Cats purring ahead of 2024

Matt Dick has returned to the Cats

Harper Sercombe

After missing the Riddell District Football League finals for the first time in a decade Macedon is gearing up for a big 2024.

The Cats missed the top five by only percentage last season and with players returning to the club and youth spouting through, coach Al Meldrum said the club is in a good position in the lead up to round one.

“Prior to Christmas we set some foundations and did some education and really started to get a grasp of the capacity and capability of the squad we had,” he said.

“That gave us a bit of time to figure out what the best way forward to apply to our group was.

“It’s all creeping up and we’re pleased at how we’re tracking and we want to bridge the gap. We missed the finals from a senior point of view for the first time in 10 years last year and we were disappointed with that but we’re also pretty mindful that it’s a small margins competition.

“We missed on percentage, it was a bit of percentage… but it shows how tight the league is.

Then you bring in Kyneton from the Bendigo league and it makes it even tighter again, so it’s exciting.”

While the club has recruited some key players during the off-season including ex-AFL player Matt Dick returning to the club, Meldrum said placing a priority on its junior players is massive for a club like the Cats.

Joining Dick at the Cattery next year is Johno Bissell, Jayden Cott and Tom Indian.

The Cats under-19s won the grand final last year.

“Our priorities, being such a small town with a small population, is prioritising our local junior talent,” he said.

“We’re actually pretty fortunate at the moment with some strong juniors we have coming through, with a couple of under-17 teams grooming them for senior footy, a lot of them played in the under-19 premiership last year and I think 11 of them played senior footy throughout the year.

“Our strategy is priority one with that and then trying to get top end talent into the club. Being able to get Matt Dick back was huge, he’s probably one of the best players ever to come out of Macedon, so for him to take a year off was really noticeable, we really missed him, but now that he’s back is a goldmine for us.

“We feel like the external people we’ve brought in, coupled with the organic growth through the juniors, it’ll be interesting to see how the combinations grow, but the signs are pretty positive so far.”

Meldrum said he is looking forward to embracing the one positive about not playing September, using it as motivation.

“If there’s ever a silver lining about missing the finals… is that particularly for the senior guys is that it burns in the gut and it drives standards throughout the preseason which you can then double down on in season,” he said.

“Finals have got to be the goal, community footy is so competitive now across all leagues, that you’ve got to stay competitive, you’ve got to stay relevant otherwise it becomes a real battle for survival.”