Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong coach Christin Macri paid tribute to outgoing Leeton-Whitton coach Jade Hodge after the Crows’ premiership defence came to a close on Sunday.
Hodge’s three-year tenure as Leeton-Whitton coach finished with Sunday’s three-point first semi-final loss to the Lions.
Hodge led the Crows as they ended a 39-year premiership drought last season and Macri said the Tasmanian deserved to be congratulated.
“They were outstanding today, they really put it to us,” Macri said.
“Hodgey is an excellent coach, clearly, I’d like to congratulate him on what he’s done with the club.
“To go so close a couple of years ago and to have that character to regroup and win a tight one last year and break a 39-year premiership drought with all that pressure, and the grand finals they lost leading into that as well, that’s a lot of pressure for a coach to carry, a playing coach as well.
“He’s a good fella and he’s done a great job there. I want to congratulate him on what he’s done with the footy club and wish him all the best. I know he’s hanging around but credit to him, we knew it was going to be a tough game. They were brilliant and we got ourselves out of it.”
Hodge was disappointed to bow out of the premiership race but proud of his young group for their efforts.
“I’m disappointed we lost but still really proud,” Hodge said.
“As I said to the boys after the game, no one really gave us a chance at the start of the year, they doubted us because we lost too many and we never got enough recruits to replace what we lost. But we invested in youth and the young guys like Bailey Wood and Kyle Pete that have played huge roles for us at 16 years of age, and the list goes on, it’s been fantastic.
“Yes, I’m disappointed because I know the promise within the group. It would be exciting if we could keep this group together for another 12 months but I think we’re going to lose a few to uni and things like that.”
Hodge said poor decisions at crucial times cost his team on Sunday.
“I’m really proud of their efforts and for sides to throw it at us, more experienced sides, and for the boys to respond, especially like last week, and even today, was really good,” he said.
“We really matched it with them, probably our youth and inexperience hurt us a little bit with our decision making and we probably panicked a little bit at times but that’s all part and parcel of being a young side. I’ll wear that.”
Hodge has maintained the utmost belief in his group all season but even he conceded on Sunday afternoon that he had been taken aback with how much improvement the Crows had shown in 2018.
“I’ll be honest, the boys have really surprised me, although all year I seen glimpses and really believed we were good enough, at the start of the year I thought to push finals would be a fantastic achievement and if we got through today, I really thought we were a massive chance,” he said.
“But hey, that’s footy isn’t it. You get losses, you get wins and I’ve loved every minute of my coaching here.
“The club has been huge for me personally, even since I came here 10 of so years ago. I was always going to come back because of the people around this club and how good they were to me.”
Hodge paid tribute to the man he replaced in the top job, David Meline. He said he reaped the rewards of his work with the young kids in the year’s leading up to his return.
Hodge also thanked Jamie Broadbent, Matt Sharman and Andrew Sidebottom for their help during his three years in charge.
Hodge will remain at Leeton-Whitton as a player, with good mate Daniel Muir to take the coaching reins in 2019.