Nomads on the home straight

By Patrick May (Armidale Express, 08/09/2006)
The New England Nomads are one step from premiership glory.

Tomorrow at 2 o’clock the AFL side will walk on to their home ground – in front of their vocal and vociferously loyal fans – ready to contest the club’s third home grand final in four years.

And the 2006 team is determined to make their contribution to the Nomads’ trophy room.

It has been an up and down season for the Nomads, who after last year’s disappointing season, started strongly.

However, the side had a bad run over the university holidays, but worked their way back to the finals.

They beat tomorrow’s grand final opponents, the Tamworth Swans, after the siren in the preliminary semi courtesy of nine goal hero Weston Whitby.

It was one of several last-gasp victories for the Nomads, whose single-minded pursuit of victory in every game has sprung from their obvious team spirit and tireless work at the contest.

For player-coach Adrian Walsh, the evolution from last year’s premiership challenges has been a fun experience.

“The side is not too different to the one we had last year, they’ve played as a team all year and I’m really happy with that,” Walsh said.

“The biggest thing they’ve done is build camaraderie.

“I think we shocked teams like the Swans, who have some quality footballers, but we’re much more of a team.

“It’s the age old thing of champion team and team of champions, and the guys have worked together and worked hard together.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who have come into their football,” Walsh said.

“For many this is only their second year of playing Australian Rules, with the obvious example being Tom Hunt.

“There’s a number of guys who’ve come from other sports, and during the year they’ve blossomed in terms of their skill level and the tactical side of the game.”

Walsh knows that all the hard work and success so far may seem bitter sweet if the Nomads are unable to convert their potential into a premiership this weekend.

He has been focussed on a strategy to defeat the Swans, who beat the Inverell Saints by more than 100 points in their elimination final last weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of plans, a lot of strategies, we’ve obviously looked pretty hard at the way the Swans play and we looked at them last week,” Walsh said.

“What we need to do is play our run on football. We weren’t able to do that in the middle of the season as we had a lot of people away, but the main thing we’re looking for is using the younger legs to run over them.

“Our team’s much fitter and quicker, if we kick to contests, our overhead skills may not be the best.

“Our kicking is also possibly better than the Swans and so is our delivery, so that’s one of the things we’ve been working on and is really important.”

Walsh also believes that the occasion will not overwhelm his young guns, while the older heads in the side will play harder to regain the glory of past years.

“There’s six of us who were in the grand final sides of 2004 and 2003,” he said.

“Those six have carried through, and the Swans were in the grand final last year, and they have the experience of losing that one.

“They were far and away the best side of the year and lost it in the last quarter after leading by 27 points, so that will be a big thing for them.

“But it will be a real experience of the guys, there will be a lot of people here at home.”

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