FOR success-starved football clubs, nothing hurts more than losing with glory in sight. So it has been at the North Old Boys St Patrick’s College Football Club. With no senior premiership since 1982 and only four since it was founded in 1963, times have been tough.
In the past four years, they’ve played in three preliminary finals, including the last two, but have lost them all, preventing them from being promoted to the Premier C division.
Leading Banyule by three points at three-quarter time in last year’s preliminary final, the North Old Boys capitulated and lost by 30 points.
Senior coach Richard Peoples says the heartbreak of losing with glory in sight is driving the team this year.
“We’re a bit frustrated that we can’t get to the granny,” he says. “We’ve lacked depth the last few years so when we’ve been hit with injuries it’s really hurt the side.
“Last year we lost two of our best onballers; one before the finals and the other in the semi – that hurt.”
The North Old Boys have had a promising start to 2012 in Division 1, sitting second on the ladder after round seven with six wins and one loss to the undefeated competition heavyweights Peninsula Old Boys.
Peoples says their playing list is a lot stronger. “This year we have a lot more depth.
“We should be able to cover most gaps that we come across. It’s been a long, slow build-up over pre-season and numbers are still drifting through the doors. We’re still signing some players and we’re getting better each week.”
Peoples was particularly impressed with his side’s win over Old Mentonians in round five. “They were sitting second at the time and we worked them over fitness-wise and ran the game out, which was very positive,” he says.
“The thing that’s impressed me the most so far this year has been our workrate, it has really improved.”
The club’s elongated name comes from associations with schools over their time in the competition. From 1964 they were affiliated with St Joseph’s College in North Melbourne, which led to the “North Old Boys” name.
However, with the school closing down in 2010, the club formed a new partnership with St?Patrick’s College in Ballarat, providing the club with a unique recruiting situation.
“These associations take time to really build,” Peoples says. “But the college has been very supportive and we’ve probably got about 20 guys on the list who have been at St Pat’s and about half a dozen from Ballarat.
“Ideally we’d like to get them playing at the club straight out of school, which is something we need to work on.
“We need to become more professional, get ourselves into C grade or B grade and keep continuing to improve the way we go about it. We’ve got a long way to go yet.”
The club also incorporates the Brunswick Junior Football Club and the Brunswick Mudlarks, a club for over-35s.
“We’re catering for all generations here,” Peoples says.