Sport

Bomber Brad comes of age

By Aydin Payne

WITH a senior list as star-studded as Kyabram’s, young Bomber Brad Whitford has flown under the radar this year.

Among the likes of Pettifer, Mangan, Weardon, Sheldon and Smith, it is easy to lose sight of the number 17 jumper.

Turning 21 later this year, Whitford is enjoying a stellar season.

In his third year up from junior level, Whitford has featured in the best players five times from his 10 matches.

Remarkably, in all five of those matches he was named in the top two better players.

But this is just a continuation of a steady rise for the classy midfielder.

Last year he featured in the Victoria Country under-19 team at Mars Stadium, while he was also a member of NAB League outfit Bendigo Pioneers.

‘‘Both of those were a great experience to be a part of,’’ Whitford said.

‘‘There were a lot of boys with top level experience and I learnt plenty from them.

‘‘And of course, there were plenty of great coaches with heaps of experience.’’

Heading into this season, the silky mover was hard at work in the preseason.

Before the start of the season, skills and running were high on Whitford’s agenda.

He has a superb kick and looks fit as a fiddle, and it was no surprise Whitford said team chemistry was another aspect he worked hard on.

‘‘Just getting to know everybody and how they play was big for me,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked hard on my skills and running, but knowing everyone’s game was a big area I tried hard with.’’

Unfortunately for Whitford, before the season had even started he suffered an injury setback.

‘‘I was out with a hamstring in the first couple of rounds,’’ Whitford said.

‘‘There were about four to five of us out with hamstrings at the start of the season.

‘‘So it didn’t really feel lonely watching on.’’

But luckily for the Bombers faithful, Whitford returned in the third round against Rochester.

By rounds four and five he had featured in the top-two better players and had earned selection in the Goulburn Valley League senior interleague squad.

Injury to Seymour’s Jason Cole paved the way for the young Bomber to enter the fray and play in the purple and gold colours.

Whitford conceded the appearance was a shock to the system, but he put it down to teammates and coaches.

‘‘It was pretty unexpected to be honest,’’ he said.

‘‘Paul (Newman) has great knowledge of the game and he’s been unreal for me as a player.

‘‘I’ve learnt so much in the past year and that goes down to the teammates and my coaches.’’

With the experience and skill surrounding Whitford at Bomberland, there is no surprise he is enjoying a breakout season in the GVL.