Whitford’s wisdom has Demons daring of doing the double
By Marcus Uhe
Saturday’s flag unfurling ceremony at Casey Fields will not be an unfamiliar scene for new Casey Demons senior coach Taylor Whitford as his side kicks off the new season with a celebration of its 2022 achievements.
Stepping into the hot seat after two years as their senior assistant, Whitford’s time in football – and coaching boxes – has been intrinsically linked to premiership success in the past decade.
Prior to joining Casey, Whitford coached North Launceston in the Tasmanian State League to two premiership wins in 2018 and 2019, having captained the same side to glory in 2015 and 2017.
While for many it would be unique to take over as a senior coach after winning a premiership rather than facing a rebuild, Whitford knows exactly what it will take to go back-to-back .
“I can draw on (previous experiences) a little bit, but it’s just about building that dynamic in the group again,” Whitford said.
“From my point of view, it’s about remembering 2022 as a successful season for the club, but we’ve moved on now, and the first day of pre-season was all about building the right habits to ensure that continued success at Casey to build.
“We’ve been lucky enough over the last three or four years, albeit interrupted by Covid-19, that we’ve had successful seasons at Casey and we hope to continue that.”
With the pre-established chemistry and camaraderie with the playing squad, the transition has been “smooth” for Whitford, supported by the established senior group of players in premiership captain Mitch White, James Munro, Matt Buntine and George Grey.
In the fortunate position of having seen much success during his time in the game, Whitford believes familiarity within the squad is a key element of strong clubs and the ability to achieve the best.
“I think every different team I’ve been involved with has had their own little intricacies in how they go about it, but one consistency has been the cohesiveness of the group and the willingness to play a role for the team,” he said. .
“It’s also a little bit around my coaching, and how we can link together, implement the things we want to implement both on and off the field, but also understanding what is required in certain situations for certain players.
“We’ll try to build on those few things and hopefully it produces some really good things this year.”
Former Dandenong Stingrays Finn Emmell-Brennan and Ziggy Toledo Glasman are backing their bid to win it all again, along with Nar Nar Goon’s Patrick Cross, who played for the Gippsland Power last season.
With the first bounce just days away after a long summer on the track, Whitford is excited to see what 2023 can bring, and won’t put a ceiling on what they can achieve.
“Pre-season was great but there’s nothing like the in-season mode of games week-to-week, whether we win or lose, we’re all about getting better and turning up next week,” he said.
“I’m very excited about the year, that’s for sure.
“We go into the year full of confidence.
“We understand that our best footing is up there, but like I said before, every year is a different year and we just have to understand that, and not come in and expect things to play out.
“We’re definitely ready to start again, hopefully put in a good few weeks and judge our season from there, hopefully keep building and put ourselves in the top four or top six now.”
Saturday’s game against Footscray kicks off at 2.05pm, with the flag to be unfurled beforehand.