Flying high

Pambula Panthers forward Tom Hammond takes a strong mark at full stretch during his side’s clash with the Bega Bombers on Saturday, which was abandoned due to an injury just before halftime, with the Panthers leading 53-15.

Pambula Panthers forward Tom Hammond takes a strong mark at full stretch during his side’s clash with the Bega Bombers on Saturday, which was abandoned due to an injury just before halftime, with the Panthers leading 53-15.

Chances are, if you’ve ever laced up a boot, or any other piece of sporting apparel, you’ve been on the receiving end of a lecture about the importance of working hard at training.

And chances are, you thought you’d heard it all before.

But while it might be clichéd, what happens on the training paddock on those bitterly cold weekday nights really does come home to roost on game day.

Just ask the Pambula Panthers.

On the cusp of an undefeated regular season in the SCAFL seniors competition with just two rounds remaining, you’d have to think there’s a secret to their success.

Go looking for the answers, and you’ll find them on the training paddock.

“I think it really comes back to their fitness,” club president Bryan Hammond said.

“The boys worked extremely hard during the pre-season, and that shows on game day.

“We probably weren’t expecting to win by the sorts of margins we have been, but you’ll find that we’ve won a lot of quarters comprehensively, especially fourth quarters.”

The only time Pambula haven’t gone home with the maximum four competition points in 2014 was on Saturday, after their clash with the Bega Bombers was abandoned shortly before halftime following a broken collarbone suffered by Bomber Joey Gehrig.

It was the third match of the day to finish in these circumstances, after the development league and under 16s also ended prematurely due to injuries.

Under national Australian football rules, games that are delayed for longer than half an hour before halftime must be abandoned and called a draw.

The Panthers were cruising towards another win at 53-15 when play was called to a halt, and Hammond says that while it was disappointing not to finish the match, the side has moved on and is looking forward to hosting third-placed Bermagui this Saturday.

“Seeing three ambulances on our footy field was terrible, and I never want to see that happen again,” he said.

“But we’ve turned our attentions to the game against Bermagui this weekend, and they’re a good side.

“What’s very pleasing for us is we’re strong right across the park, and we’ve got three or four of the top six SCAFL goal kickers in our side.

“Tom Hammond is leading the way and we’ve had a very good addition this year in Scott Richmond.

“Then we’ve got such a strong midfield with the likes of the Proctor brothers; there really aren’t any weaknesses in our side and the load is being shared.”

And it’s not just the seniors prospering in 2014.

Pambula is on track to take out the club championship, with its development league and under 13s holding an equal share of the competition lead, and the under 16s in third place.

Hammond says this is no coincidence.

“Pambula has always prided itself on being a family-oriented club, and bringing junior players into our club and helping them develop is very important to us.

“There is an after-school program that has been running for a while now at Pambula Public School, and we’re always willing to take young players on board regardless of their skill level.

“If you look at the seniors this year, the majority of those guys have been a part of the club for a long time.”

And while he’s always calling for new people to join the club, Hammond also has a message for anyone who has been associated with the club in the past.

“We want all the past players and committee to come along and enjoy the success that we’re having at the moment,” he said.

“That’s what it’s all about; we’re just the gatekeepers along the way really.”

Diggers match called off

The Merimbula Diggers’ scheduled clash was called off on Saturday, with players attending a memorial service for MH17 victims Mary and Gerry Menke.

The Mallacoota couple’s son Paul plays for the club, which had been due to travel to Tathra to tackle the fourth-placed Sea Eagles.

Their next match is against the Bermagui Breakers on Saturday, August 17.

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