A man of many flags

On 20/03/2019 by admin

WINNING WAYS: Jason Saunders celebrates taking out the 2012 SWDFNL grand final with Heywood – the club’s first flag in 53 years.Jason, you’ve jammed a lot into your footy career but the main question centres around your birthday – April Fools Day.
Nanjing Night Net

Do many people stir you up about being born on that day?

Yes. There’s lots of people that have cheap shots.

It’s alright to let them fire off the cheap shots.

I keep on telling them I was born after midday so they ease off a bit after I tell them that.

Jason, you’re in your first season as senior coach of Allansford.

After 12 games, the side has notched up eight wins and is in fourth place on the ladder.

Are you happy with how the side is travelling at this stage?

I would have loved an extra couple of wins but we don’t have them.

I thought we did a good job against Dennington on Saturday to lose by only 23 points.

It was a bit of a turn-around on our game earlier in the year against Dennington when they beat us by 77 points.

We’ve got the top side Old Collegians this Saturday.

They beat us in round two but we are hopeful that we may turn the tables this week.

Dennington and Old Collegians are the two powerhouse sides of the league.

It’s fair to say we’ll have a better indication of how we are traveling after Saturday’s game.

This season at Allansford we’ve blooded a lot of our younger players that have come through our junior ranks.

They’re doing a great job.

What’s been the toughest part ofyour first season as coach at Allansford?

I suppose the toughest part for me has been about putting my game plan and structures in place.

The players are on board now andit took a while to get it all sorted out, but we’re heading in the right direction.

You’veplayed with Portland in the Western Border Football Netball League, and then in the South West District Football Netball League with Heywood.

How does the the standard of footy in the WDFNL compare to those other two leagues?

I reckon it’s pretty strong.

It’s a lot like the Western Border league used to be like – good, strong, tough country footy.

How did it come about that you got the coaching job at Allansford for this season?

I had a chat with Nick Johnstone through a mutual friend.

I knew a few blokes out at Allansford so it all ended up being a good fit for everyone.

Allansford is a bit like Heywood.

They both have strong community people involved in the clubs.

Jason Saunders in action for Allansford. Picture: Amy Paton

Will you coach Allansford next season?

I’ve got a one year contract with Allansford.

I’ve loved my time with the club but I’ve got to weigh up a lot of things before making any decisions.

I’ve got a young family and my work commitments to consider before decisions are made.

But I want to stress I love coaching footy.

Where did your footy career start?

I played a year in Geelong in the under 9s before my family moved back to Portland.

I played junior footy with West Portland and South Portland.

Then I playedin an under 16 premiership side with North Portland.

I started playing in Portland’s under 18 side in 1998.

I played in the reserves side at Portland in 2001 when we won the flag.

Jason, one of your sporting highlights was playing in Portland’s senior premiership win in 2003.

Who coached the Tigers to that premiership victory?

Brodie Atkinson was the coach for three years.

He came from Sturt.

Brodie was a great coach.

We beat South Gambier in that grand final win.

South Gambier was undefeated leading into the finals but we beat them when it counted –the grand final.

We were disappointing in 2004 but I suppose it had to be expected as we had lost eleven players from our 2003 premiership win.

The end of the 2005 season finished up being terrible for Brodie as his brother Kyle died in a car accident in August.

Kyle was coaching Nirranda at the time.

Mark Jeffries took over as coach at Portland in 2006.

I had a mixed 2006 season as I had broke my right hand.

I played in the reserves grand final side which lost and I would say the 2007 season was no better for me as I switched between the seniors and the reserves.

Was 2008 any better for you?

Yes. Winis Imbi was the coach.

He was a great player for the club so was his brother James.

We beat Hamilton Imperials to win the flag I played on Imps coach Brad Cooper.

We fell short in 2010 as we lost players and had some injuries.

When did your involvement in coaching begin?

I was the Portland under 15 coach in 2007 and ended up being a finalist in the regional junior coach of the year before taking over as the under 17 coach with Portland in 2008.

I filled two roles in 2009, the first as the senior fitness coach with Portland and the under 17 coach.

I was the fitness coach at Portland in 2010 and 2011.

I went out to Heywood for the 2012 season as assistant coach to Shane Keegan.

We defeated Westerns by 30 points to win the flag.

It was a wonderful effort as it was Heywood’s first premiership win in 53 years.

I took over as senior coach of Heywood in 2013.

We lost the grand final to Coleraine in 2013 and lost again in 2014 to Dartmoor before beating Tyrendarra last year to win the flag.

It was a relief to get my first senior coaching premiership victory under my belt.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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