"For kids in my situation and even kids that are top age under-18s, it’s good to be able to get some experience at VFL level to really develop your game and improve on things that you don’t necessarily think about too much at TAC Cup level.”
19-year-old midfielder Ben Allan is one of many successes of the strong relationship between Coburg and the Calder Cannons.
“It’s also really good for Coburg as well because a lot of the Calder boys who get a taste of Coburg are more likely to come back to the club if they don’t get picked up in the AFL draft. I think the relationship works well both ways.” Allan said.
Allan, who studies construction at Melbourne University, began playing football at the age of seven with EDFL Premier Division club Pascoe Vale’s under-10s side. He played all of his junior football at the club until under-18s – when he was called up for Calder’s summer training. Things progressed well and Allan spent the pre-season with the TAC Cup powerhouse and was selected in the squad, playing four games in 2013 as a bottom age player and enjoyed more game time in 2014 – playing the majority of the season.
He remained at Calder this year as one of the five older players permitted on the club’s list this year and the idea of spending time at Coburg was suggested to him by Calder regional manager Ian Kyte.
“He thought it would be a good idea for me and Kova [19-year-old ruckman Mark Kovacevic, who was also featured for Coburg in 2015] to get a bit of VFL experience against bigger bodies for development and improve our game,” Allan explains.
“Obviously there’s a pretty good relationship between Coburg and Calder. Ian Kyte made contact with Craig Lees and they were both happy for me to trial at Coburg for a bit.”
Allan has played three games this season as Coburg’s 23rd man but the lightly-built midfielder admits it took time to adjust to playing against bigger opponents.
“Because it’s the first real senior footy I’ve played it took a couple of weeks to get used to it,” Allan says. “That’s why it was good to play in the practice games earlier in the year. I’m starting to get used to the bigger bodies now and you have to be a lot faster with your hands and your decision-making at this level.”
“Obviously I want to put on a bit more size so I do go to the gym. But I guess I’ve always been pretty good with my hands and pretty quick so I think that’s helped a lot against the bigger bodies.”
Allan is still learning about Coburg’s defensive running, structures and set ups around contests and is doing his best to ensure he’s always able to find a way to impact every game he plays. Peter German has stressed that Allan needs to simply focus on playing his role and the young Geelong supporter says that it has been a lot easier with the help of Coburg’s experienced midfield group.
“They’ve told me where to go, what position I need to be set up in and just helping me with the structure a lot. It’s good to have those older blokes that have been around in the system for a number of years that are able to help someone like me who’s new to the club.”
Even with just three senior games under his belt, Allan is growing with each game he competes in, and is another booming Cannon that is adding to the stocks at Piranha Park and proving that Coburg is the place to be for the graduates from Calder.