COBURG has described Frankston’s demise as a “wake-up call” but says it has a long-term vision, which will ensure it remains viable well into the future.
The debt-ridden Dolphins had their VFL licence for 2017 revoked late last month after the stand-alone club was forced into the hands of administrators.
Coburg general manager Craig Lees said the loss of Frankston was disappointing but the Lions were only getting stronger each year and were not going anywhere anytime soon.
“I guess it’s probably more a wake-up call for past players that love their footy club,” he said.
“If you don’t buy a membership or attend functions, you don’t know how long it’s going to be there for.
“You can only talk about how you govern your own footy club and we’ve got a really strong board and really strong sponsors so we’re really in a wonderful position.
“Our attendances have steadily climbed over the three years we’ve been stand-alone so as long as the team remains competitive and we keep producing draftees, we’ll be okay with the support of AFL Victoria.”
Lees said Coburg had established itself as a destination club since going stand-alone three years ago after Richmond broke away from the alignment to start its own VFL side.
“What we’ve done is just work within our means,” he said. “We haven’t been silly with player payments or any of that. We are here to provide that opportunity to TAC Cup players and we want to make sure we continue to build a really strong culture that develops young people.”
Coburg has had two major success stories since going alone, with Adam Saad drafted to Gold Coast Suns in 2014 and Michael Hartley finding his way to Essendon last year. There is interest in Lions Luke Ryan, Tom Goodwin and Robbie Fox heading into next month’s drafts.
VFL stand-alone clubs Coburg and Port Melbourne have proven they are finals' material after resolute victories on Saturday.
To the contrary of most football pundits who believed that AFL stand-alone clubs would dominate against teams made up of part-time footballers, the Lions and Borough knocked off Footscray and Essendon respectively – in another major step forward for the competition.
Coburg are in the mix to make their first finals series, since splitting with former AFL affiliate Richmond, while Port Melbourne are pushing for the top four. Of course, reigning premier Williamstown are in second position, again flexing their muscle under coach Andy Collins.
The Seagulls and Borough have both won VFL flags over the past six seasons as stand-alone VFL clubs. Coburg's rise – along with some competitive rigour and drive from Frankston and North Ballarat (albeit being on the bottom of the ladder) – has the competition in a healthy state.
Bulldogs VFL coach Ash Hansen believes playing against VFL stand-alone clubs assists with the development of their younger players.
Calder Cannons strengthen partnership with VFL side Coburg as TAC Cup graduates look to keep AFL dream alive
CALDER Cannons talent manager Ian Kyte would always toe the company line.
He would tell TAC Cup graduates who were not drafted by AFL clubs their best option was to head to VFL side Coburg, a traditional pathway club.
But deep down, he did not always believe what he was saying.
“Before I would be recommending that was a place that kids continue their career but I’m not sure I believed it myself,” Kyte said.
After splitting from its alignment with Richmond at the end of the 2012 season, some suggested Coburg would not survive a year as a stand-alone club.
How things have changed.
The Lions have thrived under the leadership of general manager Craig Lees and coach Peter German and building stronger bridges with the Cannons has been crucial to their success.
At least 22 of Coburg’s 60 listed players this year will be Calder graduates.
“If you look back to when Germo and I first got there at the start of 2014 there was maybe five Cannons on the list,” Lees said.
“No one wanted to go there. It wasn’t a pathway. So we’ve done really well.”
By the end of the 2014 season, Lees and German had a story to sell.
Have you heard the one about the Jew and the Muslim? At Coburg it's no joke. Already a club with a reputation for promoting multiculturalism, the Lions took things one step further last week when they signed forward Jake Lew from amateur club AJAX.
Lew is Jewish, and is set to line up next year in perhaps the most ethnically diverse forward line ever assembled. Lew's signature follows that of former St Kilda goalsneak Ahmed Saad, a Muslim, who returns to state ranks to play alongside mates Danny Younan and Ozgur Uysal. Younan was born in Australia to a Lebanese mother and Syrian father, while Uysal is a Turk. The Lions' forward line also includes Lech Featherstone, who as detailed last year in Pssst, was named after a Polish union leader of the 1980s.