SATURDAY’S preliminary final against Redan is North Ballarat City’s most important game since it rejoined the Ballarat Football League in 2008, according to coach Rob Waters.
North made the preliminary final in 2010, but Saturday’s match comes with a certain difference.
All year it has been expected North City would at least make it to the preliminary final, even viewed as premiership favourites in the eyes of many throughout the season.
But Waters says his side has achieved nothing yet, as opposed to previous years where they would have been more than happy to make it through to the penultimate match of the season.
“In 2010 we made the preliminary final and we shocked a few by getting through,” he told a BFL press conference yesterday.
“It was a bit of a learning curve, some of the guys were pretty happy to be there. But now we are talking about winning premierships.
“We’ve done nothing yet, it’s only the middle of September. We hope we are at that level where we can win premierships like the Redans and Sunburys do.”
Waters admitted his side was embarrassed by the Lions two weeks ago in the qualifying final.
Going down by 41 points, it came as a genuine wake-up call that the black-and-white brigade had to step it up to another level in September, both in physicality and intensity.
Waters said perceptions that his side had been soft in the qualifer were certainly addressed at the club.
A comprehensive contested ball domination against Darley the following week showed his side had quickly learnt what it took to compete in finals footy.
“The boys are in trouble when the coach rocks up to training with a mouth guard,” Waters said.
“It was important to show the community that we are a good team and also for the boys mentally to know we are up for it.”
Tristan Cartledge went under the knife last week and has been ruled out for the season, requiring further operations on his broken hand in the coming weeks.
Derick Micallef has also been ruled out this week, but Waters stopped short of ruling a line through him if North happens to make the grand final.
“He’s pretty keen but we don’t want to take in any injured players, we’ve got to be really smart,”