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Chewin' the Fat – Kris Miller column May 16

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 2:07 AM
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I THINK continuity is a big thing when you are trying to build a team and trying to keep the team together, and minimise your losses in terms of personnel. You want to just add players to an existing group rather than adding players to make up for guys who have left your club.

That's probably one of the most important things.

It's so important to keep players around and giving them reasons to stick around. Blokes can so easily go and play and get a lot more money than they can at WAFL level without having to train in the country and without any really pressures of outside influences or anything like that. That's always an easy option for blokes to leave so you have to give them a reason to stick around and put in the hard work that is required to hopefully reap the benefits in the end.
The big thing about keeping them around is making the whole environment to be somewhere where blokes feel like if they leave or aren’t there that they are going to miss out on something. That's definitely important. What we offer as a footy club is the ability to play at a higher level of football with good facilities and good coaches, but we've also got to offer a place that blokes want to be part of the footy club.
The club has started doing things like steak nights and all these things make people want to be part of the club and they are just as important to the culture of the playing group as any of the on-field stuff. It just creates a team environment where blokes are socialising as well as playing footy together. That is definitely a good thing.
We have good young players at the club at the moment, but ever since I started WAFL football there has always been a good batch of kids coming through at whatever club. The ability to keep those guys is the hardest and most important part. These guys are all right today and have a lot of potential, but tomorrow can walk away for some reason. The challenge is to keep those blokes particularly through the hard times at the moment when we are losing. We have to keep it enjoyable as well as still striving for improvement all the time.
I certainly don't want to finish my career in a side that is at the base of the ladder. It will be good to be part of the turnaround at the club undoubtedly, whether I can be or not is another thing. I suppose for me I probably am more motivated right now to play well even in the down times than some of the  younger guys because I know I don’t have long left. The young guys might think they will just get through this and then next year or the year after they will get it right.
I don’t necessarily have next year so my motivational levels are probably higher than most of the blokes just because they know that if they want it, they have next year or the year after or the year after to be part of a successful side, and I don’t necessarily have that. I've got different reasons to be motivated at this stage of my career and I would hate to finish playing on the bottom of the ladder.
I've been part of some pretty bad teams in my career for a couple of years there at East Fremantle and then obviously successful sides at South Fremantle especially in 2009 when we won the premiership.
The main difference that sticks out is the enjoyment factor. In all the bad sides nobody is enjoying it and it just becomes a chore where no one is happy, everyone is looking for reasons that the side is playing bad and blaming everyone else. People blame the players, people blame the coaches, the board and everyone gets lumped in with it. There's always someone who is at fault for the team not performing and that's never enjoyable. Really it's a collective and there's never one person in particular who is the problem. There just isn’t any enjoyment in a bad side and no one wants to be there.
The difference between those bad teams and a winning side is that when you are playing well everyone is enjoying themselves. Everyone loves coming to training and in 2009 we played really hard on the field but we also played hard off the field together as well, without being silly. We really enjoyed each other's company and socially we were always around each other so everyone knew each other really well and even the reserves won the premiership that year so our depth was so strong and we were one, big group.
Blokes just wanted to be around the club and that was the big difference to what it was like in my last few years at East Fremantle. We just had a lot of blokes who left the club that were still in the prime of their footy. Fortunately that hasn’t happened at Souths. We have lost a few blokes, but they were pretty much finishing their football careers. There is a fair difference between the struggling sides I was part of at East Fremantle and the one now here at South Fremantle at the moment.
At South Fremantle now, we still have the chance to pull ourselves out of it. If it carries on for two or three more years, then you probably have to say it would be similar but at the moment there is a big difference with what I'm part of now and the struggling sides I was part of at East Fremantle.
Even against Claremont in Round 1, I didn’t go into the game thinking we couldn’t win. Every game this year I have legitimately felt that we can win and I will go in this week against Peel thinking we can win as well. That's probably in some ways the frustrating part of our season at the moment. We aren’t that bad but we obviously aren’t also that good where we can get over the line. Claremont seems to get over the line in games even if they don’t play their best, but we can't. That's the difference between a pretty good side and a good side. There's a lot of pretty good sides and I would say we are a good team. It's just that polish we are lacking at the moment.
Even last year we were in front we were in front during the last quarter in six of our first seven losses so it is our challenge to learn from it. We are around about the mark, but not quite good enough with the polish needed to finish it off right now.
While that's frustrating, I also don’t think that our 0-7 record is a reflection of what sort of a side we are. We aren’t unlucky to lose, we have lost but I think we are a reasonably good 0-7 side. I've seen sides that might be 2-5 or 3-4 in my career and we would be a lot better than them.
By Kris MilleI THINK continuity is a big thing when you are trying to build a team and trying to keep the team together, and minimise your losses in terms of personnel. You want to just add players to an existing group rather than adding players to make up for guys who have left your club. That's probably one of the most important things.

It's so important to keep players around and giving them reasons to stick around. Blokes can so easily go and play and get a lot more money than they can at WAFL level without having to train in the country and without any really pressures of outside influences or anything like that. That's always an easy option for blokes to leave so you have to give them a reason to stick around and put in the hard work that is required to hopefully reap the benefits in the end.

The big thing about keeping them around is making the whole environment to be somewhere where blokes feel like if they leave or aren’t there that they are going to miss out on something. That's definitely important. What we offer as a footy club is the ability to play at a higher level of football with good facilities and good coaches, but we've also got to offer a place that blokes want to be part of the footy club.

The club has started doing things like steak nights and all these things make people want to be part of the club and they are just as important to the culture of the playing group as any of the on-field stuff. It just creates a team environment where blokes are socialising as well as playing footy together. That is definitely a good thing.

We have good young players at the club at the moment, but ever since I started WAFL football there has always been a good batch of kids coming through at whatever club. The ability to keep those guys is the hardest and most important part. These guys are all right today and have a lot of potential, but tomorrow can walk away for some reason. The challenge is to keep those blokes particularly through the hard times at the moment when we are losing. We have to keep it enjoyable as well as still striving for improvement all the time.

I certainly don't want to finish my career in a side that is at the base of the ladder. It will be good to be part of the turnaround at the club undoubtedly, whether I can be or not is another thing. I suppose for me I probably am more motivated right now to play well even in the down times than some of the  younger guys because I know I don’t have long left. The young guys might think they will just get through this and then next year or the year after they will get it right.

I don’t necessarily have next year so my motivational levels are probably higher than most of the blokes just because they know that if they want it, they have next year or the year after or the year after to be part of a successful side, and I don’t necessarily have that. I've got different reasons to be motivated at this stage of my career and I would hate to finish playing on the bottom of the ladder.

I've been part of some pretty bad teams in my career for a couple of years there at East Fremantle and then obviously successful sides at South Fremantle especially in 2009 when we won the premiership.

The main difference that sticks out is the enjoyment factor. In all the bad sides nobody is enjoying it and it just becomes a chore where no one is happy, everyone is looking for reasons that the side is playing bad and blaming everyone else. People blame the players, people blame the coaches, the board and everyone gets lumped in with it. There's always someone who is at fault for the team not performing and that's never enjoyable. Really it's a collective and there's never one person in particular who is the problem. There just isn’t any enjoyment in a bad side and no one wants to be there.

The difference between those bad teams and a winning side is that when you are playing well everyone is enjoying themselves. Everyone loves coming to training and in 2009 we played really hard on the field but we also played hard off the field together as well, without being silly. We really enjoyed each other's company and socially we were always around each other so everyone knew each other really well and even the reserves won the premiership that year so our depth was so strong and we were one, big group.

Blokes just wanted to be around the club and that was the big difference to what it was like in my last few years at East Fremantle. We just had a lot of blokes who left the club that were still in the prime of their footy. Fortunately that hasn’t happened at Souths. We have lost a few blokes, but they were pretty much finishing their football careers. There is a fair difference between the struggling sides I was part of at East Fremantle and the one now here at South Fremantle at the moment.

At South Fremantle now, we still have the chance to pull ourselves out of it. If it carries on for two or three more years, then you probably have to say it would be similar but at the moment there is a big difference with what I'm part of now and the struggling sides I was part of at East Fremantle.

Even against Claremont in Round 1, I didn’t go into the game thinking we couldn’t win. Every game this year I have legitimately felt that we can win and I will go in this week against Peel thinking we can win as well. That's probably in some ways the frustrating part of our season at the moment. We aren’t that bad but we obviously aren’t also that good where we can get over the line. Claremont seems to get over the line in games even if they don’t play their best, but we can't. That's the difference between a pretty good side and a good side. There's a lot of pretty good sides and I would say we are a good team. It's just that polish we are lacking at the moment.

Even last year we were in front we were in front during the last quarter in six of our first seven losses so it is our challenge to learn from it. We are around about the mark, but not quite good enough with the polish needed to finish it off right now.

While that's frustrating, I also don’t think that our 0-7 record is a reflection of what sort of a side we are. We aren’t unlucky to lose, we have lost but I think we are a reasonably good 0-7 side. I've seen sides that might be 2-5 or 3-4 in my career and we would be a lot better than them.

By Kris Miller