarily there, the development of some of the young guys was pleasing.

“They have improved all year and are getting better at taking their footy more seriously and being a little more competitive,” he said.

“Someone like Ollie Clough, and how he reacts when he makes a mistake, has changed.

“He kicked out from defence and they got a goal from it. He used to drop his head, but on Saturday he was our best player in the 20 minutes after that mistake. Josh and Hamish Govan are another couple who keep improving. They’re the future leaders of this club.”

Sharp concedes his side was in for a challenge against Strathfieldsaye in two weeks.

“They’re in a league of their own,” he said. “But it’s at home and will be a good learning experience for our boys.”

The Bulldogs missed out on the grand final by five points last season, and not playing finals is a state of affairs Sharp isn’t used to as a coach and player. “It’s frustrating and disappointing,” he said, adding that the club may need to look at the direction it was taking.

He was due to meet club officials on Sunday afternoon to discuss whether he would be coaching next season.

A decision is believed to be close.

“The young players need to have some players of the next level to help them develop,” Sharp said.

“We’ve been a club that hasn’t spent a lot of money on players. In my view, it’s really important to look at getting a couple of at least VFL standard.

“We need to make sure we get the balance right, get in the right people for the club and not ruin the culture.”