The Farrer League have turned to four-time Gerald Clear Medallist Brad Aiken to coach their representative side next season.
The former Collingullie star, now at The Rock-Yerong Creek, said it was an honour to represent the league as a player (before the Demons’ switch to the Riverina League), and he’s privileged to take the reins as a non-playing coach.
“It’s an honour to get the opportunity to coach, to take control hopefully of how the league performs and to coach the quality players in the comp and the blokes that want to be a part of it,” Aiken said.
The Farrer League is hoping to finalise a game against the Hume League next year.
Whoever they play, restoring pride is the priority after last year’s 14-goal capitulation to the Riverina League.
A keen fan of the representative scene, Aiken says that wasn’t pretty to watch but he has full faith in the quality of the league.
He hopes players jump at the chance to change perceptions. And make a name for themselves.
“I still think ability-wise, the top six in teams in the Farrer League is as good as the Riverina,” he said. “I’d love to see some of these guys, if they get notified early enough, want to be a part of it, meet new blokes and play some high quality footy.
“I think you can build a reputation on whether you can actually play footy or not too. You’re coming up against blokes who are quality players and a lot of people come and watch. I think you get judged on that and you can really show that you can play.”
Aiken’s own representative record includes being named captain of a Southern NSW team (combining the best of the Riverina and Farrer Leagues) to play in Sydney under coach Russell Durnan.
He understands that managing injuries can be difficult for players while others have plans for a weekend off. But he hopes the benefits of playing rep football are enough to see it thrive.
“Look, I love representative footy, I’ve always been for it and wanted to be a part of it. It comes back to meeting guys you play against and getting to play with them, see what sort of fellas they are,” Aiken said.
“It’s always nice to play in the company of guys with good ability, sometimes better than yours.
“(But) at the end of the day, if they don’t want to play they won’t play. I particularly don’t want blokes to be there if they’re not interested. I’d prefer to give some of the young guys a go and see them test themselves against some of the better players in the Hume League or the Riverina League if the opportunity arises.”
Farrer League president David Oehm was thrilled to announce Aiken.
“His experience will be invaluable. He’s been such a great player for such a long time and he’s won four Clear Medals,” Oehm said, adding that he’s confident the Hume League game will go-ahead.
Oehm also paid tribute to Ryan Forsyth who had two years as assistant coach to Jason McPherson, before overseeing the 2017 win against Ovens and King League and this year’s loss to Riverina.
“I’d like to greatly thank and appreciate Ryan Forsyth and the work he’s done over the last four years. He’s done a magnificent job for the rep side,” Oehm said.