By Sam Watson
THE Phillip Island Football Netball Club is locked and loaded for another run at a senior premiership in 2022.
Last week, they announced the re-appointment of Beau Vernon, who has been a revolutionary figure at the Bulldogs, coaching them to grand final wins in 2018 and 2019.
If the three recent premierships, one of those with Leongatha, weren’t enough, then three straight selections as the coach in the West Gippsland team of the year is surely enough to stamp Vernon as one of the best coaches in Gippsland football.
After the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, Phillip Island were looking in good shape in 2021 to win their third flag in a row, but once again restrictions meant there would be no premiers crowned.
The Bulldogs had lost just one game, which was by five points to Nar Nar Goon in round three.
They handled every other opponent pretty comfortably and were the red-hot favourites to lift the cup once again.
Vernon will be hoping he can help recreate that hunger next year and he should definitely have a side capable of leading the club to premiership glory.
He had five players selected in the team of the year, who should all be around again next year.
And that five doesn’t include two of his superstars Brendan Kimber and Hayden Bruce, who didn’t play enough games to qualify.
Vernon said he’s not only proud those who made the team of the year, he’s proud of all the players at the club.
“Everyone contributes a heap not only on the field but also off the field for our culture and for our young blokes to grow,” Vernon said.
“Those five are all very deserving (to make the team of the year), but I’d like to put every one of our players in there.”
“Everyone does their part for the club and we’re just in a very good position at the moment, where we’ve got such a good culture and everyone’s good people.
“In terms of the year, I’m so proud of them and I’m spewing they didn’t get a chance to play finals, especially after being in such a good position.
“We would’ve played a minimum of two finals and given ourselves a good chance to have a crack again.”
And he said the team of the year is a nice award for those included, it’s definitely not what anyone sets out to do.
“While it’s nice to get in those teams, we know what we’d rather be doing, that’s for sure.”
Vernon admitted it was nice to be named as coach, but it was really the messages he got from his players that made it special.
“I think the best part was some of the messages I got off a few of the boys, just saying how much they love me as coach.”
“And that’s far more important than being named in the actual side itself.”
President Chris Ross said the club will be hoping all their players come back hungrier than ever next season.
“We feel as though we’ve got unfinished business,” Ross said.
The club has also announced James Stirton will continue coaching the reserves side.