Why Easts players ideal students for teacher
D-GRADE boys champions Easts have given the proud Ipswich club an exciting team to bring through after the Tigers youngsters completed a wonderful season.
Coach, A-Grade player and teacher Tim Woodford was quick to praise his spirited side after they scored five second-half goals to beat Combos 8-3 in last Saturday's grand final.
"It was awesome,'' Easts stalwart Woodford said.
"They've been a bunch of boys that have come up through Hookin2Hockey and E-Grade and then D-Grade.
"For half of them, it was their first premiership, which is really good to see.''
Being an Ipswich teacher, Woodford enjoyed working with kids the same age he often helps at school.
Most of his players were aged 11-13.
"These guys, you tell them one thing and they just pick it up like that. They are just so easy to coach,'' he said.
Brothers Lachlan and Samuel Savage scored two goals each, along with Mitchall Tange in the game played in blustery, rainy first half conditions before the sun came out.
After leading 3-1 at halftime, minor premiers Easts stepped up a gear to complete another dominant victory.
Easts only lost a couple of games throughout the year.
But Woodford could only dream of winning by such a big margin.
"We played them in the semi-final and it went 3-3 and then went to shoot-outs so we were expecting a really close game,'' the coach said.
"But I think of lot of them (Combos players) were E-graders and they had just played a grand final (earlier) so they just ran out of legs unfortunately.''
While twins Lachlan and Samuel played for Easts, another younger brother Tom lined up for Combos. Tom was named player of the final for his team.
Woodford said the Savage boys came up from NSW a few years ago and "they were just so professional in the way they train and the way they play.''
"It's very rare to see in a 12-year-old boy, that's for sure,'' Woodford said.
Easts' other brothers Andrew and Martin Batten are also twins.
After three years working with Easts' under-13 side, Woodford enjoyed his first premiership as a junior coach.
"We were one step short last year; got beaten in the semi-final,'' he said.
"I teach 11, 12 and 13 year olds every day so it's just great to see them take on board what you say and just produce it out on the grand final.''
Woodford, a regular goal-scoring striker in A-Grade, said seeing his team's goals shared around highlighted Easts' improvement.
"Actually at training, that was one thing we were always struggling with,'' he said.
"You'd get in the circle and just couldn't execute.
"So for 45 minutes on Wednesday at training, that's all we did. Just executing in the circle and to produce it on the day was awesome.''
Now the challenge is for Easts to bring the young guys up through the grades.
"We've got a great core group. If we keep them together, hopefully we can get into C-Grade and then go into senior hockey,'' Woodford said.