Melville United Prepared For 2018
It has felt like an eternity since Michael Mayne and Sam Wilkinson’s Melville United last graced the field in a NRFL fixture. Last season’s efforts saw the team comfortably dispatch the majority of the league competition with relative ease, but missed out on promotion by a single point at seasons end. On reflection, Michael Mayne believes that while the team was definitely good enough to gain promotion, there were times where they missed important opportunities. “I think it was a fairly easy season for us to sum up in the end. We felt like we controlled big games but the margins for error were very fine and at times our inexperience showed in key moments of those games”.
For Mayne and Wilkinson, the key to the upcoming season was to retain those that fit their playing style, a style that was very pleasing to the eye at times, and find those locally that can help with their 2018 bid. Wilkinson says that the young first team players will be better off for the experience of missing out on promotion – “The young players were hurting at the end of last season but they will be tougher and better prepared because of that experience. They come into this season with more big game experience to draw upon then they did last time around”.
Both coaches have always maintained since their inception at Melville United, that using local talent is a driving factor. “Once the realisation that promotion was off the table we were straight into planning mode for this season. We had a good idea of what we think we needed and we have worked hard to speak to the players we know can fulfil those roles” Mayne says. Wilkinson believes that there is plenty of talent in the region and knows the opportunities for players at Melville United are unique. “We know we offer the best football programme in the region and no one outworks us on or off the pitch, and with that we know that we will be successful in the near future, we 100% believe that. We are wanting to produce world class players and everything we do at this club is to do that”.
With what was an extremely competitive NRFL league in 2017 there are stirrings that 2018 may in fact be even more competitive. Wilkinson doesn’t believe the league will have a repeat of last seasons points tally where 4 teams finished above 50 points for the season. “We believe the points will be more evenly spread out this season, some big teams have come into the division and it will make for a very competitive league” while also adding that Melville’s hopes for promotion lie solely in the way they plan to train.
Recently the duo announced a full time training programme, building on the 3 nights a week training schedule they adopted last season. They will now offer two extra morning sessions aimed predominately at the U23 bracket. Wilkinson states “The changes to the training programme will hopefully help the players reach and maintain higher standards in performance – this will only benefit the team on a match day.”
With preseason now days away for the Melville team, they’re now setting their sights on releasing their new squad and getting preparations moving quickly. “We are looking forward to getting the new players involved and up to speed. Having the advantage of working with the majority of the squad last year we feel pretty relaxed going into the first session. It won’t be completely new, we’re ahead of the game already” with Mayne also adding “Competition is going to be there from day one and with games against Central and Glenfield early in the schedule we feel like we are going to be prepared come the first game of the year.
Melville United’s first league game of the season is at Gower Park on the 24th March against Oratia United.