Heathcote aims for sustained success

October 6, 2023 BY

Leadership: Heathcote Football Netball Club president Bec Dickinson (right) has reflected on the Saints’ growth in 2023. Photo: FILE

A NEW season is months away, but Heathcote Football Netball Club president Bec Dickinson is already looking at building on the club’s resurgence in 2023.

After several years near or bottom of the senior footy ladder, Heathcote struck back to be runner-up to Mount Pleasant in last month’s Bendigo Bank Heathcote FNL grand final.

“It was an incredible season,” Dickinson said.

Although the Saints did not win their first senior premiership since 2013 the club showed it could be a force to be reckoned with in 2024.

Dickinson said many people had played a role in the club’s rise.

President the past five years, she said the work of previous senior coaches Luke Bell and Wayne Primmer helped strengthen the club.

“A big factor is the stability of the club’s committee,” she said.

“Wayne Primmer brought in old-school thinking of being accountable for your actions on the field and the way players trained.”

Dickinson said the move to appoint Andrew Saladino as senior coach leading into 2022 was a gusty call by the committee.

“Andrew was keen to return to Heathcote. He had never coached a team, but the committee was impressed in his approach to the role.

“It was all about giving Andrew a chance and he is an amazing coach.”

Saladino was able to bring some top-line recruits to the club across 2022 and 2023, had some former players return, and younger players mark dramatic improvement.

“To have a Heathcote boy return to our club and do what he has done is incredible,” said Dickinson.

“He has a great rapport with people, asks lots of questions and is always willing to learn.”

The Saints had many players improve dramatically last season.

“Being able to attract quality recruits is important, but developing the players from Heathcote and nearby is also crucial to our long-term success,” said Dickinson.

The club president said the influence of assistant coach and captain Codie Price was another big factor in the team’s success.

“Codie had won a premiership at Sandhurst, had coaching aspirations and his professionalism and skill has helped our club so much.”

Codie’s fiancée Brooke Bolton is a star on the netball court for the Saints and a dual league fairest and best winner.

When it came to the netball side of the club, Brooke Bolton and Kelsey Hayes will stay on as co-coaches of the Saints’ A Grade team.

“All of this season’s 17 & Under team move into seniors and will be pushing for places in the high grades,” said Dickinson.

With many of the Heathcote FNC players and their families holding strong links to the clubs as players, officials, and supporters meant so much said Dickinson.

“We have amazing support from the businesses and community. Without their on-going support we would not be the club we are,” she said.