You might call them the Baby Bombers. Because Marrar’s hopes of winning a hat-trick of Farrer League flags are going to rest on young shoulders this year.
Despite a significant list of departures since they sealed consecutive premierships in September, coach Shane Lenon is excited heading into his third season at the club.
“We’ve obviously lost a few – there’s three or four retiring and a couple have decided to move on – but the exciting thing with this year is the young blokes,” Lenon said.
“We won the 17s, we blooded eight under 17s last year and we got some footy into those young blokes.
“They’ll be champing at the bit and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the table.
“It’ll be the youngest side Marrar’s ever fielded, I reckon.”
The experience of Brad Turner, Brad Langtry and Clint Taylor (all honoured with selection in the club’s team of the century last year) will be lost to retirement while Jeremy Rowe is coaching at Mangoplah.
Best-and-fairest Jesse Margosis is heading back to Lockhart, with Alex Smith joining him. Enigmatic forward Jason Reid returns to Temora, while Curtis Allen and Fred Sleeth are also losses from the side that beat North Wagga on grand final day.
Marrar’s recruitment campaign has been quiet, bringing in key position player Nick Cooper from Thurgoona. Lenon said they’ve missed a couple of potential signings but are still talking to ‘one or two’.
But, at a club which won all three football grades last year and hopes to have more promising juniors coming out of their partnership with junior club Wagga Swans, the coach is comfortable.
The names of players he’s keen to see progress roll off the tongue, including Adam Whyte, Drew Beavan, Zac Lewis, Rhys and Nathanael Mooney, Toby Lawler, Archie Howard, Sam Emery, Blake Walker and Harry Reynolds.
Lenon points out John Hoey is a virtual ‘in’ after shining early last year but missing much of the latter stages, including the grand final, with injury. And there is a solid core of players with grand final experience.
“That’s the beauty of a new season. You’re excited. You’re never going to have exactly the same list but every club – every president and every coach knows – everyone starts from scratch and there’s hope and excitement,” Lenon said.
“I’m confident with the young blokes we’ve got that we’ll be around the mark somewhere.
“In saying that, we have lost some quality. With what we’ve got going out and the fact we’ve only recruited one player, I’m not a bookmaker but if I was I certainly wouldn’t have Marrar as favourite.”
Lenon knows that nothing can be taken for granted in football. And if anyone thinks success breeds success without associated hard work, he has a reminder for that too.
“I’m not concerned about the fact we’ve won two flags. But as a club, a lot of effort went into that centenary year,” he said.
“We can’t afford to drop the ball and rest on our laurels. We’ve got to attack the season from scratch.
“The centenary was great. It couldn’t have panned out any better and was reward for a lot of hard work by a lot of people.
“But as a coach and a committee and a club, it’s done and dusted. It’s in the past. We’re not going to sit back and take it easy. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to attack it full on. It’s a new challenge with a new group and I can’t wait to get into it.”
Marrar’s pre-season will get underway in a fortnight.
With a bye in round one, the Bombers will get underway in round two, unfurling the flag at Langtry Oval on April 13 before kicking off another premiership defence against their rivals of 2018, North Wagga.