While exiting the finals series after a solitary win wasn’t the dream finish they’d hoped for, their big finals victory against Surfers Paradise when the chips were down will give them a lot of confidence to take into the new season. A good first month of footy in 2016 had the Vultures looking promising, though a mid-season breakdown cost them a double chance. They’ll be looking to push further into the finals next time, if they make it back.
Former PBC Lion Sam Stubbs will slot into the forward line alongside Jayden Crawley and Jim Markham. Rhys Estall could be the benefactor of this new support in the forward line, now able to play as a medium forward instead of being the only target when the Vultures head inside 50. Mick Hamill and Joe Murphy will shoulder the main leadership responsibilities, though Frazer Neate also returns to the club, bringing with him valued experience, physical presence and endurance. Cameron Ross has had a standout pre-season so watch him closely come round one.
After a fruitful off-season new coach Troy ‘Monkey’ Moncur, arrives at the Vultures with some bigger, taller bodies and a fresh game plan.
“We just want to move the footy a little bit differently to what we did last year. Probably a bit quicker and possibly a bit longer,” said Moncur.
Moncur has a lot of experience as a player coach, but this will be his first year in the coach’s chair not wearing football boots, which brings a few challenges.
“I was hoping still to have a kick this year, but not to be, I’m getting to old for that. So I’ll try and put all my energy into the coaching and see if I can’t have an effect in that regard,” said the Vultures coach.
“I’m enjoying it, it’s been good feedback so far, I’ve got a good team around me, good coaches around me, so we’re looking to give it a real red hot crack.”
During the pre-season there has been much talk about culture at Mt Gravatt and the first few rounds will be the indication as to whether it has been put into action.
“We want sides to know that they’ve played us. We want to be a strong, determined, committed team, that have a real go and we want to be able to walk off the field at five, and feel we’ve given it everything,” said Moncur.
Mt Gravatt Mountain has seen plenty of action over the Vultures pre-season and the players have clocked up quite a few kilometers.
“It’s a bit of a tradition around here, so, I think it’s four k up, four k down so it’ll be a heavy night on the track,” said Vultures co-captain Joe Murphy.
The Mt Gravatt skipper spoke about the progress the playing group has made and the feeling around the club in the lead up to round one.
“The improvement across the whole group has been really good to see, especially, probably more so the younger group. We’ve got a lot of 18 year olds and 19 year olds, who are fresh to the senior group and they’ve all stepped into their pre-season training really well,” said the skipper.
“It’s been a long pre-season, like it has for every other club, but when the games start rolling around, you start putting the boots on, versing teams in different colours it’s always . . . everyone get’s a bit more excited you know.”
When the ball is bounced in the first Vultures game it will be the first time in a while that Murphy will play in the QAFL free from thoughts about his knee.
“It was a big weight on my shoulders,” said Murphy.
“To roll in to round one this year just thinking about trying to get a kick, as opposed to the health of my knee, it’s a lot less stressful I can tell you that.”
For most, Mt Gravatt is somewhat of an unknown entity in terms of 2017 prospects. The Vultures exceeded a few expectations last year and may do so again, a lot will depend on Monkey’s new look forward line. If they can move the ball quick and get it in long, they’ll be dangerous. Questions remain about how the Vultures are going to handle the very top teams of the competition.