Craighead's fall from top was inevitable

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014

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Jacob Page

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OPINION: It's hard not to feel sympathy toward the Craighead premier netball team of 2014.

Saddled with the history of more than a decade of success, the team has been forced to start largely from scratch and the dynasty days of eight titles in 11 years, multiple runs at the national secondary school tournament and back-to-back South Island titles, already seem like a distant memory.

The team has won just a solitary game out of six this season in the South Canterbury premier competition after being guaranteed finalists for more than a decade. Just three players returned from the squad that won the title 12 months ago.

The man who oversaw the dominance, Barry Tucker, has gone and is now taking on a netball role which focuses on a younger age-group.

On the surface, new coach Nic Cormick has been given an almost impossible task.

A weaker squad, burdened by history created by players now gone, seem to be sitting ducks for teams that still relish beating the "top dogs" whatever the scenario.

While the Kiwi tall popy syndrome dictates most will be pleased Craighead have been knocked down a peg, the rate of the decline has been worrying.

It's too easy to blame Cormick, Craighead's time at the top had been coming to an end and that had been evident for the past two seasons.

This year was always going to be challenging and even if Tucker had stuck around, it's unlikely the team would have had the experience on court to be a title contender.

Tucker has copped some flack on the quiet about leaving when he did but this too doesn't seem fair.

He was there for 12 years as head coach and every year they were title contenders and often favourites.

With the high player turnover in secondary school sport, it's a phenomenal achievement to be so consistent for so long.

This is just a season where Craighead has to learn, rebuild and take some bad results on the chin which they seem to be doing.

It isn't until the tough times that you really appreciate the good.

The team that finished fourth at the national secondary school championships was a special team since the North Island schools dominate the New Zealand scene.

It seems like it is now Roncalli College's time to take the helm of secondary school netball.

They have two teams in the premier grade but also some friction between the teams that threatens to derail them before their time at the top has even begun.

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- The Timaru Herald

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