WEST PERTH Football Club comes into the 2020 season following a campaign that saw all three grades play finals football. Highlighted by a premiership in the Reserves, the Falcons will be looking to build on a strong year but will be pressed by a number of sides which have added to their squads over the pre-season. They’ll have to find replacements for a couple of key contributors with a fair bit of talent out the door.
Andrew Strijk leaves a significant hole as the club’s leading goal kicker in each of the past two seasons. Strijk’s ability to set up his teammates will also heavily impact the Falcons attack. At the other side of the ground, Jordan Mills will be a loss in defence after becoming a solid contributor. It isn’t all doom and gloom at Arena Joondalup, as the club will be buoyed by the inclusion of a couple of Victorian recruits. Fans will be wondering what Matthew Lloyd, brother of Sydney’s Jake, has in his locker but will not be surprised by the production of the returning Luke Meadows. Meadows was a key player for the club before plying his trade in the VFL last year. With the uncertainty gripping Victorian football, the midfielder chose to head home.
West Perth will once again heavily rely on its midfield brigade in 2020. Sandover Medallist Aaron Black and WA teammate Shane Nelson rarely have trouble finding the pill and the returning Meadows will further strengthen that part of the ground. Fairest and Best from 2019 Tyler Keitel should continue to improve, with the key forward showing great promise around the ground in a rucking role at times last season. He will need to carry the load up forward whilst continuing that development for the Falcons to have a good season. A 19-point win over Claremont on Saturday in preseason is a very positive sign for the club.
The Colts side found itself in a preliminary final last season and coach Geoff Valentine will be hoping a number of players can push for first team spots this year. Koopah Todd is last year’s fairest and best and even found himself in the victorious Reserves Grand Final side. Ruckman/tall forward Zak Patterson is another who is impressing at Joondalup and is seen as an exciting prospect for the future after a promising Colts campaign.
This year’s crop looks well-stocked to be highly competitive again and showed its credentials with a 43-point win over Claremont on Saturday. Heath Chapman had a very good bottom-aged campaign, regularly gathering more than 20 possessions and at 193cm is a good size for the modern game. Teammate Kellen Johnson will join him in this year’s NAB AFL Academy squad. Another youngster turning heads for West Perth is 16-year-old Lochlan Paton who has been very impressive in his short time at the club thus far. The Falcons will be hoping his promise turns into production in the coming years.
Last year’s Reserves premiership highlighted the depth at West Perth and many players from that young side will be hoping to push their credentials for a regular League position this year. Add to that promising Colts crop from last year and the Falcons should be strong contenders in the second grade yet again. Players such as Tristan Hobley and Liam Tedesco will be hoping for more League opportunities this season but will once again be strong contributors for the Reserves if those roles are not forthcoming. A 68-point loss in a Grand Final rematch with Claremont on Saturday, however was not the most promising start to the year.
Picture: WAFL via Twitter