Players Voice

Captains Letter – Matthew Panos

Dear Norwood Faithful,

2020 began with a buzz and high expectations, a talented and healthy list to boot. We were extremely committed and had a strong preseason heading into the March trial games. The stars were seeming to align for us and then COVID-19 hit.

Unfortunately, after the restart we lacked cohesion and connection. This showed in our 0-3 start and in a shortened season it was always going to be hard to play catch up. We played some exciting footy but showed a lack of passion in too many games. The difference between our best and worse was far too great, something that needs to change next year.

Injuries went against us, some bad ones too. While we tried to regroup and focus on simply getting the job done, it did not always play out on the field.

Missing finals for the second time since 2009 was bitterly disappointing. Many of you may think it was a failed season, but we can take some positives away from 2020. As a playing group we have learnt a lot about ourselves, our resilience, our love of the game and our shared pain in the losses. We felt privileged to play our sport in a year where so much was taken from others, we were able to give back to our fans and thank them for sticking by us through the club’s toughest time in recent history. I am sorry we could not have done more for you.

With injuries it meant we were able to display our young, local talent – silver linings. These boys have worked hard to earn their spot in the team. They will continue to work hard, and our future looks bright with a stack of talent coming through the U/18s.

Matthew Panos celebrates with Zac Richards and Matthew Nunn against North Adelaide in Round Two. Photo Credit – Deb Curtis

I was a little surprised to find out Cotts wasn’t going to be a part of the footy club in 2021. I admire and respect him. Over the past five years he has played an important role in my development as a player. He was always striving to help others and put the club’s needs before his own. In 2009, Cotts gave me my first game for the NFC. I was a skinny 18-year-old tall forward… a lot has changed since then.

After chatting to our new coach, Jade, I can see the club is going to be in good hands. I cannot wait for him to get stuck into pre-season with the team and I am very optimistic about the changes we can make. I look forward to helping Jade implementing new structures, bolstering our values and developing a game plan that suits our playing group.

We have taken the opportunity during the offseason to walk through the new facilities at Coopers Stadium and cannot wait to put them to use next year. We have almost forgotten what it feels like to have the spoils of these facilities and it will be amazing to use our new changerooms, coaches’ area, ice baths, medical rooms and have our full weights room back. We look forward to these facilities helping us with training and recovery and contributing to the team building a strong culture of trust and togetherness. The Wolf Blass Community Centre is going to be an integral part of the Football Club, allowing members, spectators and players to celebrate our success in 2021.

As we look to the future, it would be remiss of me to not recognise another integral part of our club, one that will no longer be with us. Some of my fondest memories over my eight years here have been shared with ‘Baulders’. We came to NFC together in 2013 and developed a strong bond on and off the field. I am going to miss running on to one of his deft ruck taps at centre bounces, but all careers must come to an end and he will be sorely missed.

My ACL rehab is coming along well. Eight weeks post-surgery and my physio and surgeon are very happy with the progress. Everything looks to be on track now, but it’s going to be a long road back to playing. Fingers crossed for a late season comeback in 2021.

To that end, I want to thank you for your support this season. 2020 brought many complexities and throughout it all our fans stood by us.  You purchased your Fortis in Porcella merchandise, watched us on the SANFL digital pass, showed up to games and helped build the fort. I would like to thank all the volunteers who put in countless hours each week, most going unnoticed, to help the club run so smoothly. Without their dedication and love for the Norwood Football Club, we would not be the successful club we are today.

While this year may be one to forget, it is also one to reflect on, learn from and celebrate as we head towards our next preseason. Bring on 2021!

Fortis in Procella

Matt Panos

Declan Hamilton celebrates a goal with Ryan Bastinac and Matthew Panos against Sturt in Round Four. Photo Credit – Deb Curtis.