Season 2017 saw Southport Sharks compete in the 10 team North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) competition. Unfortunately, the season ended with a very disappointing result.
Pre-season kicked off in mid-November with three training sessions per week. The key signings were former Suns defender Seb Tape and WAFL key forward Hamish Shepheard.
The coaching panel was again headed by Nathan Bock, with Southport Hall of Famer Dane Carmody, former Suns Danny Stanley and Andrew Hayes as his assistants. The Strength and Conditioning Department was led by Matt Kennedy who was well assisted by Paul McRobert.
A one day Pre-season Camp was held at the Surfing Australia High Performance Centre in Casuarina, NSW. “Winning Formula” were engaged to run the camp and the players were put through a punishing day of team building activities. Feedback from the players was extremely positive.
The Leadership Group was selected by the coaching staff this season and the following appointments were ratified by the Board:
Co-Captains – Andrew Boston and Seb Tape
Vice Captains – Adam McKenzie, Todd Grayson and Jordan Keras
During March, we played three practice matches against the Suns Academy, Aspley and Redland. The first two performances were promising but the third game against Redland resulted in a heavy loss which certainly dented some confidence.
We kicked the season off at Fankhauser Reserve and were in control against competition favourites Sydney University, but a complete lack of discipline late in the game cost us the win.
Heavy losses against eventual Grand Finalists Sydney and Brisbane left us at 0-3, however in Round Four we demolished Canberra by 56 points. Losses followed against Aspley, Sydney University and Northern Territory Thunder before an 18 point win over Redland kept our season alive.
The next two matches emphasised the ever-increasing gap in the NEAFL competition. We were defeated by the Suns at Metricon Stadium to the tune of 117 points and then by Brisbane at Fankhauser by 150 points. The Suns (with 20 listed AFL players) and the Lions (with 22 listed AFL players) dominated from the start, showing that semi-professional players are no match for full time AFL players.
At this stage of the season, with the club sitting at 2-10, Jack Anthony decided to retire.
The following week we travelled to Alice Springs as rank outsiders, coming off a club record loss. The players responded brilliantly and thrashed Northern Territory Thunder by 53 points. We kicked our highest score for the year and hopes of a late season revival were restored.
A close loss away at Redland followed by a big win over GWS at home kept us in touch of the top six but we fell to Canberra at Manuka Oval the following week and our season was effectively over.
We ended the season with another four losses to finish 9th on the ladder (4-14), ahead of only GWS. Long term injuries to Grayson, Clements, Kiel, Budarick, Egan, Franks and Filewood, combined with the retirement of Anthony, were all factors in our poor result in an extremely tough competition.
The NEAFL MVP function was held in Brisbane on 20th August and Southport Vice-Captain Jordan Keras was a very worthy winner on 78 Votes. Jordan averaged 35 disposals and 10 clearances throughout 2017 and was also named in the NEAFL Team of the Year.
At season’s end, Nathan Bock resigned from the Senior Coaching position.
This year’s Presentation Night was held in the Premier Room of Sharks Event Centre and Jordan Keras was awarded the ’Doc Mackenzie’ Medal for 2017.
The Junior club were also successful with seven of a possible nine Grand Finals, with the Under 16 Boys bringing home a Premiership.