It’s a changing of the guard at Old Melburnians ahead of the 2023 VAFA season.
Jackson Paine, the clubs power forward has been elected the new captain, taking over from Josh Freezer who has led the club with distinction across the last three years.
Paine will be supported by Will Nichols as the vice-captain. Lachie and Ben Haysman, Ed Smart, Dan Coffield and Ed Michelmore round out the leadership group.
Since 2019, Paine has lived and breathed the OM’s way of being. 35 games, 69 goals. Many bumps and bruises along the way. Being told his passion for the place has spilled out onto his teammates and they wanted him to lead them in 2023, was a moment he won’t forget.
“When Satts (coach Paul Satterley) first told me that was the way the playing group wanted to go, I genuinely couldn’t wipe the smile off my face” Paine told VAFA Media.
“The privilege of leading the club I love so much really struck me.”
Paul Satterley has coached against Paine in 2019, and has had the privilege of mentoring him across the past two years, he has seen him come on in leaps and bounds within his footy, and leadership style.
“We are all very excited for Jacko to put his own stamp on this group… Jacko definitely wears his heart on his sleeve and I suspect we will see a very passionate on-field leader” said Satterley.
Josh Freezer remains a regular member of the OM’s senior side, and takes up his place in the backline. He will be a key pillar for them in defence with Oscar Hosking announcing his retirement after injury ended his 2022 season, along with ruckman Nick De Steiger and veteran on-baller Tom Paule.
Paine has leaned on ‘Fridge’ for advice since the announcement was made, and in time can see himself evolving into the leader that he wants to be “I take over from two great captains in Fridge and Borth (Gus Borthwick). They were both outstanding leaders in their own way and I think that has been their main point of advice – to make your own mark on the role.” Paine continued.
“I think that’s pretty sound advice, as grabbing the reins off the reigning Woodrow Medallist and a bloke with the class and reputation of Fridge are pretty tough standards to match up with.”
It was a devastating blow in the final fortnight of the 2022 home and away season with Gus Borthwick tearing his ACL. He will miss a majority of the 2023 season according to Satterley, and is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to replacing the 2022 Woodrow Medallist in the midfield this year.
“It has forced our hand to be a little creative with our midfield mix so excited for the next crop of midfielders to stand up in Gussy’s absence.”
“Without question both Ben Harding & Jacob Thompson will be great additions but I also am excited by the improvement we should see from guys like Ned Nichols, Ed Michelmore, Harry Bede, Jock Roysmith & Brodie Tonkin.” said Satterley.
According to Premier Data, Old Melburnians started the year off with a winning formula before finding themselves on the wrong side of results in the latter part of the season. The opportunity to play in the finals went begging, and they go into 2023 with newfound optimism.
Satterley has set about using this pre-season to rectify areas of the game he felt the side let themselves down in, and wants to see a more upbeat, energetic brand of footy from his troops in 2023.
“We have put a lot of focus on the brand of footy we want to play so we hope that helps many of our players improve individually and as a team.”
“Ironically we became a bit of a slow kicking team by the end of 2022 which goes totally against how I like my lads to play, so we will look for stats that help us get out of that rut of boring slow footy.”
For Paine, the improvement in the OM’s won’t be a tangible statistical number but “from within” and through the mental fortitude of the playing group along the journey.
“The attitude of the younger end of our list to learn and improve this pre-season has been outstanding.. I’m confident we will see a number of our younger boys take the next step this year.”
Old Melburnians open their season with a home game against University Blues at Elsternwick Park on Saturday, April 15.