20 DAYS TO GO | EFL Media will be previewing each club ahead of the 2019 season with the #InFocus2019 series, all thanks to Yarra Valley Water & Choose Tap.
By: Tash Gunawardana
THE 2019 season marks Morris D’Alessandro’s third year as Croydon coach and he is looking forward to his young team improving.
The Blues finished sixth on the ladder in Division 2 last season with nine wins and nine losses, missing out on the finals by two matches.
The club will again compete in the EFL’s second tier this year, Division 1.
Utility Alex Bull is a key in for the Blues this season, returning to the club after spending last season at Kilsyth in Division 4 where he won the Cougars’ senior best and fairest.
The 28-year-old has played all but one season at the Blues since 2013.
The Blues have also bolstered their stocks with a couple of former juniors returning to the club this off-season.
“Ben Cardamone was an ex-junior that was at Eastern Ranges last year and also Riley Costantino from Norwood who was also a Croydon junior, so it helps with our points as well,” senior coach Morris D’Alessandro said.
Cardamone played 21 games for the Eastern Ranges in the NAB League across 2017-2018, after representing the EFL at under-15 level in 2015, while Costantino played five senior matches for Norwood in the top-tier last season after representing the EFL at under-19 level in 2017.
The new recruits have fitted in well.
“The new recruits are boys that played in our junior program, so they went away and came back, have settled in really well (and) they’re really comfortable,” D’Alessandro said.
D’Alessandro says the club has had no significant outs during an impressive pre-season, with the exception of Luke Harrington who played 29 senior matches for the Blues across two seasons.
“Luke Harrington has moved interstate (to) South Australia, (but) apart from that, no real significant outs, we have pretty much retained our list,” he said.
“Pre-season has been very good, (the) boys are looking very fit.
“(I’ve) been really impressed about how they have been going about things.”
Croydon has not played finals since 2015, but the senior coach says their focus heading into 2019 is developing as a side.
“It’s just a development thing for our football club and we’re really happy in the direction we’re taking,” D’Alessandro said.
“We made some real inroads towards the end of last year, so we are just looking for more improvement out of our younger group.”
D’Alessandro has earmarked a number of players to watch out for this season.
“We’ve got Bailey Hotker who is clearly one to watch, Matt McKenzie who also had a few injuries last year so he had a interrupted year (and) a couple of boys who are in their second and third year at senior level, so Adrian Ficorilli, Kane Doueal, Riley Britton and Aden Thompson,” he said.
“They’re just to mention a few – there are quite a few that we are looking forward to making the next step.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 season, D’Alessandro is happy with taking it one week at a time with his young side.
“We’re really comfortable where we sit at the moment,” he said.
“I think there’s something we don’t really put a feeling on given that we’ve got such a young group.
“We’re just looking at probably each game that comes up and really looking forward to the challenge against Mooroolbark in the first round (and) that’s probably as far ahead we are probably looking at this stage.”
Croydon commences it 2019 season against Mooroolbark away on Saturday, April 6.