The Cootamundra Blues have locked in their key figures ahead of the 2024 AFL Canberra competition.
With Phil Bird happy to step aside from the presidency, Todd Basham is back on deck following a year away from the helm.
Basham had previously spent nine consecutive seasons in charge, and he was happy to take over from Bird, who is still a key player in the Blues line-up.
“It is good to be back,” Basham said.
“Basically, I wanted to try to have a break, and I did that last year, but now I’m back.
“I tried to flush someone out but ended up taking on the job, and it will basically be my job to help the committee and support Lee (Loiterton) as secretary and Ainslie (Fuller) as treasurer.
“They are two of the hardest working committee members, and they are always happy to put their hand up and help out, so anyway I can support them, I will.”
Basham did thank the outgoing Phil Bird, who balanced being President and playing in 2023.
“Phill struggled to do the president’s job and play, and I didn’t think that was fair on him,” Basham said.
“He did a great job, but I know, years ago when I was on the committee and playing, it’s hard, and you’re more worried about what’s happening off the field than on the field, and that was one of the reasons I thought I’d put my hand up and give him that break so he can focus on his last few years for the club.
“He’s been a stalwart and won three best and fairest awards, and I want him to enjoy his football.”
Basham was also pleased to announce that Joe Scott would be returning as coach of the Blues, and he will have the support of assistants Joel Pearson and Andy Merritt, as well as the returning Jacob ‘JT’ Tiernan.
“It’s good to have Joe locked in,” Basham said.
“He has been good for the last five years, and during that time, we’ve had a few ups and downs with COVID, but he has stuck through that, and now we’re trying to recruit a couple more players to strengthen our side and give him a chance of leading us to a premiership.”
Tiernan, who moves back to the club following a stint with the East Wagga-Kooringal Hawks in the Farrer League, is a massive signing for the Navy Blue.
“It’s good to have a big leadership group, as it means they can share the responsibilities,’ Basham said.
“Three out of the four of them have little kids, so it helps that they share it around a bit, and when they’re unable to commit to something because of family commitments, one of the other guys can step up to the role.
“Jacob Tiernan is a big pickup, and on the back of that, I’d like to think we can get a couple more players.
“We’ve been talking to a few guys, and there is the potential of five or six new faces joining us.
“We need to strengthen our midfield, add some experience, and keep developing the young talent coming through.”
Additionally, Basham wants to foster the club’s current Canberra connection, with things looking good ahead of 2024.
“We’ve still got our Canberra contingent, which is strong,” Basham said.
“We just need to make sure they’re happy and stable and that they want to keep playing for us.”
Regarding expectations heading into 2024, Basham said a better start to their campaign and featuring in the AFL Canberra finals were two goals he wanted to tick off.
“We definitely want to try and push deeper into the finals, and this year’s result, we started off a bit slow,” Basham said.
“It is important we start on the right foot, get a few wins on the board, and put ourselves in a position to be in contention for finals.
The Blues are already on the paddock, training each Friday night at Clarke Oval from 6 pm.
New and past players are invited to come down and get involved ahead of what is sure to be a big season.