Petterd key in driving young Lion cubs
At the end of the 2015 season, it saw the retirements of many players, just like every other season. And Ricky Petterd happened to be one of them.
At just 27 years of age, Ricky retired following an 84 game career with Melbourne and Richmond. After solid 2013 and 2014 seasons where he immersed himself as a permanent fixture in the Tigers line-up, Ricky hurt his foot early in 2015, and he would never play an AFL game again.
However, remaining in footy was no doubt a priority for him, and wanted to go down the path of coaching. Having already spent a season as an assistant with TAC Cup side Sandringham Dragons, Ricky’s experiences in 2013 as well as time within the elite environments of two AFL clubs made him a readymade candidate for an assistant coaching position at AFL level. For three seasons, Ricky had worked alongside General Manager Craig Lees at Melbourne.
“I had a little bit of a relationship with Leesy back in my Melbourne days, and he called me, offered me the role in terms of midfield stuff and I really liked it. I had a couple of other things on the go, but Coburg having played here before, and being pretty local it kind of jumped out at me a little bit, so I took it on,” Ricky recalls.
Lees, responsible for selling the opportunity to Ricky, said “In previous years we’ve had a lack of coaches with AFL experience straight out of the game. In our end of season review, we targeted Ricky as a potential coach that with his skillset could benefit our young group. In my relationship with Ricky from Melbourne, I helped set him up with his Level 2 coaching accreditation, so therefore I knew he had ambitions to coach once his career was finished. Ricky had done some coaching with the Sandy Dragons in a Development role and had done some recruiting when he was injured throughout 2015.”
And so far in 2016, despite Coburg only notching win number one for 2016 against Essendon last Sunday, his work with our young midfield group has been outstanding so far, with support from Development League Midfield Coach Adam Paterson, and Development League Head Coach Marcus Hastings, who is responsible for the senior sides stoppages.
While a considerable amount of midfield experience was lost for the 2016 season, in particular club stalwarts Daniel Venditti, Ben Clifton & Nick Carnell, his experiences within the AFL system have helped immensely with the current crop, most notably the likes of older heads Tom Goodwin, Ozgur Uysal, Lachie Johns, Nathan Thomas, and Robbie Fox, as well as youngsters Ben Allan, Ricky Schraven, Matthew Merlo, Liam Hunt and Dylan McDonald to name a few.
“It’s been good, been challenging but it’s also been rewarding at the same time, we’ve had a really good pre-season and the first few games where we didn’t get the reward we would’ve liked but to win on the weekend was good for us going forward.”
Despite the loss of experience and the influx of youth in the side, the work Ricky has put into the club’s midfielders has definitely not gone unnoticed. His impact on assisting the midfielders with what is required at VFL level have seen the Coburg midfield group become one of the elite stoppage sides in the competition.
“Ricky has terrific qualities which have impacted our group in a positive manner. He has the ability to relate with the players and educate them with the requirements needed to play at the elite level,” Lees said.
After six rounds of the 2016 Peter Jackson VFL season, despite the Lions only having one win to its name, statistically they’ve been taken to greener pastures. While the last two seasons have seen the Lions ranked amongst the bottom two sides in areas such as total disposals, hard ball gets, receives, and clearances so far this season it doesn’t look like it’s going to end up the same way. Currently Coburg in 2016 are ranked amongst the top sides in regards to those categories, especially the clearances and contested possessions, and are providing the forwards with more opportunities in attack than ever before.
On the performance so far in 2016 “We’ve got some really good kids in there who just love to compete and they’re really taken what I’m trying to give them on board and they’re just putting their head in the hole winning the contested ball really well and the clearance numbers are up. Tommy Goodwin, who is for me is having a really really good year and is leading by example, so him, Lachie Johns, Ozzie, Thommo and Foxy are the blokes in there doing a really good job.”
And as for his future, he is just taking it one year at a time. When asked about his aspirations in regards to coaching, his response was “Not too sure yet, I’ll see where this takes me, I’ll work out at the end of the year whether I’m any good or not or whether I enjoy it enough, but at this stage I really am (enjoying it), not sure about my aspirations but I just keep trying to improve as a coach as well,” Ricky said.
While a playing career finished all too soon you could perhaps say, another career is just beginning for Ricky as a coach. However, some at the Coburg Footy Club are hopeful that if his foot injury somewhat makes a miraculous recovery, then it would mean he would pull on the boots again, adding some needed experience to the Burgers line up.