(First seen here on the EFL website)
Coach Brett Johnson has belief for Montrose. Since arriving in 2012, the club has seen great consistency with finals appearances since 2010 – with the ultimate prize coming in 2013; a Division 2 premiership and a promotion to Division 1 in the Eastern Football League.
“We really didn’t have any expectations as a group, coming up from Division Two,” Johnson says frankly. “It was about getting the best out of ourselves, where we finished up was really a by-product.”
Montrose’s 6-2 start to the 2014 season, including a victory over Vermont, kept everyone turning heads at the new men on the block. Johnson, though, says the club never tried to get ahead of themselves.
“I think we did gain confidence, in that we could mix it with the best in first division. (However) we were realistic as a club, and at the end of the day we think we had a pretty good year.”
Not wanting to lose the good run of form, Montrose have been hard at it looking for recruits to help bolster an already strong group of core players. Troy Wright and Alex McIntosh, from East Ringwood, as well as James McManus from Mooroolbark are just a few names to add more depth across the Montrose line-up.
“Troy will add some height to our list and be able to play up forward…James is another strong midfielder who can add another bit of grunt around the contests for us. Across the board we’ve been able to improve our depth…and hopefully that’ll improve our options.”
All these players, put through rigorous training and intense battles on game day, need to get through a full 18-round season. With the rise to Division 1, Johnson knew it wasn’t going to be easy against such talent, but backed his coaches and support staff at training.
“My philosophy as a coach is that you don’t win games of football by deceiving the opposition on match day, it’s all to do with training and preparation. Coming up from Division Two, our work rate had to set us apart, and we know we have to improve this year after probably peaking to soon last season.”
In his three years at the club, Johnson believes that growing into the role at a younger age (30) has been of huge benefit to his coaching career.
“You’re always improving as a coach…I’m really lucky that Montrose have great support around me, and some brilliant coaches that I’m working with. Most important is the environment you create, where players can come and get the most out of themselves.”
Norwood, Vermont and Balwyn loom as teams standing in Montrose’s way in 2015, but more exposure this season has players better prepared, Johnson declares.
“I think we’re definitely better prepared to compete. A lot of our guys haven’t been exposed to Division One football, and (already) having a season under their belt against good opposition is certainly going to help. We’re mindful that opposition teams will continue improve.”
Expect bright things from a team that surprised from round one last year.