With the amount of senior experience they lost over the summer break, 2016 was always going to be challenging for Grange, but they would have hoped to pinch a few more wins along the way.
A terrible run of injuries, especially mid year, derailed their season and put them well out of the premiership hunt, but what it did allow them to do was blood some kids and expose them to senior footy.
Not the year they wanted, but not all doom and gloom.
Round 1, at home, knocking off the reining premiers in their first outing was no doubt the standout moment for the Gorillas, and one that had most of the QAFL world believing that they would be contenders again.
I’m not sure it wouldn’t be considered a highlight for them, but a highlight for everyone else was their two, yes two draws with Mt Gravatt. For two teams to play each other twice, and not be able to be separated is simply unheard of.
A 77-day drought without a win was ended in round 15, with Grange’s fourth (and final) win of the year. It was a long time between drinks, and one they won’t want to relive again.
Injuries to key personnel like Steve Brittain, Fletcher McIvor and Matt Trewhella throughout the season weren’t ideal either.
What they will take from 2016:
The kids, because they got a bloody good look at them. Most were good, some have a bit of work to do, but to get at least half a dozen senior games into some of their fringe players will be a real positive in the years to come.
No surprises Steve Brittain started the year like a house on fire. The 10 games that he did play were of the highest caliber. Fletcher McIvor was great when he was in the QAFL, and Lachie Nixon-Smith took his game to another level in 2016.
They definitely had a few. Lochie Gaw, Connor McFayden, Lachie McRae, the list goes one. One stood head and shoulders amongst the rest though, and that was Oskar Baker. He was electric on the wing this year. Quick, agile, and a good user, he is going places.
What they need for 2017:
They still need to fill that key forward void. They had youngsters like Christie and Molan go through there this year and play well, but they would love a big Gorilla (pardon the pun) coming out of the square. If they can land one, that would mean Trewhella could slot back into CHB.
They also need a few more senior leaders in the group. One, for their experience and ability to help the kids out, and two, to stand up when it gets a bit tight, or the game needs to be won.
By Andrew Wiles