Our ‘former’ coach Mark Choco Williams spoke to J-Air’s On The Ball program about his time at AJAX and his experien… https://t.co/XghJuxPy4e
AJAX have been swept aside in the final game of 2018, going down by 154 points to top-of-the-table St Bernards, officially relegating the Jackas to VAFA Premier C division for the first time since 2011.
Season 2018, Choco’s second in charge of the club, started brightly as AJAX thumped Old Haileybury in front of a huge crowd at Princes Park. However, a round two loss to Mazenod and a spate of injuries to key players triggered a six-game losing streak, only broken when AJAX defeated Monash Blues, the lowest ranked side in the league.
A mid-season form spike quickly gave way to another even more damaging losing streak, as the Jackas went winless for the remaining seven games of the season, culminating in Saturday’s relegation.
Speaking to AJAX Media, Choco highlighted the large number of players who have debuted and developed this season.
“Win-loss wise we weren’t as successful as last year, but we played 55 players and 18 on debut, it sets the club up for the future and that’s one of the main things I was looking to do.”
Reflecting on his time at AJAX Choco said: “I’m absolutely thrilled by it. The support and the welcome that I have received has been outstanding- it’s a real community club and everyone should be very proud of it.”
With much speculation as to who will coach AJAX next season, club president Ronnie Lewis left all possibilities open.
“We have commenced our search now that the season is over and are utilising our community and broader football contacts to speak with a range of potential coaches. We are very open as to who that might be & where they may come from,” Lewis said.
Lewis also addressed AJAX’s relegation to VAFA C-Grade, saying “achieving seven consecutive years as the longest serving VAFA B Grade Club, we have done an awesome job in being competitive in the second highest & highly rated amateur competition.
“However, a year that brought a number of significant retirements and long-term injuries to key players has meant that we can no longer keep up at this level.
It’s a cycle that happens to all football clubs at all levels. We will rebuild in Premier C and I have no doubt in time we will have the ultimate success and another crack at higher grades again in the near future.”
AJAX fans can look ahead to the club’s annual Best & Fairest night next month, where 20 year-old Kane Nissenbaum will go up against club captain Nick Lewis, 2017 winner Josh Ludski and key defender Richie Simon for the prestigious ‘Michael Ritterman Seniors Best and Fairest’ award.
Another highly makeshift Reserves side went up against third-placed St Bernards Reserves, losing 19.22 (136) to AJAX’s 3.1 (19). Ryley Michelson, Jordan Lipton and Sasha Gilberg each kicked one goal in what was an expectedly one-sided affair.
The Reserves can be proud of their efforts in a season where their best talent was regularly called up to the senior team in unprecedented numbers, resulting in a vastly different team-sheet from week to week and stifling any potential consistency.
The club will use the offseason to reset after a disappointing season on the field, with a new head coach and some new players expected to don the AJAX colours in 2019.
AJAX Media & Comms Manager
Firsts- 3.8 (26) def by St Bernards 26.24 (180)- Goals: R. Israel, J. Cohen, R. Simon. Bests: J. Forbes, J. Ludski, R. Simon, N. Lewis, C. Hamilton, S. Fayman.
Reserves- 3.1 (19) def by St Bernards 19.22 (136) - Goals: J. Lipton, R. Michelson, A. Gilberg. Bests: A. Gilberg, J. Tonkin, J. Burston, J. Teperman, N. Cohen, J. Liberman