MICHAEL Ferraro admits he expected a “development” year after Myrtleford lost most of its team in the wake of a League and Cup runners-up season last year.
But the departure of more than a dozen players from the squad that lost the Cup final with just 10 men after an errant red card has opened opportunities for the talented juniors who helped lift the Savoy to equal second halfway through the year.
Ferraro, coach Nathan Mirt and Brenton Cook are now part of the leadership group to generation next.
“It is a very different side to past years — we lost a lot of players after that Cup final (and had) the red card that was later decided was not a red card,” he said.
“People like Nathan, Marco Mancuso and myself were the kids learning from those with experience not long ago.
“But this year we have seen the emergence of players who had never played senior soccer and probably hadn’t figured in our calculations at the start of the year.
“We have had some indifferent results in the past month, but you can never fault their endeavour.
“These boys really lift for the better teams.”
Ferraro highlighted the emergence of Vitaly Leschen, Raul Pahina and Sam Morgan this year.
“When we sat down at the start of the year, talking about which players we would develop into senior footballers through the season, I don’t think we talked about Leschen and Pahina,” he said.
“There was no doubting their talent, but they were on the small side and senior soccer is pretty physical.
“But by round three they were both in the starting line-up and have been among our best all year.
“Sam Morgan is only 15, he is 6’3” (190 centimetres), but still only young.
“We needed a right back in round two against Boomers and threw him in — he hasn’t missed a game since.
“I said to him he had to talk, that was the key to defending — five minutes into the game he was blasting me about keeping our line.”
Ferraro said despite a tough six weeks where injuries and suspensions cost the Savoy any chance at the League title, the focus was now clearly on the Cup play-offs.
“We are training three times a week, looking to be at peak fitness for the Cup,” Ferraro said.
“We have a lot of boys who have never played finals, let alone senior Cup finals.
“But every time we have issued a challenge this year they have lifted, played out of their skins and I think they’ll do the same in the Cup.”