CRAIG Mannagh only allows himself a quick glance at the Cricket Albury-Wodonga ladder each week.
While the Albury captain is proud of the team’s best start to a season in his four years at Billson Oval, the experienced campaigner refuses to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Mannagh craves winning the respect of the competition and realises that doesn’t come with two wins.
“Last week was a step back against St Pat’s but since I came to the club four years ago, I have seen a lot of improvement off and on the ground,” he said.
“The hardest thing is to earn respect and that’s the challenge ahead of us at the moment.”
Mannagh’s sporting history shows he isn’t afraid of a scrap, with a coaching stint at Thurgoona in the Tallangatta and District Football League, when the Bulldogs were rebuilding, and only two months ago he set out on a similar road with Hume Football League club Walla.
He was enticed to Albury four years ago when Clinton Gilson took over the new entity and is proud of the progress the club has made.
The club finished with a solitary win against Yackandandah in his first season before a combination of poor results and rain kept Albury winless in 2010-11.
Things started to look up last season when his charges brought down New City and Dederang, and victories against Wodonga and East Albury in the opening five rounds this season have Albury well positioned.
“Slowly but surely we are getting there,” Mannagh said.
“Not being able to recruit big name recruits has been hard for us but Tass (David Tassell) has been a good pick-up and blokes like Tom Winkley, Nick Morris and these sort of guys have come on from nowhere.
“Finals is something we’d love to achieve but staying out of the bottom two is a fair call.”
But at the moment Mannagh is focused on Albury ridding the demons of last weekend and bouncing back with a strong performance against Wodonga at Les Cheesley Oval today.
“It’s about being versatile and backing ourselves,” he said.
“I think we need to occupy the crease and be confident.”