Former Prahran junior Tom Langdon (left) and former East Brighton junior Max Hayes (right) Posted in Front Page News , People of the SMJFL

By Ben Pollard

The Sandringham Dragons have turned to two former SMJFL players, Tom Langdon and Max Hayes, to lead the club through the 2013 TAC Cup season.

Langdon, a former Prahran junior, and Hayes, a former East Brighton junior, were announced as co-captains at the Sandringham season launch last week.

Their leadership campaign begins on Sunday at Visy Park, when the Dragons come up against the Western Jets in Round 1 of the TAC Cup.

Sandringham Head Coach Justin Plapp said at the season launch that Langdon and Hayes were standout candidates for the captaincy positions and voting among the coaches was unanimous.

Langdon and Hayes will bring different experiences and different traits to the leadership roles.

One of the Dragons’ five 19 year olds, Langdon has football and life experience beyond that of many of his teammates.

After a stellar end to the 2012 season, the medium-sized utility went through the disappointment of being passed over in the AFL drafts, but is using the experience as motivation this year.

“I went through a difficult period last year with not being drafted and I think I learnt a lot about myself and what I needed to do this year,” he said.

Sandringham Region Manager Ryan O’Connor said the results were showing.

“I think he was pretty stiff (not to be drafted), but he’s gone back to the drawing table to go about a pre-season and has come back bigger and better and stronger,” he said.

It’s no surprise, then, when Langdon says he likes to lead by actions.

“I’m pretty loud around the group in terms of training and leading up to games, but I like to see myself as an on-field leader as well in terms of my aggression and workrate, which the younger people obviously look up to,” he said.

Langdon’s co-captain Max Hayes brings something a little different to the table. Just hearing him speak indicates what style of leadership he thrives on.

“I like to think I have a nice loud voice,” he said. “I like to get my point across and especially on the field I communicate the way in which structures are set up on the ground.”

It’s not all words with big key position player though; Hayes has been working on leading by example on the training track.

It started when he missed out on a spot in the leadership group as a 17 year old last season.

“I think I was disappointed as a bottom-ager not to get a spot in the leadership group because I have pretty high goals, but then I worked hard during the season,” he said.

About halfway through 2012, the hard work paid off and Hayes was brought into the leadership group, an experience he said helped him prepare for the captaincy.

Indeed, after a big pre-season and end to 2012, both captains are prepared physically and mentally for the challenges ahead.

They may bring different experiences and different traits to their leadership positions, but Tom Langdon and Max Hayes both want the same thing for the 2013 Dragons – to go two steps further than the disappointment of a preliminary final loss last season.