The Thuringowa Bulldogs have returned to the training track for the first time this year, signalling the beginning of their pre-season under new head coach, Ricky Sullivan.
Under a dying Townsville sun, and then the pounding white light of Tony Ireland’s floodlights, Sullivan set the tasks for the blokes that made the commitment to get down, with both players from A-grade and reserve grade appearing, with approximately a dozen new faces showing up to the club for their first run at the club, as well as past juniors such as Brad Gealy and Adam Bice, the son of previous president Michael Bice.
The players were out running with the footballs for around seventy minutes, before they were pulled in, and along with the assistance of Sullivan’s two assistants, club legend and three hundred gamer Darren ‘Skip’ Lange, and former premiership captain/coach Paul ‘Cecil’ Sanson, finished off the first night with a ‘conditioning’ section, that comprised of three components; intense skill work, boxing and running.
It was great to see three time senior best and fairest, Clint Austerberry, back on the track after a year of retirement. Austerberry’s last game was as captain of the side of that defeated the Hermit Park Tigers on the way to a record 110 point victory in the 2014 grand final.
Josh ‘Mullet’ Hollis was seen sporting a beard that suggests he may have been stranded on a lost island for the whole of the off season, while last year’s co-captains Ricky-Bob Lyness and Damon Szabo, returned with neither looking like they’ve missed a beat from last season.
It is a testament to the club’s junior coaches and development that Nathanael Kennell, who debuted last year, looks set to push for a regular senior spot this year, and he seemed determined to so, showing he had continued to train through the summer break as he powered through the running section of the conditioning section. While the club is pleased to secure the services of rising youngster Charlie Gaudion for the season entire, as Charlie played junior football for the Northern Beaches while appearing three times for the seniors last year, he is now determined to play for the club at a senior level.
As well as the men returning to the track to seek retribution, the women’s side, one of only two from the club that was able to win a premiership, began the defence of their title. Under well respected AFL Queensland Regional Manager, Kath Newman, about twelve ladies turned up in and began the work needed to defend their crown.
An excellent night that will not only hopefully be the beginning of a very successful year to the club, but also a step in a new direction as the club enters a new phase of it’s history under the presidency of Anthony ‘Tony’ Burke.