REGROUPING: The Ipswich Eagles men will be looking to end a title drought next year. Picture: Rob Williams
REGROUPING: The Ipswich Eagles men will be looking to end a title drought next year. Picture: Rob Williams

Time to make running repairs on body, bolster club numbers

AUSSIE RULES:Like many footballers at this time of the year, Clint Bateman was keen to get some running repairs done on his body.

He has just had some cortisone injections to ease the pain in both shoulders for next year.

After playing 270 games over nearly two decades with the Ipswich Eagles, Bateman had the off-season upgrade so he can continue helping the club’s Reserve Grade side in 2020.

“It’s just wear and tear I guess,’’ the 44-year-old winger and club president said.

“I’ve had it for a while now and it’s just not settling.

“It’s a bit frustrating because we’ve started pre-season but over the Christmas period we’ll have some time off. It’s a good time to recover and get fresh for January.’’

Ipswich Eagles Aussie rules club president and Reserve Grade player Clint Bateman. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Ipswich Eagles Aussie rules club president and Reserve Grade player Clint Bateman. Picture: Cordell Richardson

The Eagles men’s and women’s squads started pre-season training in mid-November before their Christmas break. Training resumes on January 9.

Bateman was encouraged by the early roll-up, especially in the 2019 grand final-winning women’s squad.

“The numbers have been pretty good,’’ Bateman said.

“Usually before Christmas you only get the diehard players but there’s quite a few new guys.

“And the women as well . . . we’ve had 12 new girls coming on already.

“It’s pretty promising. We know we’ve got a lot coming after Christmas. People are just taking some time off, just to have a bit of a break and get the hunger back.’’

The history-making Ipswich Eagles women’s team. Picture: Cordell Richardson
The history-making Ipswich Eagles women’s team. Picture: Cordell Richardson

One of the reasons the Eagles women won a historic first title was the club spirit this year.

Bateman expected that to continue next season with an influx of players from different sporting backgrounds joining the women who completed a remarkable season in the QFA Women’s Division 2 North competition.

With their successful coach Rex Watts focusing on the Ipswich men’s Reserve Grade side next year, Bateman is looking for someone to guide the women.

Bateman, who was assistant women’s coach this year, will continue running the squad until a suitable mentor is appointed.

“The ladies just absolutely killed it,’’ Bateman said. “They finished third and had a never-say-die attitude for the finals.

“They just rocked up on the day and knocked them (Hinterland) off.

“It was very, very rewarding for the whole work that’s gone in over the last three years to get the team up.’’

The grand final victory came in only the second year Ipswich had fielded their own women’s team, having started with six players joining a mixed side with Cooparoo and Yeronga in 2017.

Ipswich Eagles footballer Zachary Lawrence celebrates a goal during the 2019 season. Picture: Rob Williams
Ipswich Eagles footballer Zachary Lawrence celebrates a goal during the 2019 season. Picture: Rob Williams

Experienced clubman Kym Mansell remains as senior men’s coach, having developed a number of young players this season.

Although the Eagles men were unable to make the grand final, Bateman was encouraged by the resurgence of talent, especially from Ipswich-based players.

“I think the men would agree they probably under-achieved (this year),’’ Bateman said, having made previous grand finals. “We expected a bit more, everyone did.

“The boys could have gone and at least made another grand final.

“But in saying that, they still had a fantastic season.

“We’ve retained just about all the players and we’ve picked up quite a few more quality players so we will be even stronger than we were last year.

“It’s just come down I guess to consistency.’’

The Eagles men will play in next year’s QFA Division 2 North competition, scheduled to start in mid-March.

The Eagles women are set to kick off season 2020 on Anzac Day.