When asked about the 2023 season at Westside Grovely, Bryce Anson is remarkably positive considering the challenges the team faced.
The year saw Bryce take on his first senior coaching role, albeit in a player-coach position, leading a squad that had lost some of its key players from the previous season.
The first half of the season offered some hope, however as the competition came to a close, Westside found themselves falling to the foot of the table in the very last game of 2023. It wasn’t the season Bryce, or the club, had envisaged.
The season served as a chance to learn and regroup, and as part of that, a number of key roles have been established and filled at the club.
“There were some games where we pushed the better teams in the competition, and showed what we were capable of, but we just couldn’t hold a lead… but it was a real show of character from a lot of the guys. It showed we needed more depth and what we needed to build on to be stronger this time around”, Bryce said.
A restructure in Football Queensland competition meant that the club were ultimately saved from relegation and retained its place in FQPL 5.
“We have managed to keep the key players, the ones who showed character and determination when things weren’t going our way. This year is a full reset. We have taken this chance to try and become a more professional club than ever before and have a real chance at success in the years to come”.
Bryce first joined Westside as a player in 2011, and he reflected on this time fondly, but recognises how much has changed around the club.
“When I first joined it was a real community, but that was it. It was held together by an enthusiastic coach and a group who enjoyed playing as a team. Outside of that, there wasn’t much structure. We didn’t even have a fence around the field!”
The coaching team around Bryce has had a big shift this year, with Stuart Cahill, Mitchell Levick, Barry McErlean, Dave Armanelli and Daniel Sharpe making up the rest of the staff, and new Director of Football, Skie “Hano” Hanifin, bringing his experience and know-how to the table.
“Having Hano is massive. He has brought a whole new level of professionalism and expectation to the playing group, and the players are really buying into it”.
“The club is progressing so much in all areas. There’s a good junior setup, we all know how much Shane Gregory is doing, we have a Junior Director of Coaching (Jo Marshall), and a pathway from juniors to seniors is getting there. Soon we’ll have 16, 17, 18 year olds filling the gaps between the groups.”
While everyone wants to compete at the upper end of the league, Bryce acknowledges the strength that some teams in the league have.
“It’s a strong league. There are always a couple of really good teams that go up, and then either go up again or come really close in the league above. Then there’s another three or four who would be strong enough to at least compete in FQPL 4.”
“Our aim for this year is to be strong as a squad, have players coming through from reserves, and play entertaining football. We want to be tough to beat and be able to give the best a run for their money. I want to see the character of the team and see them all working together, every week”.
Westside Grovely’s season begins in the Kappa Queensland Cup, away at FQPL 3 side Mt Gravatt Hawks.