The Positivity Files is The Standard's new mini series which celebrates the reasons Hampden league fans can be excited for their club's fortunes in 2022.
EX-COACH Adam Courtney joked "I must've ran over a black cat on the way to the interview" when reviewing his time at Cobden.
Luck can be a deciding factor in sport, and unfortunately it wasn't on the Bombers' side throughout Courtney's reign.
Injuries, while they affect every club, piled up and the former Simpson mentor felt the pain when the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to his players' fierce momentum heading into the 2020 and even the 2021 season.
But there was hope. The emergence of some young leaders, the development of a gameplan and the injection of talent all has Cobden poised to keep building under a new coach in 2022.
Here's why Bomber fans can be excited for 2022 as the club strives to return to Hampden league finals.
Cobden lost a ton of experience before Courtney took over in 2019. Paul Hinkley, Levi Dare, Dominic Dare, Paul Foster were the four big exits and left a gaping hole of experience. It meant Courtney's staff had to build a new foundation to work from, something which takes time.
Now, their replacements are coming into their own.
Patty Smith, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear late in 2021, emerged as a strong option and produced an ultra-consistent season through the midfield. Jack Hutt, Jesse Williamson, Mark Marriott and Christian Koroneos were all solid performers and made up a strong core of emerging leaders.
The groundwork and foundation is there for the next coach to implement fresh ideas and try to lift the Bombers up to the next level.
THE BETTER RUN
Injuries aren't an excuse, but they are most definitely a reason in some cases. In 2021, Courtney estimated he had "six or seven" of his best 21 miss 14 games or more in his 30 games in charge. For a club trying to rebuild, figures like those are disastrous.
On the basis of probability, Cobden couldn't possibility have as wretched a run with injury as it did in 2021.
The return of talented onballer Patty Smith, albeit likely towards the end of 2022, will provide a boost to the Bombers' midfield ranks and will potentially bolster a side pushing for finals action.
Cardiovascular ability and fitness is the Bombers' biggest hurdle but if they can turn it into a strength, they could well be a force to be reckoned with. Fitness was a weakness in 2019 and Courtney and his staff made a point of addressing it for the 2020 season.
The club was allegedly "flying" leading into the 2020 campaign before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced the cancellation of the season.
Courtney said the upside was endless if the side could add to its base.
"I was really confident in the list and felt it could move forward quickly (in 2020) and then COVID hit, and in 2021 we were probably back to 2019 fitness levels," he said.
"All people get affected differently by COVID and for us the fitness probably went back a bit.
"They're a really good bunch of blokes and I can really see a good future for them if they put the time in and put in to their fitness. They've got the skills, it's just the fitness."
THE TALL TIMBER
It's still unclear just how Cobden's list will shape up in 2022 but Mark Marriott - a towering ruckman - would be a key inclusion. The big man, who was unveiled as the Hampden league's fifth most consistent player of 2021 from The Standard's research, is one of the competition's best and will provide a contest whenever he's called upon.
Marriott, a former Murray Bushranger and Victoria Country representative as a teenager, would be a near certainty to take out the Bombers' best and fairest.
The Geelong-based talent would be a vital cog as Cobden develops fellow young tall Ben Berry.
THE FORWARD THREAT
Height in the forward half of the ground wasn't always readily available for Cobden in 2021 but with the addition of a tall target, the Bombers could field a dangerous and potent attacking six.
Paul Pekin, a small forward who is a difficult matchup, is a tough prospect for opposition while midfielders Jack Hutt, Jesse Williamson and Josh Woods are all capable of hitting the scoreboard.
The Bombers have the mosquito fleet to cause serious headaches but would welcome a tall forward with open arms to complement Berry and Marriott.
THE NEW MENTOR
Courtney will leave the role wondering what could've been given the interruptions of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, but a new coach would be reasonably bullish about taking on the group despite its ninth-place finish.
Still an incredibly young team, the upside is enormous and a coach - whether it be an experienced mentor or a first-timer - will have plenty to work with regardless of the game plan they decide to employ.
Fresh ideas can be everything for a team in Cobden's position and the right coach, one capable of continuing to build on the foundation Courtney set, could be a godsend.
How are you feeling about your club's chances in 2022? If you're feeling positive or negative and want to join the discussion, email email@example.com.
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