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2020 03 05 Riv Herald Sports Preview.pdf 1 11/03/2020 12:18:31 PM

To keep your upcoming sports season enjoyable, always remember: 1. It’s a game 2. The players are human 3. The umpires are human 4. The coaches are human 5. No one is playing for sheep stations

Damian DRUM MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR NICHOLLS

Contact me for assistance with any federal government issues 426 Wyndham Street, Shepparton, VIC 3630 03 5821 5371

damian.drum.mp@aph.gov.au

DamianDrumMP

damiandrum.com.au

Authorised by Damian Drum MP, National Party of Australia, Shepparton.


WELCOME

FOOTBALL AND NETBALL 2020 The McPherson Media Group’s annual Football and Netball Magazine is turning 16 this year – and how sweet it is. Once again, your one-stop shop for all things football and netball as the respective seasons of your favourite teams get set to launch, this magazine will provide you with all you need to know about your side and its opposition. Long-time fans of the publication will note a change in the feel and look of this edition, most notably in combining the football and netball stories of clubs in the Murray Football Netball League, Kyabram District League and Picola District Football Netball League. Also joining the magazine ranks for the first time this year is the Northern Country Women’s League, sliding in alongside the Shepparton District Junior Football League, Shepparton Netball Association and Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association.

An update on those familiar faces tackling the biggest stage of all in the AFL and AFLW is back again, as is a chat with NAB League outfit Murray Bushrangers for an idea of who might be next in line to make the leap to the top level. And of course, the Goulburn Valley League in all its glory will kick-off your reading. Outside of this magazine, the team at the Shepparton News sports desk has been working hard to keep its coverage fresh and interesting — and leading the charge on that front will be a new venture into the world of podcasting. The Four Sportsmen will grace your airwaves for the first time this year, aiming to bring a new take to sports coverage in the region and bring you the biggest and brightest stars of the area right to your earbuds.

Cover picture: The biggest story of the summer for the region’s football and netball competitions was undoubtedly Shane Crawford’s hand in rescuing Ardmona from the brink of Kyabram District League extinction. Now the hard work begins for the ex-AFL legend, who has been imparting his wisdom on his new troops at pre-season training.

4 Football and Netball 2020

In the days leading up to the printing of this magazine the Covid-19 — or coronavirus — pandemic really took hold, forcing all the leagues in the coverage area to postpone operations until at least May and likely longer. The decision was made to still go ahead with this publication — sans fixtures — in the hope of providing a ray of sunshine among the dark uncertainly of these unprecedented times. For up to date information, head to sheppnews.com.au, but for an escape from the reality of the coronavirus outbreak, go ahead and dive right in.

Contributors: Tyler Maher, Alex Mitchell, Aydin Payne, Liam Nash, Meg Saultry, Ed McLeish, Spencer Fowler Steen, Jamie Lowe, Andrew Johnston, Brayden May. Photographers: Rodney Braithwaite, Megan Fisher, Bruce Povey, Luke Hemer, Cath Grey, Steve Huntley, Karl Phillipson, Ray Sizer, Holly Daniel, Julie Mercer, Tyler Maher, Greg Kirk, Margo Gregory, Helen Baker, Bruce McKean, Robert Brooks, AAP.

– TYLER MAHER SHEPPARTON NEWS SPORTS EDITOR

Editorial design: Jessie Newton Sub-editing: Wendy Russell Advertising Inquiries: Aaron Brown 5820 3187 Published by Shepparton News Melbourne Rd, Shepparton Phone 5831 2312 | www.sheppnews.com.au facebook.com/SheppNewsSport | twitter.com/sheppnewssport


TIPSTERS Tyler Maher

Alex Mitchell

Aydin Payne

Shepparton News Senior sports reporter

Shepparton News sports reporter

Premiers

Premiers

Premiers

GVFL: Tatura GVNL: Shepparton MFL: Cobram MNL: Nathalia KDFL: Stanhope KDNL: Nagambie PDFL: Waaia PDNL: Katunga Morrison Medal: BJ Squire (Shepparton Swans) Wellman Medal: Jessie Barnes (Shepparton United)

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Seymour MFL: Nathalia MNL: Rumbalara KDFL: Tallygaroopna KDNL: Murchison-Toolamba PDFL: Katamatite PDNL: Picola United Morrison Medal: Doug Wren (Rochester) Wellman Medal: Meg Grbac (Seymour) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Anthony Andronaco (Shepparton) Story of the year prediction: For the first time since 2013,

GVFL: Rochester GVNL: Shepparton United MFL: Tongala MNL: Rumbalara KDFL: Avenel KDNL: Stanhope PDFL: Katamatite PDNL: Tocumwal Morrison Medal: Mick Mattingly (Kyabram) Wellman Medal: Laura Cole (Shepparton United) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Steven Stroobants (Rochester) Story of the year prediction: Shepparton Swans to go from

Shepparton News Sports editor

GVFL leading goal-kicker: Steven Stroobants (Rochester) Story of the year prediction: New ex-AFL talent dominates across the region, with the likes of Brock McLean, Jared Brennan and Sam Wright finishing on the podium of their respective league medal counts.

Liam Nash

Shepparton United will finish the home and away senior football season the highest of the four Shepparton-Mooroopna clubs.

finishing last in 2019 to securing a spot in the finals in 2020.

Meg Saultry

McPherson Media Group sports reporter

Ron Anderson

Shepparton News sports reporter

Premiers

Premiers

Premiers

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Shepparton United MFL: Nathalia MNL: Cobram KDFL: Stanhope KDNL: Stanhope PDFL: Tocumwal PDNL: Strathmerton Morrison Medal: Jason Cole (Seymour) Wellman Medal: Sarah Szczykulski (Seymour) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Kayne Pettifer (Kyabram) Story of the year prediction: A Goulburn Valley League foot-

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Shepparton United MFL: Numurkah MNL: Rumbalara KDFL: Nagambie KDNL: Nagambie PDFL: Rennie PDNL: Deniliquin Rovers Morrison Medal: JD Hayes (Euroa) Wellman Medal: Meg Grbac (Seymour) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Nick Warnock (Benalla) Story of the year prediction: Wunderkind Jake Pallpratt’s return

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Seymour MFL: Nathalia MNL: Rumbalara KDFL: Lancaster KDNL: Stanhope PDFL: Katamatite PDNL: Strathmerton Morrison Medal: Ed McLeish (Shepparton) Wellman Medal: Mia Fallon (Mooroopna) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Kyle Mueller (Kyabram) Story of the year prediction: Shepparton recruit Ed McLeish

Gus Underwood

Andrew Johnston

Brayden May

Kyabram Free Press sports reporter

Riverine Herald sports reporter

Riverine Herald sports reporter

Premiers

Premiers

Premiers

baller will be picked up in the mid-season AFL draft after a tearaway start to the season.

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Seymour MFL: Nathalia MNL: Moama KDFL: Lancaster KDNL: Stanhope PDFL: Rennie PDNL: Deniliquin Rovers Morrison Medal: Mick Mattingly (Kyabram) Wellman Medal: Steph Vick (Echuca) GVFL leading goal-kicker: Kyle Mueller (Kyabram) Story of the year prediction: Euroa to be a genuine force and be one of the main premiership contenders.

Shepparton News sports sub-editor

to Benalla as coach will see the Saints back where they belong − finals football. The Saints will ultimately fall short to Kyabram though in a reversal of the 2015 grand final result.

unleashes the beast to become the best centre half-forward in the Goulburn Valley League.

GVNL: Seymour GVFL: Echuca MNL: Moama MFL: Tongala KDNL: Merrigum KDFL: Girgarre PDNL: Katamatite PDFL: Waaia Morrison Medal: Mick Mattingly Wellman Medal: Elle McDonald GVFL leading goal-kicker: Kyle Mueller Story of the year prediction: Echuca finally back on the

GVFL: Kyabram GVNL: Seymour MFL: Echuca United MNL: Tongala KDFL: Girgarre KDNL: Stanhope PDFL: Katamatite PDNL: Picola United Morrison Medal: Jordan Harper Wellman Medal: Meg Grbac GVFL leading goal-kicker: Steven Stroobants Story of the year prediction: Ardmona’s year of redemption.

mountain top.

GVFL LADDER PREDICTIONS TYLER MAHER

ALEX MITCHELL

AYDIN PAYNE

LIAM NASH

MEG SAULTRY

RON ANDERSON

GUS UNDERWOOD

ANDREW JOHNSTON

BRAYDEN MAY

1

Echuca

Kyabram

Kyabram

Kyabram

Kyabram

Kyabram

Kyabram

Echuca

Kyabram

2

Kyabram

Echuca

Rochester

Echuca

Echuca

Echuca

Euroa

Kyabram

Rochester

3

Rochester

Euroa

Echuca

Seymour

Benalla

Euroa

Echuca

Rochester

Echuca

4

Euroa

Rochester

Seymour

Shepparton

Rochester

Seymour

Seymour

Seymour

Benalla

5

Benalla

Seymour

Tatura

Rochester

Seymour

Tatura

Rochester

Benalla

Euroa

6

Shepparton Swans

Shepparton United Shepparton Swans

Tatura

Shepparton

Benalla

Tatura

Mansfield

Seymour

Shepparton

Tatura

7

Tatura

Euroa

Shepparton United Euroa

Rochester

Benalla

8

Shepparton United Shepparton Swans

Mooroopna

Benalla

Tatura

Shepparton

Shepparton United Euroa

9

Shepparton

Benalla

Shepparton United Mansfield

Mansfield

Shepparton United Shepparton

10

Seymour

Tatura

Benalla

Shepparton United Mooroopna

Shepparton Swans

Mansfield

Mansfield Tatura

Shepparton United Shepparton United Shepparton

Mooroopna

11

Mooroopna

Mansfield

Shepparton

Euroa

Mooroopna

Mansfield

Shepparton Swans

Shepparton Swans

Shepparton

12

Mansfield

Mooroopna

Mansfield

Mooroopna

Shepparton Swans

Shepparton Swans

Mooroopna

Mooroopna

Shepparton Swans

Football and Netball 2020 5


AFL EXPORTS

GOULBURN VALLEY EXPORTS READY TO DOMINATE BIG SCENE The Goulburn Valley will have four fresh faces grace the AFL and AFLW playing fields in 2020 in what is shaping up to be another busy year for the home-grown exports. But first, joining the new players on the big stage will be Katandra product David Teague, who has taken the reins of one of Victoria’s biggest football clubs for the upcoming season. Teague was appointed the senior coach of Carlton Football Club last year after a successful interim period and joins the likes of GV products Damian Drum and Chris Connolly to have coached at the highest level. And on the field, two local talents in Mooroopna’s Millie Brown (Geelong) and Shepparton’s Grace Egan (Carlton) joined the six other AFLW exports. Brown was selected by Geelong as the club’s first fatherdaughter selection and Egan landed at the Blues via pick 13 in the AFLW Academy bidding process. Brown joined Kyabram’s Julia Crockett-Grills and Benalla’s Becky Webster at the Cattery, while Egan slotted in alongside Euroa exports Sarah and Jess Hosking. Mansfield’s Bonnie Toogood has been running around for the Western Bulldogs, while Shepparton’s Ange Foley – fresh off a premiership – is halfway through Adelaide’s title defence. And it will be a case of two in and two out this year in the AFL ranks. Shepparton’s Lachie Ash was drafted to last year’s grand finalist Greater Western Sydney via pick three in the draft, while Echuca’s Brodie Kemp has jumped on the Teague Train after joining Carlton with pick 17. Last year we saw the retirements of Kyabram’s Brett Deledio and Katamatite’s Sam Wright from the professional scene, with injuries hampering both players in their twilight years. Deledio’s former teammate, Echuca’s Sam Reid, will be hoping the Giants can return to September action and atone for their grand final loss to Richmond. And two locals enjoyed a taste of representative football last month. Tallygaroopna’s Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood) and Finley’s Tom Hawkins (Geelong) both featured in the State

of Origin bushfire relief fundraiser for Victoria and the All-Star sides respectively. Meanwhile, there was just one change of clubs for a GV export in last year’s trade period, with Kialla’s Alex Keath shifting from Adelaide to the Western Bulldogs. The defender joins a host of exports at the Dogs, with Deniliquin’s Sam Lloyd, Euroa’s Will Hayes, Seymour’s Josh Schache and Mooroopna’s Laitham Vandermeer. Keath’s addition at the kennel now means that the Western Bulldogs have the equal highest number of exports on their list, alongside Port Adelaide. The Power has a host of GV exports at its disposal, with Echuca’s Ollie Wines, Benalla’s Tom Rockliff, Deniliquin’s Todd Marshall and Rochester’s Joe Atley. Joe’s older brother Shaun is joined at North Melbourne by Mooroopna’s Jy Simpkin, who has joined the club’s leadership group for the upcoming season. Lastly, Moama’s Aidyn Johnson has joined Richmond’s VFL list after being delisted from Port Adelaide. – AYDIN PAYNE

David Teague

LOCAL AFL PLAYERS Jordon Butts — Adelaide (Shepparton) Caleb Marchbank — Carlton (Benalla) Brodie Kemp — Carlton (Echuca) Flynn Appleby — Collingwood (Cohuna) Jamie Elliott — Collingwood (Euroa) Steele Sidebottom — Collingwood (Tallygaroopna) David Mundy — Fremantle (Seymour) Lachie Schultz — Fremantle (Moama) Tom Hawkins — Geelong (Finley) Esava Ratugolea — Geelong (Cobram) Will Brodie — Gold Coast (Shepparton) Jarrod Harbrow — Gold Coast (Mooroopna) Nick Holman — Gold Coast (Kyabram) Lachie Ash — GWS (Shepparton) Sam Reid — GWS (Echuca) Daniel Howe — Hawthorn (Rennie) Harry Morrison — Hawthorn (Benalla)

6 Football and Netball 2020

Steele Sidebottom

Grace Egan

LOCAL AFLW PLAYERS James Cousins — Hawthorn (Mansfield) Jarman Impey — Hawthorn (Shepparton and Shepparton Swans) Marty Hore — Melbourne (Cohuna) Clayton Oliver — Melbourne (Mooroopna) Jy Simpkin — North Melbourne (Mooroopna) Shaun Atley — North Melbourne (Rochester) Tom Rockliff — Port Adelaide (Benalla) Ollie Wines — Port Adelaide (Echuca) Tom Clurey — Port Adelaide (Katamatite) Todd Marshall — Port Adelaide (Deniliquin) Joe Atley — Port Adelaide (Rochester) Aidyn Johnson — Port Adelaide (Moama) Alex Keath — Western Bulldogs (Kialla) Will Hayes — Western Bulldogs (Euroa) Sam Lloyd — Western Bulldogs (Deniliquin) Josh Schache — Western Bulldogs (Seymour) Laitham Vandermeer — Western Bulldogs (Mooroopna)

Angela Foley — Adelaide (Shepparton) Grace Egan — Carlton (Shepparton) Sarah Hosking — Carlton (former Euroa netball coach) Jess Hosking — Carlton (former Euroa netballer) Julia Crockett-Grills — Geelong (Kyabram) Millie Brown — Geelong (Mooroopna) Becky Webster — Geelong (Benalla) Bonnie Toogood — Western Bulldogs (Mansfield)


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

PAST PREMIERS 2019: Kyabram 2018: Shepparton 2017: Kyabram 2016: Kyabram 2015: Benalla 2014: Shepparton Swans 2013: Kyabram 2012: Tatura 2011: Shepparton United 2010: Shepparton United

MORRISON MEDALLISTS

Mick Mattingly

CAN KYABRAM BE DETHRONED?

2019: Mick Mattingly (Kyabram) 2018: Nik Rokahr (Shepparton) and Sam Martin (Benalla) 2017: Simon Buckley (Echuca) 2016: Simon Buckley (Echuca) 2015: Ash Watson (Rochester) 2014: Will Martiniello (Benalla) 2013: Luke Morgan (Benalla) 2012: Mark Blake (Mooroopna) 2011: Guy Campbell (Rochester) 2010: Kristian Height (Echuca)

The kings are back atop the mountain — but can the Bombers stay there? Kyabram returned with a vengeance in 2019 to complete a third perfect Goulburn Valley League season in four campaigns, with Shepparton’s 2018 triumph the outlier among a dynasty of epic proportions. Although Bomber legend Paul Newman has handed over the reins, Brad Edwards is keen to pick up where his mentor left off — and with little movement in the squad over summer he looks primed to do just that. Echuca is the natural challenger once more, but the likes of Benalla, Rochester and Euroa have been hitting the recruiting track hard over summer and look to have built squads to make them true contenders. The Bears have had a changing of the guard in their list, leaving plenty of opportunities for the side’s youth to showcase their wares this season, while Seymour should again be around the mark despite losing some depth. Tatura is a tough outfit to gauge after it said goodbye

to about as much talent as it welcomed, with Shepparton United causing plenty of recruiting waves as well by signing former AFL stalwart Brock McLean among a host of inclusions. Paul Hawke and the Shepparton Swans will be confident they can lift themselves off the bottom of the table — especially after favourite son BJ Squire’s return to Princess Park — while Mooroopna is looking to new coach John Lamont to steer it into a successful era. Mansfield has been hit by a mass exodus of players but write the Eagles off at your own peril — especially in the high country. There will be more GVL footballers than ever this season as well with the introduction of the Saturday under-16 competition, making for action-packed game days across the year. – TYLER MAHER

Kyabram

Wendy Lovell MP

Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Region

GOOD LUCK TO ALL CLUBS FOR THE 2020 SEASON p: (03) 5821 6668 e: wendy.lovell@parliament.vic.gov.au   /wendylovellMP Authorised by Wendy Lovell MP, 222 Wyndham Street Shepparton. Funded from Parliamentary Budget

Football and Netball 2020 7


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

BENALLA SAINTS With percentage the only thing standing between Benalla and finals last year, the Saints are making subtle and sweeping changes at Benalla Showgrounds in a bid to return to the top six. After missing finals for the first time in six years, the Saints are better positioned to push back up the ladder after retaining most of their senior squad and strengthening it by bringing in new faces. A change in leadership sees 2015 premiership Saint Jake Pallpratt return to the club as coach and player, and with him, he brings a slightly new game plan. “We’ve been working on a simple but effective game style,” Pallpratt said. “We’ve kept it pretty similar (to 2019), but we’ll be more structured with the way we play and set up. “These days teams want to play similar football. But if you know what you’re doing, as a team, as a collective, you’re going to be better off.” Bitterly missing finals following a round-18 defeat, Pallpratt granted his squad a longer preseason break, which saw “guys come back fit and eager to play again”, while the introduction

Will Martiniello

of new talent has made it more competitive for spots. Targeting must-need players, Pallpratt said the club was direct with who they approached and signed, with three names set to make an immediate impact at GVL level. “Callum Crisp is an A-grade ruckman and quality player from South Bendigo,” Pallpratt said. “Jackson Heagney-Steart is a big strong type. He’s played a bit of VFL and SANFL. “And Sam Harris played a bit of Ovens and Murray with Lavington and is a best and fairest (winner) at Holbrook. He’s a quality ball user wherever he plays. “Those three will shore us up and give us a bit of structure in the spine.” But the biggest change to the new coach’s starting line-up will be Nick Warnock’s return to attack after a stint down back, meaning Brody Webster is also likely to shift back to his own traditional defensive post.

“Nick has proven himself as a key forward over the years,” Pallpratt said. “He’s kicked 70–80 goals a season as a key forward. I think you’d be mad to play him in the back. “And Brody won a best and fairest playing across half back, so I think they pick the positions themselves.” Other players set for big years are a fit-and-firing Will Martiniello and Jordan Wolff as well as talented junior, James Davies, who has put on plenty of size as he adjusts to full-time senior football duties. In his second year at GVL level, Riley Moran is expected to step up further, while Steve Murray should have a greater impact after returning to full fitness following his shoulder injury. – MEG SAULTRY

JOINED LEAGUE: 1896 TO 1946, 1998 TO PRESENT NICKNAME: SAINTS GROUND: BENALLA SHOWGROUNDS COACH: JAKE PALLPRATT PRESIDENT: LLOYD JOHNSON PREMIERSHIPS: 1940, 2015 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: T. PASQUALI (1999), R. PRIEST (2008 JOINT), L. MORGAN (2013), W. MARTINIELLO (2014), S. MARTYN (2018 JOINT) 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (9–9) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: WILL MARTINIELLO 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BRODY WEBSTER (45)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

We’ve been working on a simple but effective game style

– JAKE PALLPRATT, COACH

Steve Murray

Brody Webster

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Jack Doidge, Zac Amarant (Benalla All Blacks), Sam Harris (Holbrook), Jake Pallpratt (Sandhurst), Callum Crisp (South Bendigo), Mark Athanitis (Strathfieldsaye), Dale Martin (Wangaratta), Jackson Heagney-Steart (Wodonga), Reed Bonat (Yarrawonga) OUT: Mitch Exton, Ben Kunkel (Barnawartha)

Jake Pallpratt

GAME CHANGER

SEASON PREDICTION

CALLUM CRISP: Fielding a strong midfield nucleus, led by Martiniello, but lacking a dominant ruckman last season, Benalla’s limited silver service around the contest was perhaps its weakest link. Bringing in Crisp will hopefully be the answer the club is looking for, and if he performs, it would yield the most reward for a team looking to compete with the best.

2ND — 6TH : Keeping its core group together and bringing new faces in on a must-need basis will no doubt strengthen Benalla’s line up. When the Saints are switched on, they are finals ready, but inconsistency in form was their downfall last year. Another season under the belt of their lesser experienced players will benefit the team and see the Saints return to finals and in contention for a third premiership.

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Football and Netball 2020 9


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

ECHUCA MURRAY BOMBERS Echuca has taken step forward after step forward in the past two seasons — but the last one it needs to take might be the biggest of all.

Andrew Walker

Only one Goulburn Valley League foe beat the Murray Bombers last year, but it just happened to be one of country football’s great teams in Kyabram, and it did beat them four different times. But the team has learned plenty from its 19-point grand final loss, and another year of experience for the league’s most exciting group of youngsters inspires belief, once again, that this could be Echuca’s year. And its local youth is indeed what Victoria Park’s finest will look to in order to close the gap to the competition’s best, rather than by hiring gun talents to try and get the side across the line. “We’ve had a lot of people say to us we could win the premiership with two or so blokes from Melbourne, but we went the opposite way because of our fantastic kids,” Echuca co-coach Simon Maddox said. “Since (fellow co-coach) Andrew (Walker) and I have been on board we’ve really trimmed back on our Melbourne players. “If they live around Echuca or are from here, it just means there’s

more locals on the track. “Our thirds have won the premiership the last two seasons and we want to create an environment that allows many of them to be part of our next senior premiership side.” It means players including Jack Evans, Joe Guiney, Will Devlin and Mitch Wales could be in the senior mix as the Murray Bombers look to find an X-factor that will rattle the champion’s cage. An exciting quartet has also joined the side; Victorian under-19 captain Logan Prout, Old Geelong midfielder Joe Couch, Palmerston captain Aaron Lonergan and tall prospect Liam Tenace all continue to build a deep list that will be a premiership contender in the foreseeable future. “We feel like we’re just as strong as last year, maybe with just a bit more of an Echuca flavour,” Maddox said. “We feel with the youngsters we can keep going back to well, we’re not just trying to nick a premiership, we’re building to try and win multiple.”

Having beaten every team in the competition and pushed to within four goals of Kyabram on grand final day, Echuca has every right to be full of confidence as it once again seeks to claim the GVL’s throne, and Maddox said motivation was sky-high without the grand final loss even being mentioned. “We haven’t really touched on it, but it spurs you on,” he said. “The thing that’s disappointing is we didn’t fire a shot or play our best. “If you play your best, you can walk off and hold your head high. “But now we’ve been there and done it, we had eight teenagers playing that day, and that’s tough compared with Kyabram’s older, experienced bigger bodies. “But even when we had injuries and were a bit busted up, we still beat every other side, and that is a far cry from a few seasons ago when all three grades missed finals.” – ALEX MITCHELL

JOINED LEAGUE: 1909 TO 1942, 1974 NICKNAME: MURRAY BOMBERS GROUND: VICTORIA PARK CO-COACHES: ANDREW WALKER AND SIMON MADDOX PRESIDENT: ASH BYRNE PREMIERSHIPS: 1977, 1979, 2001, 2002 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: S. EISHOLD (1995 JOINT), S. ORR (1997), C. SHOLL (2001), R. ARCHARD (2003 JOINT), C. DURIE (2006), K. HEIGHT (2010), S. BUCKLEY (2016–17) 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (18–4) 2019 BEST AND FAIREST: ANDREW WALKER 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DANIEL WILLIS (42)

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10 Football and Netball 2020


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

We feel like we’re just as strong as last year, maybe with just a bit more of an Echuca flavour

– SIMON MADDOX, CO–COACH

Logan Prout

Cam Valentine Ruory Kirkby

PLAYER CHANGES

GAME CHANGER

IN: Joe Couch (Old Geelong), Aaron Lonergan (Palmertson), Logan Prout (Leitchville-Gunbower), Liam Tenace (Monash Blues) OUT: Tim Allan (Murrumbeena), Riley Clarke (Strathfieldsaye), Darby Henderson (Grovedale), Ned Lanyon (Yarraville Seddon), Fraser Verhey (Moama)

ANDREW WALKER: Coming off a second outstanding season, Walker has established himself as perhaps the competition’s best player. Elite with ball in hand, able to fight his way through packs and lead his home-town club from the frontline. He has the club’s last two best and fairests.

FINISHING RANGE 1ST – 3RD: If a side is to topple Kyabram this season, it would almost certainly have to be the Murray Bombers. What has left the club has SEASON PREDICTION been replaced well, and another year of invaluable experience for the

emerging SECOND: stars Themeans Magpies thishave side strengthened will only be better. in almost Expect every to see areathem of in thethe ground grandand final. would be confident of bettering last year’s fourthplaced finish. When you add two games against each of last season’s bottom three sides it is a recipe for a double chance.

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Football and Netball 2020 11

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

EUROA MAGPIES Another strong summer period on and off the track has Scott Rowan’s men ready for another assault on the competition this season.

Jacob Brereton

If clubs were awarded grading for their recruiting, then the Magpies would be delivered an A+ for the talent they have brought in. Ranging from VFL mainstays to country football stars, Euroa has bolstered its playing list with plenty of gun talent. Headlining Euroa’s extensive list of off-season recruits is Collingwood VFL captain Jack Hellier, NEAFL talent Tristan Davies and VFL and WAFL footballer Ben Giobbi. Hellier, who has captained Collingwood for the past seven seasons, has nominated Euroa as his home club for 2020. Although the tough midfielder isn’t expected to feature in many GVL games, he is still a valuable asset for the Magpies. And Davies has accepted a contract with his former VFL club Williamstown, but is expected to bring his high-flying marks and goals to the competition when available. Giobbi, who played two games for Port Melbourne last year, will complement the Magpies’ midfield that consists of last year’s bestand-fairest winner JD Hayes.

“Having Jack, Tristan and Ben on board is a great get for the club, we are really excited to have them on board,” Rowan said. “Jack recently re-signed with Collingwood, so when he’s not playing there, he’ll be aligned to us, which is fantastic. “Tristan is aligned to Williamstown, so he is in the same boat as Jack, but we are really pleased to have players of their talents around the club.” Joining those three exciting prospects is forward option Erish Uthayakumar and running midfielder Riley Aldous, while former player Adrian Karatzas returns to beef up the defence. Uthayakumar will feature in a forward line that consists of leading goal-kicker Jett Trotter and young gun Tom Panuccio. “We wanted to add a bit of firepower up front and bolster our defence and we feel we have been able to do that,” Rowan said. “It’s great to have Adrian back and Dan (Garside) for this year, they’ll slot straight into our backline. “We feel we lost a little bit of our depth with a couple of players leaving.

“But the club’s really happy with the boys we have brought in and we feel we are in a much better spot heading into this season compared to last year.” However, Rowan did point out that an extensive list of recruits would not take the Magpies back to finals football for the first time since 2017. The second-year coach was pleased with how his players had performed across the summer period and highlighted the efforts of Giobbi and Trotter who “trained the house down” in pre-season. “The boys have had a pretty tough pre-season, but they’ve all got through really well and are starting to see the results on the track,” he said. “Jett and Ben have both had a big pre-season and Riley has been super impressive. “We are all really keen to get stuck into round one, hopefully we can get off to a good start and get some early wins.” – AYDIN PAYNE

JOINED LEAGUE: 1971 NICKNAME: MAGPIES GROUND: MEMORIAL OVAL COACH: SCOTT ROWAN PRESIDENT: SCOTT WATSON PREMIERSHIPS: 1971, 1990 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: ADAM BAKER (1998) 2019 FINISH: NINTH (6–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JD HAYES 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JETT TROTTER (38)

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12 Football and Netball 2020

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

the club’s really happy with the boys we have brought in and we feel we are in a much better spot heading into this season compared to last year

– SCOTT ROWAN, COACH

Jett Trotter

JD Hayes

PLAYER CHANGES

GAME CHANGER

IN: Ben Giobbi (Rowville), Jack Hellier (Collingwood), Erish Uthayakumar (Albury), Tristan Davies (Sydney University), Riley Aldous (Yea), Daniel Garside (St Bedes-Mentone), Liam Riley (Knox), Lachlan Cooke (La Trobe University AFC), Adrian Karatzas, John Baring (Old Melburnians), Daniel Yogarajah OUT: James Ivill, Brad Gleeson, Klay Giovannini (Murchison), Ash Hobbs (Katamatite), Jake Penman (Port Melbourne Colts)

BEN GIOBBI : Euroa has welcomed a supreme talent in Ben Giobbi. The midfield jet brings with him a wealth of experience at a high level, having played VFL level for Port Melbourne and Casey Demons and even a season in the WAFL for the Perth Demons. Like many great onballers, Giobbi can find his own football and hit the scoreboard. His presence in the midfield will take the pressure of Euroa’s other key onballers as well.

Tom Panuccio

SEASON PREDICTION 4TH — 8TH: The Magpies looked to have recruited strongly over summer, which sets them up for a tilt to play finals football in 2020. If they can get plenty of game time out of VFL players Hellier and Davies, then they could push for a top-four spot. But, going off their ninth-place finish last season, it could be too much for the Magpies to challenge for the flag in such a short turnaround.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

KYABRAM BOMBERS As Kyabram searches for a fourth Goulburn Valley League premiership in five years, the question of hunger among the playing group rears its head once more. But incoming coach Brad Edwards was happy to see any concerns he had dispelled in the fledgling stages of preparations for the upcoming campaign. “The continued motivation to be the best and to keep winning, not rest on our laurels, is a big focus,” Edwards said. “The talent isn’t just going to get us there; we need to keep working hard. “I suppose there’s always that worry that you’re going to drop off with the hunger and the motivation, but so far they’ve attacked the pre-season as hard as ever and really put that to bed early.” Leading the charge is Tom Sheldon, impressing not just Edwards but the remainder of the list as well. “Tom is one who’s as fit as ever, he’ll captain the side alongside Morgs (Jason Morgan) this year, and for a guy like him who has achieved so much in his career to be flying at this time of the year is really impressive,” Edwards said. “It’s good to have one of the older guys go back to the well and find something extra, he’s really led the way on that.

Kyle Mueller

“It’s pleasing, and something the boys can really look up to.” Other Bombers in supreme shape include Jason Morgan and Cade Mueller — both on whom missed out on last year’s flag. “Cade has been training really well, he’ll slot into our backline as a small defender this season,” Edwards said. “There’s a bit more motivation there for him because he missed out in finals the year before as well. “Jase is looking as fit as he has for a long time, a guy of his calibre is a massive inclusion for a side that’s just won a flag, he’s a brilliant asset.” The summer of recruiting has been a quiet one for the Bombers with Jake Reeves and Aaron Hayes moving on and Josh Vick taking a step back, while Eaglehawk’s Jarryd Pertzel and the returning Sean Dillon come into the squad. But Edwards is again looking for growth from within at Kyabram Recreation Reserve. “I think most times you’re happy to get one or two guys out of the thirds who can walk straight into senior footy, and I think we’re

in a pretty good position this year where we’ve got three or four that are good enough,” he said. “Then you look at guys like Zac Norris, Brad Whitford, Kyle Mueller and Tom Holman who are all still early twenties or younger and there’s always improvement there.” And as for his first foray into coaching, Edwards will not be reinventing the wheel which Paul Newman handed over to him at the end of last season. “Nothing’s going to change drastically, I’m not here to change a winning formula,” he said. “I’ve probably enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to. Going in, maybe I was a little bit unsure if it was the right thing to be doing, but I’m enjoying it. “Paul Burnett is coming on as assistant coach, he’s been a massive influence — he’s got so much knowledge and experience — and he has been at every training and is a massive help for me. “I think the boys are enjoying having a fresh voice around the group, too.” –TYLER MAHER

JOINED LEAGUE: 1894 NICKNAME: BOMBERS GROUND: KYABRAM RECREATION RESERVE COACH: BRAD EDWARDS PRESIDENT: PETER LEARMONTH PREMIERSHIPS: 1919, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1948, 1950, 1958, 1975, 1996, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: J. COOPER (1958, 1961), C. STEWART (1963), R. CLAY (1964), P. GITTOS (1987), B. GUGLIOTTI (1993), M. MATTINGLY (2019) 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (21–0) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: MICK MATTINGLY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: KYLE MUELLER (75)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

The talent isn’t just going to get us there; we need to keep working hard

– BRAD EDWARDS, COACH

Brad Edwards

Brad Whitford

Kyabram celebrates another premiership

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Jarryd Pertzel (Eaglehawk), Sean Dillon OUT: Jake Reeves (Girgarre), Aaron Hayes (Nullawil)

GAME CHANGER KYLE MUELLER: It is easy to forget that Mueller is still in his early twenties. The electric forward has 190 goals in the past three seasons alone for the Bombers — and 209 at senior level — and it is not a stretch to think that he might crack the ton this year. When a player of his calibre is getting the second-best opposition small most weeks, it is a recipe for carnage.

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1ST – 2ND: It is almost a moot point to give Kyabram a finishing range — the Bombers should land another Goulburn Valley League minor premiership this season. As always though, it is what happens after that which matters, and there will be plenty of sides confident they can give Kyabram a red-hot battle in September.

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Football and Netball 2020 15


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

MANSFIELD EAGLES With a list of outs reading longer than Lord of the Rings, it is fair to say expectations are not sky-high at Mansfield this season.

Harry Mahoney

The Eagles entered 2019 full of confidence under new coach Andrew Browne but missed the mark with just six wins — and considering they have lost 140 senior games of experience from last year alone, it could be a tough campaign. Among the outs are established talents such as Lachie Christopher, Brant Anselmi and Tom German, and Browne did not shy away from the club’s change of expectations after what he labelled “a bit of a mass exodus”. “To be honest it’s been quite tough. We’ve had a fair few players walk out, which is unfortunate; there’s no specific reason, probably a multitude of reasons,” he said. “In terms of recruiting, we just haven’t had a favourable time, it’s hard to pitch guys on coming when you’ve had a few blokes leave. “We’ve got a good young group, the position we were in at the end of last season I was hoping for a promising 2020, but at that point I wasn’t banking on our players leaving. “So, the focus shifts to developing our younger guys in the right way. There might be some tough

times but we need to generate some enthusiasm and compete.” The Eagles have managed to add project key defender Tom Burley, who brings NAB League experience from the Oakleigh Chargers, while former player Ashraf Davies has also been cleared back to the high country after a year with Lilydale. Browne said lessons had been learned from last season’s performance, hinting that a degree of arrogance had prevented the side from giving its all on the training track, something that had been addressed this pre-season. “Despite us being more senior last season, we probably took things for granted. I think we thought there was enough talent, but you have to work for it, and the young kids are embracing that,” he said. “Our skill execution was not where it needed to be, and despite everything that’s happened, some of the kids have got better kicking skills than what we had last season. “We’re training at a better standard which is good, and one thing we learned was how important it is to be able to kick the footy.

You start turning the ball over and you know what happens then.” The side retains the services of guns such as Brett Mahoney, who remains one of the league’s elite midfielders, while James Lawton slotted 49 goals last season. But the next generation is emerging; Browne encouraged fans to keep an eye on former Murray Bushranger Harry Mahoney in a wing-half-forward role, while he hoped Tyler Chisholm would continue to make an impact in midfield time. Forecasting the season was tough for Browne, but all he asked was that his troops dug in. “We don’t want to get blown out every week; not letting that happen would be a good step forward because it is a challenge how a young group responds if it is blown out a couple of times early in the season,” he said. “The goal will be to stay in games, fight the fight and dig our heels in.” – ALEX MITCHELL

JOINED LEAGUE: 1998 NICKNAME: EAGLES GROUND: MANSFIELD RECREATION RESERVE COACH: ANDREW BROWNE PRESIDENT: BELINDA DE MARIA PREMIERSHIPS: 2004, 2009 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: T. HOTTON (2007) 2019 FINISH: EIGTH (6–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ANDREW BROWNE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JAMES LAWTON (49)

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16 Football and Netball 2020


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

Despite us being more senior last season, we probably took things for granted. I think we thought there was enough talent, but you have to work for it, and the young kids are embracing that.

– ANDREW BROWNE, COACH

Brett Mahoney

Patty Marks

Andrew Browne

PLAYER CHANGES

GAME CHANGER

SEASON PREDICTION

IN: Ashraf Davies (Lilydale), Tom Burley (St Kevin’s Old Boys) OUT: Brant Anselmi, Tom Gardiner, Jack O’Grady, Josh Stefanutti (Knox), Ryan Bartlett, Lachie Christopher, Tom German (Bacchus Marsh), Al Bennett, Will Foster, Guy Murray (Bonnie Doon), Brent Rose

BRETT MAHONEY: Clearly in the league’s top handful of players, when Mahoney is in full flight, he takes some stopping. The Eagles will need someone to provide a cool head and leadership this season and Mahoney is certainly the man to do it.

10TH – 12TH: There is no doubt Mansfield is destined for a tough season, but do not expect the young Eagles to throw in the towel without a fight. They still have some gun talents like Browne, Marks and Mahoney, but if you take that much talent out of any side they will struggle.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

MOOROOPNA CATS There is going to be a big emphasis on the local community at Mooroopna for the upcoming season, according to incoming coach John Lamont.

Tom Crosbie

In an age where many country clubs look to recruiting to boost their fortunes, Mooroopna is targeting its local roots. Lamont — a former senior coach of Werribee’s VFL outfit — brings with him a wealth of football experience and knowledge that he is ready to share with those at the Cattery. “Our theme at the club is to be locally relevant, we want a strong connection to the area,” Lamont said. “Cody Vincitorio is a local guy that is really keen to develop as a coach and he is going to handle the reserves, while former player Brendan Macartney has returned to steer the thirds. “I think that it’s really important for a country club to have strong ties with the community. “Isn’t that what country football is all about?” And that local connection has flowed through to the playing personnel at the Cats in 2020, with Mooroopna and Lamont opting to focus on the club’s junior ranks.

Mooroopna will look to blood more senior appearances into a pack of youngsters from last year’s under-18s preliminary final side. Dom Gugliotti, Isaac Dowling, Jai Carn, Nathan Basile, Darcy Russell, James Nethersole, Bailey Whittaker and Ky Johnston are eight players that supporters can expect to see more of this season. A coach of Lamont’s stature could have easily brought talented players to the area, however, the former NAB League coach revealed he did not want to damage the growth of the club’s gifted juniors. “There was a belief when I signed last year that I would bring a truckload of new foreign players to the club,” he said. “But we have gone the other way, I’ve really wanted to focus on the good crop of under-18s at the club. “There are eight to 10 boys that have had a taste of senior football and aspire to play at that level, and I need to support them to reach their goal. “And they have all had great pre-seasons and responded strongly to what we have worked

on, which is great to see.” In terms of list changes, the Cats have welcomed back former bestand-fairest winner Dean Smith and former players Jake Crosbie and Alex Gugliotti. Unfortunately, Mooroopna has lost last year’s award winner Kyle Gray, who has found his way back onto a VFL list, while key-forward Hudson Thomas has departed for work commitments. Lamont revealed he was looking forward to working on the groundwork laid by former coach Dale Osborne during the past four seasons and said he could not wait to tackle the challenge that lay ahead. “We are building on the solid work put in by Dale Osborne from the past couple of seasons,” he said. “The group finished 2019 off with plenty of positivity and they have carried that through to pre-season. “It has been really enjoyable at a personal level and I’m looking forward to the season beginning.” – AYDIN PAYNE

JOINED LEAGUE: 1894 NICKNAME: CATS GROUND: MOOROOPNA RECREATION RESERVE COACH: JOHN LAMONT PRESIDENT: BILL DOWLING PREMIERSHIPS: 1894, 1895, 1896, 1907, 1923, 1924, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1985, 1986 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: L. DWYER (1936), B. MCCARTY (1962), R. WILLETT (1965, 1967, 1968), D. BUX (1972, 1973), G. SAUNDERS (1977), B. OUGH (1979), G. COOPER (1983, 1985), M. BLAKE (2012) 2019 FINISH: 11TH (4–14) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: KYLE GRAY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: HUDSON THOMAS (36)

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18 Football and Netball 2020


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

I think that it’s really important for a country club to have strong ties with the community. Isn’t that what country football is all about?

– JOHN LAMONT, COACH

Dean Smith

Kai Madgwick

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Dean Smith (Nullawil), Alex Gugliotti, Jake Crosbie OUT: Kyle Gray (St Joseph’s), Hudson Thomas (work commitments)

Bayden Fallon

GAME CHANGER

SEASON PREDICTION

DEAN SMITH: A huge inclusion to the Cats is onballer Dean Smith, who comes back to his former clubs after two years away in the Golden Rivers Football League. The former club best-andfairest winner starred at Nullawill, winning back-to-back premierships and best-and-fairest awards. His attack on the ball will set the standard for the younger players coming through and suit the Cats’ tough midfield brigade.

6TH — 12TH: In John Lamont’s first season as coach, expect to see a lot of development and emphasis on Mooroopna’s young emerging talents. The Cats will have their ups and downs like any young outfit and their main focus come season end will to have laid down the foundations for the upcoming seasons.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

ROCHESTER TIGERS Rochester was slow out of the blocks last season in the Goulburn Valley League, losing its first four matches of the campaign. That the Tigers still managed to make finals — and win one — shows the supreme resilience of the boys from Moon Oval.

Nathan Marrone

Couple that with a strong contingent of top-line talent reeled in over summer — spearheaded by new coach Steven Stroobants — and sprinkle with some young bodies primed for a breakout year and you have the makings of a premiership list. “I enjoyed my two years down in Melbourne and learnt a lot from some great coaches,” Stroobants said. “Hopefully I can try and implement some of that this year, and the boys seem to be enjoying it so far. “I think the chasing pack can close the gap on Ky (Kyabram), from what you hear at this time of year anyway. “Everyone wants to be like Ky I guess, and over the last two or three or four years everyone has picked up a few things.” Stroobants takes over at the Rochester helm from the departing James Flaherty — who will leave as much of a hole in defence

as he will in the leadership of the club — and as well as also attracting hard-nut Dillon Williams back to the Tigers has added fresh star power in Jordan and Lachie Harper. VFL gun Chris Jansen will call Moon Oval his second home as well when not required with Port Melbourne. “We’re really looking forward to it, we’ve got an exciting group and it’s looking really positive,” Stroobants said. “Chris Jansen is with Port Melbourne so we probably won’t see him very much. He was captain when I was at North Melbourne. He lives with Jordy and Lachie and hopefully we can get him up a bit. “We had an intraclub and about six under-18 players really put their hand up and played some important roles, which is promising. “The likes of Wil Hamilton, Blake Evans, Andy Henderson and these sort of guys have had really big pre-seasons this year and if we’re

going to push up from fourth and have a real crack at it these are the sorts of boys who are going to be important.” Rhys Free, James McPhee and Brodie Montague are among the other exits for the Tigers, but with Doug Wren the only slight injury concern throughout the latter stages of the pre-season it may be the club’s depth which is its greatest asset this year. “We’ve probably got 30 to 32 guys who are pretty comfortable senior GV footballers,” Stroobants said. “Obviously after your first choice 21 or 22 you need that next level of depth to really keep the pressure on. “Doug is still a bit sore on his leg but otherwise everyone’s feeling great, we’ve had a really good pre-season and we can’t wait to get into it.” —TYLER MAHER

JOINED LEAGUE: 1913 TO 1914, 1973 TO PRESENT NICKNAME: TIGERS GROUND: MOON OVAL COACH: STEVEN STROOBANTS PRESIDENT: JEFF BRIGHT PREMIERSHIPS: 1914, 1992, 1999, 2008 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: M. KEENAN (1988), P. MORGAN (1994), G. CAMPBELL (2011), A. WATSON (2015) 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (11–9) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: NATHAN MARRONE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: LIAM BARTELS (38)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

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GAME CHANGER

Doug Wren

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STEVEN STROOBANTS: Not only will Stroobants bring a fresh voice at the helm of Rochester this season, he will also boost the side’s attacking prowess as soon as he sets foot on Moon Oval. Played one game for eight majors last campaign but had 247 goals in the four years prior. The best small defenders struggle to bring the ball to ground against him and the best tall backs cannot keep up.

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RO Dillon Williams Steven Stroobants

FINISHING RANGE

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Chris Jansen (Port Melbourne), Jordan Harper (Canberra), Lachie Harper (Collegians), Dillon Williams (Eaglehawk) OUT: James Flaherty (Kangaroo Flat), Rhys Free (Cohuna Kangas), James McPhee, Harrison McPhee (Lockington-Bamawm), Brodie Montague (Sandhurst), Leigh Millard (Murrabit)

2ND – 5TH: Rochester should be a strong finals contender with the list new coach Steven Stroobants has put together, which included topping up with A-grade talent and nurturing rising stars. The loss of defensive general James Flaherty will hurt but watch for the Tigers to be more attacking this campaign with Stroobants back as the focal point up forward.

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Football and Netball 2020 21


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

SEYMOUR LIONS Facing a myriad of moving parts this off-season, the prospect of going backwards isn’t one Seymour is willing to accept.

Jason Cole

After returning to the final series last year, the Lions’ path to the top six was at times flimsy — their effort against lower-ranked sides failed to compare to that of playing higher rivals, while three one-point victories were their saving grace that pushed them into flag contention. But with a loss of talent and depth this year, Seymour will need to solidify its stocks to make sure it features in September action. “Definitely we’re not looking to go backwards,” co-coach Ben Clifton said. “We were able to play finals last year, which we should have done, and we probably should have finished higher too.” The addition of Ben Davey as co-coach will be crucial to Seymour’s success, with a more disciplined style of play set to come into effect.

“I think for us, with Ben coming in as a full-time non-playing coach, and with his knowledge, we’ll be much more structured on field, which will improve the inconsistencies in our game,” Clifton said. “That’s what will help us start our offence and defend in a more structured way. “We’re not just relying on talent and this is a springboard to allow our players to play better and attack in a more methodical way.” But in a blow to their on-field prospects, star midfielder Jason Cole is likely to suffer a delayed start to the year, with an elbow injury continuing to plague the club’s reigning best-andfairest winner. “Jase is looking to play, but life and earning money come first,” Clifton said. “He needs to get his arm right, then footy is a bonus.

He is impatient, so we’ve had to almost send him away to get right first. He’s unlikely to play early.” With the club losing a considerable amount of depth from its premiership-winning reserves squad, the large influx of last year’s under-18 talent, who’ll filter up to reserves and seniors, meant the Lions didn’t recruit too heavily this off-season. Among the group are highly rated prospects Dylan Cook, Hudson Kaak and Sam Durham, who have all been training with Richmond’s VFL team this pre-season. “Numbers-wise with our under-18 talent, we didn’t need to go out and recruit wingers and flankers,” Clifton said. “We just needed to make sure we’re a bit taller across the field.” – MEG SAULTRY

JOINED LEAGUE: 1940; 1976 TO PRESENT NICKNAME: LIONS GROUND: KINGS PARK CO-COACHES: BEN CLIFTON AND BEN DAVEY PRESIDENT: GERARD O’SULLIVAN PREMIERSHIPS: 1976, 1981, 1982, 1991, 2005, 2006, 2007 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: C. FROELICH (1940), G. LIDDELL (1978), J. SOLOMON (1989), S. SCHOTTNER (2004) 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (9–9–1) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JASON COLE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JAKE ANDERSON (29)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

We were able to play finals last year, which we should have done, and we probably should have finished higher too

– BEN CLIFTON, CO-COACH

Zac Keogh

Kier Bol

Kyle Winter-Irving

PLAYER CHANGES

GAME CHANGER

SEASON PREDICTION

IN: Ryley Conlan (VAFA), Nick Davey (VAFA), Tom Davey (VAFA), Tom Goodwin (AFL Outer East) OUT: Michael Bradbury (Golden Rivers), Chris Jackson (NFNL), Alex Johnson (WRFL), Tom Martin (Avenel), James Wooster (RDFL), Jordan Zuccala (Avenel), Max Jones (Avenel), Harley Taylor-Lloyd (Benalla All Blacks), Mitch Mclean (Heathcote District), Matt Martin (Nagambie), Tyler Clarke, Rhys Clarke (EDFL)

ZAC KEOGH: Faced with the prospect of losing partner in crime Jason Cole for part of the season, Keogh — in his second campaign with the club — will need to step up and carry the load through the middle. He’ll have support in the likes of Dylan Scopel and Tom Freeman, but it’s Keogh’s experience as an interleague player and Vic Country representative that will help a younger Lions brigade work through their toughest match-ups.

5TH — 9TH: Seymour was on the edge of several close results last year and if just one of those one-point wins went the other way, a return to finals would have been off the cards. If the Lions can’t muster the same pressure they do in high-stake games to those they should be winning comfortably, they’ll fall out of reach of the top-six. But if they can shore up their consistency issues and cover their depth then Seymour will finish around the same mark as last year.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

SHEPPARTON BEARS Shepparton is hoping the return of a club legend as coach can stop it sliding out of the Goulburn Valley League’s elite category. A string of outs, including the exits of 2018 premiership players Joel Brett, Liam Duguid, Ash Holland, Matt Ryan and David Stretton, plus talented youngsters like Cam Wild and Hugo Ingham, mean the Bears are scrambling to avoid starting from scratch. With Lachie Ash also departing the club to Greater Western Sydney, now 11 members of the premiership side are gone — in essence, this is not the same side that upset Kyabram in the famous 2018 flag. “We have lost a few players, but that just gives opportunities to others, doesn’t it?” New co-coach Ramadan Yze said. “There’s players stepping out of the thirds, but also guys that might go up and down between seniors and reserves. We’re looking at bringing in a couple of other players too, but we can’t say too much about that at this stage.” At the time of writing, the Bears were unable to confirm any additions to the side outside of Footscray VFL-listed Nathan Drummond, who brings five AFL games and bulk VFL experience to the side should he be available

Anthony Andronaco

to play GVL football. A notable inclusion is that of co-coach Sam Ahmet, with the premiership Bear bringing a lengthy resume back to his home club that includes coaching at Rumbalara, Katandra and Shepparton East, where he won three premierships as a player. Yze also brings nearly 200 GVL games of experience and four years coaching Katandra to the role. “(Ahmet) loves being back, it’s his home, he’s played nearly 200 games there,” Yze said. “But I think the club in general is really enjoying having him back, he’s got a wealth of knowledge from all his coaching, and he’s passing all he can on.” And nurturing the next generation will be vital as the Bears look to regenerate on the fly — although their youngsters showed themselves to be top-notch last season. Orien Kerr impressed to the point he earned a North Melbourne VFL contract despite no NAB League football, while Jayden Gagliardi and Matt and Andy Pellegrino also caught the eye. “It’s all of those guys, and then

you throw in guys like Jordan Cox and Sam Drummond,” Yze said. “But even the older blokes, your Mitch Bretts and Rowan Hiscock, they haven’t missed a beat, Nick Allan has been down and the leadership guys like him are giving is unreal. It’s a pretty good mix so far.” While the group will be young, the Bears retain some of the competition’s top talents; Anthony Andronaco established himself as a GVL elite with a 45-goal bestand-fairest-winning 2019, Mitch Brett remains a star defender, and Nick Allan brings legendary experience. Yze called on the established players to set the tone as the group looks to play finals for a fifth straight year. “We just need them to lead by example, do the right things and create good habits,” he said. “That can just be as simple as in a kicking drill, doing it properly and showing the others there is something to get out of it. “We’d be silly not to say we want to play finals, there’s no point being in the game if you’re not aiming for that.” —ALEX MITCEHLL

JOINED LEAGUE: 1894 NICKNAME: BEARS GROUND: DEAKIN RESERVE CO-COACHES: SAM AHMET AND RAMADAN YZE PRESIDENT: WILL PHILLIPS PREMIERSHIPS: 1899, 1903, 1906, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1920, 1925, 1929, 1934, 1952, 1957, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2018 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: E. JAMES (1935–37), J. DALGLEISH (1960), D. CODE (1980–81), G. REESE (1982 JOINT), S. ASH (2000, 2003 JOINT), M. BYERS (2005), N. ROKAHR (2018 JOINT) 2019 FINISH: THIRD (13–8) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ANTHONY ANDRONACO 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ANTHONY ANDRONACO (45)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

We just need them to lead by example, do the right things and create good habits

Mitch Brett

Nick Allan

PLAYER CHANGES

GAME CHANGER

IN: Nathan Drummond (Old Melburnians) OUT: Tyler Bell (Glenroy), Joel Brett, Liam Duguid (Golden Square), Ash Holland (Waaia), Hugo Ingham (Congupna), Matt Ryan (Strathmerton), David Stretton (Ocean Grove), Tom Thorsen (Barooga), Cam Wild (Shepparton United)

– RAMADAN YZE, CO-COACH

ANTHONY ANDRONACO : He hasn’t reached his footballing prime yet, but Andronaco already boasts a glowing footballing resume — 95 goals in 79 senior games, premiership-winning goals and a best and fairest. Among the league’s handful of most dangerous forwards, but also has the ability to swing into the midfield and impact contests.

Orien Kerr

SEASON PREDICTION 6TH — 9TH: It is impossible to note the Bears’ long list of outs and not expect they will fall off the pace somewhat — more than half the premiership team has gone, but even emerging talents like Cam Wild and Tom Thorsen have left. If the young group is ready, then the Bears will be ready to go again, but that appears a big ask at this stage.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

SHEPPARTON SWANS After multiple seasons tinkering with their product, the Shepparton Swans look ready to spread their wings in 2020. The Swans have spent the past three seasons anchored at the bottom of the Goulburn Valley League ladder and with their next crop of juniors on the rise, this season could see them unshackle themselves from the base of the ladder. “We have been very happy with how the summer has been,” Shepparton Swans coach Paul Hawke said. “Last year I always felt that we were closer to the six than the ladder showed. “And the club has been able to maintain most of the list, there are a couple of changes, but we feel like we are heading in the right direction.” In player movements, the club has lost Darby Walsh, Rob Staff, Jared Service and Ryan Pfeiffer; however it has acquired former players Matt Keys, Jessie Finnen

BJ Squire

and Tom Campbell. One of the biggest names to return is former club champion BJ Squire, who has spent the past two seasons at Congupna. The silky mover has snared five straight club best-and-fairest awards and will complement the Swans’ engine room which involves Quade Johnstone, Tom Preece and youngster Luke Whyte. “BJ’s record speaks for itself really, he’s a quality footballer,” Hawke said. “He is a very good runner and user of the ball and it’s great to have him back. “And we are excited to have Jessie, Tom and Matty return, they will help share the workload and we’ll rely on their experience to continue to help the younger guys.” Even though the club has spent recent years glued to the bottom,

it has allowed Hawke to blood younger players such as Whyte, Nathan Rachele, Ty Collison, Zac Alderton, Rylen Damianopoulos and Lachlan McMahon. Hawke spoke glowingly of his club’s rising stars and highlighted that the young crop of emerging talent had impressed him during the summer period. “It is more of a collective group of them, really,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing them this year, they have stepped up their fitness and worked hard on their running games over summer. “Now they should be able to make a lot more contests, but there is still more hard work to do.” – AYDIN PAYNE

JOINED LEAGUE: 1946 (AS LEMNOS FOOTBALL CLUB) NICKNAME: SWANS GROUND: PRINCESS PARK COACH: PAUL HAWKE PRESIDENT: JARROD SUTHERLAND PREMIERSHIPS: 1959, 1960, 1970, 2014 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: B. TYQUIN (1949), R. ORRMAN (1951, 1954, 1959), N. SMITH (1975), M. LAMBOURN (1996), ALL AS LEMNOS; J. SUTHERLAND (2002), B. DURBRIDGE (2009) AS SHEPPARTON SWANS 2019 FINISH: 12TH (3–14–1) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: TOM PREECE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ROB STAFF (21)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

Last year I always felt that we were closer to the six than the ladder showed

– PAUL HAWKE, COACH

Tom Preece

GAME CHANGER BJ SQUIRE : The return of arguably one the region’s best midfielders in Squire is a massive win for the Swans. The classy midfielder joins the club where he claimed three straight best-and-fairest awards after taking out Congupna’s past two top gongs in 2018 and 2019. The smooth mover will complement an already stacked midfield involving Tom Preece, Quade Johnstone, Luke Whyte and many more.

Zac Alderton Luke Whyte

SEASON PREDICTION

PLAYER CHANGES IN: BJ Squire (Congupna), Matt Keys (AFLNT), Jessie Finnen (Doncaster), Tom Campbell (Shepparton United), Russell Eden (Katandra) OUT: Darby Walsh (Picola United), Rob Staff (Goorambat), Ryan Pfeiffer (Shepparton East), Jared Service (Norwood)

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6TH — 10TH : The Swans showcased last season that they had what it takes to go up against most opposition clubs in the Goulburn Valley League, with their three wins and one draw close to being five or six wins. If two or three clubs that finished above the Swans drop away, it opens the possibility of climbing the ladder.

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

SHEPPARTON UNITED DEMONS Shepparton United is primed to challenge for a place in Goulburn Valley League finals action this season. The Demons have welcomed a host of top-line inclusions to Deakin Reserve under new coach Rob Osborne — with 157-game AFL veteran Brock McLean the headline-grabber — and will look to play an exciting new brand of football. “We’re very pleased with the players that we’ve picked up,” Osborne said. “It’s created a lot of excitement among the playing group especially — it’s a positive sign that we can bring these types of blokes in. “Pre-season has been very good to date. Obviously, I’ve got different ideas about style and structure, so we’ve worked on that a lot. “With the players we’ve recruited I think we have more of an option to play a free-flowing and attacking style of football. “Hopefully it will be a lot more enjoyable not just as a playing group but for the supporters as well. “It’s important for them to come down and watch a high brand of competitive footy. “We want the football club being a place people want to be. If you’re enjoying yourself people want to be there and come there, and obviously any success we can have

Mitch Cleeland

will help that too.” Osborne is new to the non-playing coach caper and is enjoying the change of scenery. “Coaching from the sidelines is totally different to what I’m used to; my last few roles have been as a playing coach,” he said. “To be able to step back and guide them and not have to worry about myself has been great. “Now I can pick up things and pull players aside if I need to, I’m really enjoying the different outlook.” And what Osborne is picking up is that McLean is going to make his mark on the GVL in a show-stopping way. “Brock’s in elite condition at the moment, he’s hitting all of his running times and they’re of an elite standard, he’s in extremely good shape,” Osborne said. “He’s looking forward to testing himself in GV footy. He’s also a huge inclusion for our leadership in the group and out on the field; everyone will learn from him.” Among the other inclusions to the side are Nagambie’s Blake and Nathan Fothergill, as well as Waaia’s Mitch Cleeland. The likes of Michael Barlow

(Werribee), Angus Hicks, Kyle Clarke (Richmond), Zane Barzen, Jesse Cucinotta (Box Hill) and Cam Wild (Northern Blues) have also committed to turning out for the Demons when VFL duties allow. “The Fothergills are going to be stars for us, and guys like a young and exciting tall in Mitch Cleeland or a Mitch Roche — who played 16 senior games as a bottom-age thirds player last year — are creating a lot of excitement and will have a huge influence on how our season pans out,” Osborne said. There have been a handful of departures from the senior side — including Tim Looby, Ben Bingham and Matt Di Bella — but Osborne has confidence in the squad at his disposal. “It’s always sad to see players go who have been here so long, but it’s hard to keep players when a side has been down for a while,” he said. “They hear the same story every year about recruiting and improving and eventually move on. “But I think we’ve shown with the recruiting and committee we’ve put in place that we’re on the right track.” – TYLER MAHER

JOINED LEAGUE: 1950 NICKNAME: DEMONS GROUND: DEAKIN RESERVE COACH: ROB OSBORNE PRESIDENT: MATT CHILCOTT PREMIERSHIPS: 1954, 1955, 1956, 1962, 1967, 1974, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1989, 2010, 2011 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: J. WILLIAMS (1984), P. FOOTT (1992) 2019 FINISH: 10TH (5–13) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: SHANE NEAVES 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKERS: JACK NORMAN AND TIM LOOBY (20)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

With the players we’ve recruited I think we have more of an option to play a free-flowing and attacking style of football

– ROB OSBORNE, COACH

Blake Fothergill

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Brock McLean (Doncaster East), Cam Wild (Shepparton), Blake Fothergill, Nathan Fothergill (Nagambie), Mitch Cleeland (Waaia) OUT: Tim Looby (Strathmerton), Ben Bingham, Matt Di Bella (Nathalia), Beau Caia (Tallygaroopna), Cam Calder, Jack Caia, Fraser Hicks (Katandra)

Brock McLean

GAME CHANGER BROCK MCLEAN: The veteran of 157 AFL games with Melbourne and Carlton is by all reports in supreme condition heading into his first Goulburn Valley League foray. Not only will McLean provide plenty of firepower on the field for the Demons, he will add outstanding experience to a young group and impart plenty of wisdom on those around him.

Shane Neaves

SEASON PREDICTION 6TH — 9TH: Shepparton United can certainly make finals this season, but even if it does not it will be competitive across the year. Bringing in star power like Brock McLean — as well as a host of exciting young talents ready to post breakout GVL seasons — is a recipe for success.

Football and Netball 2020 29


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

TATURA BULLDOGS Supporters of Tatura will be glad to see the back of an injury riddled 2019 season when their beloved Bulldogs embark on a new campaign in the coming weeks. There was plenty of hype before last year had begun for Tatura, with the outfit boasting one of the most potent midfields in the entire Goulburn Valley League. But disaster struck when dual best-and-fairest winner and co-captain Mitch Elliott suffered a knee injury in the opening round of the season and the medical ward only grew from that point onwards. Many will be hoping for a fresh start when the season kicks off in a matter of weeks. With a new season upon us, supporters of the Bulldogs will also spend the first games familiarising themselves with a new-look outfit that welcomes new and old faces. And there is a change at the helm, too, with Daniels moving to the Wangaratta Magpies, which has opened the door for long-time club favourite Paul Kirby to take on the reins. Kirby, a 254-game veteran and dual premiership player at the Bulldogs, said he hoped the off-season changes would not impact the work put in during the past seasons.

Sean Martin

“We don’t want to drop off this season, we have made some great progress in the past couple of years,” Kirby said. “We’ve had some slight changes at the club, but we are really happy with how we are travelling. “And fingers crossed we don’t get a bad run with injuries like we did last season.” Looking at list changes, the Bulldogs have waved goodbye to star midfielder Matt Shannon, Jason Tutt, James Sullivan, Jayden Thewma and Charlie Hill. However, promising talent Jimmy Boyer returns to his junior club from Congupna and Nathalia gun Bailey Bell has shifted to the kennel after a string of premierships in the Murray Football League. Boyer, who has signed with VFL outfit North Melbourne, claimed the Murray Bushrangers’ best-andfairest medal last season in his final year with the NAB League club. And 2012 premiership players Tom Sullivan and Chris Ryan have returned to bolster the spine, while speedy forward Michael Archer is back after a stint at Dunnstown.

Meanwhile, a versatile big-bodied midfielder has landed at the kennel, with former NEAFL footballer Kirk Mahon joining the club. “We are really happy with the talent that we have been able to bring in for this season,” Kirby said. “Jimmy has signed at VFL level, so we are not sure how many games we will get from him, but he’s an exciting prospect. “He has been on the track over summer and looks super fit, and he’s a great kid, too.” Kirby highlighted that he was aiming to blood experience into the club’s budding juniors this season, with Morrie Serra, George Brisbane and Matt Rennie ready to take the next step. “The club has got a couple of talented juniors coming through that will look to cement themselves at senior level,” he said. “We have got a good mix of players in our side and everyone is excited to see where the year takes us.” – AYDIN PAYNE

JOINED LEAGUE: 1894 NICKNAME: BULLDOGS GROUND: TATURA PARK COACH: PAUL KIRBY PRESIDENT: JOHN MAHER PREMIERSHIPS: 1898, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1904, 1905, 1952, 1953, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2012 MORRISON MEDALLISTS: W. PRITCHARD (1947), J. GREENWOOD (1969, 1970), N. SMITH (1974), T. ESLER (1995 JOINT) 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (11–1–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JAMASON DANIELS 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: NICK FOTHERGILL (35)

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GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Jimmy Boyer (Congupna), Tom Sullivan, Chris Ryan (Heidelberg), Bailey Bell (Nathalia), Michael Archer (Dunnstown), Kirk Mahon (University Blues), Tom Durward (Undera), Rob Kirby (Sandhurst), Kade Gall OUT: Jamason Daniels, Charlie Hill (Wangaratta Rovers), Matt Shannon (Balwyn), James Sullivan (Strathmore), Jason Tutt (AFL Canberra), Jayden Thewma (Nathalia)

Nick Fothergill

Brandyn Grenfell Jimmy Boyer

SEASON PREDICTION

GAME CHANGER NICK FOTHERGILL: The classy midfielder showcased last season that he was one player to stop when opposition teams fronted travelled to Tatura Park. Fothergill booted a team-high 35 goals playing as a midfielder-forward and broke games apart with his ability to find the ball at an explosive rate and hit the scoreboard. However, the classy onballer is back at VFL outfit Williamstown for the upcoming season which may limit his appearances in the red, white and blue.

4TH — 8TH : Last season the Bulldogs were cruelled by injury, with the side rarely able to field its strongest list at one time due to a long list of injuries. Can a healthy list make a serious assault on the premiership and rival the competition’s heavyweights? Another factor to consider is whether the holes left from Jamason Daniels, Matt Shannon and Jason Tutt can be filled by the new crop of players coming in.

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Football and Netball 2020 31


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

LADDER PREDICTION 1: Shepparton United 2: Seymour 3: Echuca 4: Shepparton Swans 5: Mooroopna 6: Shepparton 7: Kyabram 8: Benalla 9: Euroa 10: Rochester 11: Mansfield 12: Tatura

PAST PREMIERS Seymour

WHICH TEAM HAS THE EDGE? It looks as if you can again throw a blanket over the top sides in the Goulburn Valley League netball ranks, with little separating those in the premiership window once more. Seymour will defend its hard-earned crown with plenty of might, but the likes of Shepparton United, Echuca and Mooroopna are coming fast for the title. The Murray Bombers have been clear in that intent, with new coach Steph Vick stating further along in this magazine that “we are going for a premiership”, while the Demons will again be one of the toughest sides to match up on across the court. Maddie Wong is back for the Cats and will relish resuming her role next to defensive pillar Ash Lancaster, giving the side a clear edge heading into the season. Shepparton and the Shepparton Swans will expect to play

finals as well, but will have to fight off strong challenges from an improved squad out of Benalla and a healthy one in Kyabram. Euroa could be a massive mover this season after recruiting Ovens and Murray Netball League experience, while Rochester, Mansfield and Tatura will again rely heavily on youth to carry the torch this campaign. – TYLER MAHER

2019: Seymour 2018: Echuca 2017: Kyabram 2016: Kyabram 2015: Seymour 2014: Shepparton United 2013: Shepparton Swans 2012: Kyabram 2011: Kyabram 2010: Shepparton United

WELLMAN FAMILY MEDALLISTS 2019: Jessie Barnes (Shepparton United) 2018: Emma Ryan (Tatura) 2017: Steph Vick (Kyabram) 2016: Steph Vick (Kyabram) 2015: Elle McDonald (Seymour) 2014: Jacinta Todd (Shepparton) 2013: Jade Heinrich (Mansfield) 2012: Ash Mangan (Kyabram) 2011: Kathryn Hard (Seymour) 2010: Ash Mangan (Kyabram)

THE LEADING TEAM GOOD PEOPLE | GREAT RESULTS

You’ll find us here:    | 5831 1800 | www.gagliardiscott.com.au We wish all the Football & Netball players best of luck for their 2020 season 32 Football and Netball 2020


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

BENALLA Benalla knows team chemistry is crucial to building a successful netball outfit. After an early period of adjustment last season limited their ability to jell as a unit and push for finals, the Saints hit pre-season intent on strengthening those bonds. A better back half of 2019 gave the Saints confidence they were moving in the right direction, with coach Grace Warnock confident her team can reach greater heights this year. “At the end of last season, we finished really well and ended on a high,” Warnock said. “We’re trying to build on all those things. I think it will be a really positive season.” Most important for the Saints was retaining their A-grade talent, after low numbers and injuries last season meant the team couldn’t establish a starting seven. “This year we’re really concentrated on having that

KYABRAM core A-grade team instead of being really unsettled,” Warnock said. “It’s looking good so far. We’ve been able to retain most of our A-grade players and add a couple more in. “Grace (Amarant), Kelsey (Pallpratt) and Chloe (Hill) having had another year under their belt in senior netball will be beneficial. “And Bridget (Hill) had an outstanding halfa-season moving into goals last season. She’ll be ready to have a big year there.” With shooter Mikayla Lessing’s departure and Warnock looking likely switch her focus solely to leading as coach, the Saints have bolstered their list with the signing of Ovens and Murray defender Rhiannon Dolahenty. They’re also reaching deep into their junior talent pool, with Georgie Uebergang and reigning under-17 best-and-fairest winner Isabella Riley set to rise up the ranks to A-grade.

COACH: GRACE WARNOCK 2019 FINISH: TENTH (5–13)

If history is anything to go by, then Kyabram’s recent dormancy may mean something big is brewing at the hangar. Two ninth place finishes over the previous couple of years might have left heads to be scratched after back-to-back flags in 2016–17, but coach Sara Kent says the club is looking to leave last year’s injury-marred campaign in the past. Back behind the wheel for a second year, Kent hopes to see the current buoyancy within the camp lift the side, come round one. “It would certainly be easy to say we were disappointed with our finish last year given all the absences, and injuries definitely took their toll,” Kent said. “Pre-season has been good so far, it has been pretty full-on but everyone seems to be in good

shape at the moment.” The Bombers have been dealt a hefty blow to their defensive makeup with Ash Mangan set to depart on maternity leave, while fellow bastion Emma Ryan has relocated away from the club. Attacking threat Holly Butler has also left camp, having traded her dress for Girgarre colours, but the side will be shored up midway through the season with Emma Dunn expected to return from injury. Kyabram will be further bolstered by Charlotte Long’s move from Moama, meanwhile the re-signing of Elle Groves for another year will provide muchneeded depth within the playing group — a factor Kent hopes to see result in a push for a top-six spot. “The expectation for this year is certainly to finish higher than last year and compete in finals, and I think we are capable,” Kent said.

COACH: SARA KENT 2019 FINISH: NINTH (5–2–11)

ECHUCA Echuca looked to be on the road to back-to-back flags for most of the 2019 season, but a late stumble in the preliminary final saw those dreams come crashing down. Now a new year has arrived, and the women in bottle green are looking to get back on the throne as champions of the GVL. New coach Steph Vick — who takes the helm from premiership coach Gina Pearson — is clear with what the goals will be for her team in 2020. “We are going for a premiership,” she said. “We know that is going to involve a lot of hard work, we’ve seen how much it takes in the past, but we believe if we do put in the work and continue to push each other and continue to improve, we believe a grand final and a premiership can

be in reach.” The club’s A-grade side is still coming together, with the club currently training as a senior group, but Vick expects the makeup of the team to be as strong as ever. “We’re extremely lucky in terms of the talent we’ve seen so far,” she said. “Both new players and ones who have been around Echuca for a while are bringing a lot to the table. “We have a lot of girls staying around from last season, they still bring so much strength to our team, but the new girls coming in are going to add an extra dynamic and make the side even better. “We are working on team dynamics now, getting those areas right and making sure we can put forward the best netball we can.”

COACH: STEPH VICK 2019 FINISH: THIRD (16–5)

EUROA Fuelled by a couple of disheartening years occupying the foot of the Goulburn Valley League table, Euroa’s latest coaching coup will hope to see the side take flight in 2020. Sarah Ternes and Emma Clignett take over the reins from Leanne Hamlyn, bringing with them a host of knowledge within the local netballing sector. Sporting an illustrious resume which includes a role with the esteemed AFL Goulburn Murray Junior Netball academy, Clignett will hold the clipboard next to Ternes, who makes the jump from coaching Euroa’s B-grade side in 2019. “I am really looking forward to taking the step up alongside Emma, she is a very experienced coach and I will learn a lot from her,” Ternes said. “This season we will be looking to build a positive culture and get girls really enjoying their netball.” Having kept hold of the nucleus of its playing

contingent, Euroa has added talent in the form of Amelia Unthank and Bree Poole, A-grade netballers from the Ovens and Murray League. Unthank will enter Magpie country offering versatility, having excelled in both midcourt and defence for North Albury, while Poole, the 2018 O&M Rising Star Medallist, will likely impress coming to Euroa off the back of a lively year in offence for Albury Tigers. “(Those signings) will mean more depth for us,” Ternes said. “Hopefully we can hold onto our juniors and reclaim Euroa locals, because that is very important for us. “The goal is to get a few more wins on the board than last year and try and compete with some of the Shepparton sides.”

CO-COACHES: SARAH TERNES AND EMMA CLIGNETT 2019 FINISH: 12TH (1–17)

Elle Groves

Football and Netball 2020 33


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

MANSFIELD Last year’s seventh-placed finish was comfortably Mansfield’s best during the past five years, but feathers have since been shed within the Eagles’ camp ahead of the beckoning campaign. With Melbourne calling, Emily Hutchins’ decision to step down after serving the A-grade side from 2017 to 2019 has left duties to Dempsey Parsons, a figure new to the coaching game. “I am very fresh; I have previously had captaincy roles but I have had quite a lot of mentoring from Greg and Jade Heinrich and am really excited to get into it,” Parsons said. “We had such a fantastic side last year; it was great to have a team which had the chance to play together with each other for a few years. “That is one thing we have struggled with

at Mansfield, being a country town; we lose a lot of 18-year-olds to university and Melbourne, so it is all about getting them to come back.” Along with Hutchins’ departure, Mansfield’s Melbourne-based trio of Samantha Nunan, Madeline Smith and Jess Walker won’t feature in Eagles colours this year, meaning homegrown talent will lead the line-up for 2020. “A big thing for the side this year will be focusing on our locals, some will have a big step-up ahead,” she said. “We have a lot of young faces out of last year’s under-17s who will play A-grade, and all of them will be wanting a spot in the team. “It will be a real building year for us, we will be a fresh side with a lot of new individuals.”

COACH: DEMPSEY PARSONS 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (6–1–11)

MOOROOPNA Momentum at the Cattery has been on an upwards trajectory of late, with Mooroopna building a solid ground for success across the past few campaigns. Ecstatic with penetrating the top-six bracket last year, coach Di Hanslow hasn’t sold short the efforts of her side in poaching points off the competition’s best during 2019. “It was obviously huge for the club; being in the zone pool we are in, you have to have a number of good wins to make finals,” she said. “Before last year we hadn’t beaten the Swans and the Bears for quite a few seasons, so to do that was amazing.” The Cats’ fans will be licking their lips at the thought of a Maddie Wong-Ash Lancaster defensive pairing, with the veterans’ return alongside Paigan Impey’s entrance back into the squad sure to galvanise Mooroopna’s core.

Despite losing Mia Fallon to work commitments, Mooroopna will be further aided by the continual growth of youngsters Dayna Williams and Taylor Lloyd, as the pair juggles GVL duties with VNL responsibilities for 2020. Not letting former glories get in the way of executing their blueprint, Hanslow made it clear there were still mountains to climb in order for the Cats to reach their end goal. “We are probably still 12 months off where we want to be, but how long it takes to get there depends on the mindset of the players and work ethic,” she said. “So far, there has been a huge amount of positivity from the group, which is great. “In our zone pool you have to be realistic, but we want to be able to be really competitive against the top teams and take points off them.”

SEYMOUR

COACH: DI HANSLOW 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (11–1–6)

ROCHESTER For what has seemed like an age, Rochester’s yellow and black army has been deprived of a finals appearance after the side has failed to breach the top six in recent times. And while a plethora of talented juniors continue to turn heads in the lower grades, the Tigers’ fanbase may have to hold on and wait another year for their star to rise. According to coach Linda Rasmussen, grabbing a foothold and clinging on throughout the upcoming season will be the objective for 2020. “We have some really good juniors coming through the ranks that will definitely play A-grade this year,” she said. “The aim is to get more wins on the board than last

year and focus on the development.” Set to field a side largely unchanged from last year, Rochester will likely rue the absence of Morgan Dingwall after the goaler was added to its list plagued by ACL injuries in the off-season. Tigers talisman Bridgette Holt remains in recovery from a similar blow sustained last year, leaving a hole to be filled in the goal defence spot — and Rasmussen has not stepped around the position the club finds itself in as the competition looms. “Being a small country town, (these injuries) have really depleted our stocks,” she said. “I think we will be in for a really tough year, it will be all about holding off and waiting for the juniors to come through.”

COACH: LINDA RASMUSSEN 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (6–11)

34 Football and Netball 2020

Georgia Walpole

The Seymour Lions are the epitome of their namesake. Raw power and strength. Kings of the jungle as you say. Or in this case, queens. They showed as much in their assertive ninegoal premiership triumph over Shepparton United last September. And it’s this glistening crown the Lions are hoping to clasp again later this year as they set out for back-to-back flags. Coach Elle McDonald insists the players won’t be getting ahead of themselves as they build to a new season. “Obviously our ultimate goal is to go back-to-back,” McDonald said. “But we’re looking to transition some new players up and work through that to the level of netball we want to play. Every week in the GV you’re coming up against a tough competitor.” “We’ll prepare the best we can for that.”

Newly minted coach Lachlan Deane will join McDonald as a fresh set of eyes, with his presence on game day in the face of McDonald’s ANL commitments sure to provide the side greater support. “Not much is going to change. The structure here is really good,” Deane said. “Elle’s done some really good stuff here over the last couple of years. “We’ll just be refining bits and pieces.” Leaving the pack this year will be veteran A-grade players Sarah Douglas and Laura Carland. But as two doors close, others will open in the notoriously hard-to-crack side, especially for local players looking to progress through the ranks. “Obviously it’s sad to lose those experienced players,” McDonald said. “But it’s an exciting opportunity for players to step up and fill those spots.”

CO-COACHES: ELLE MCDONALD AND LACHLAN DEANE 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (17–2–2)


GOULBURN VALLEY LEAGUE

SHEPPARTON BEARS

SHEPPARTON SWANS

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Spurred on by a promising season where only a lack of killer instinct marred the Bears’ path to a grand final, coach Tracey Brereton has placed faith in last year’s core to echo 2019’s consistency during the home and away fixtures. Hoping the new decade will bear a premiership during her 13th year in charge, Brereton expects her playing group to have a spot reserved in the top three once the competition comes to the crunch in spring. “We dug deep during a lot of games last year, if a few results went our way it could have been a different story,” she said. “At the end of the day as long as you make finals in this competition you have a chance of playing in the grand final.”

With a new figure steering the Swans’ ship for 2020, collective success is the name of the game at Princess Park this year. Dylan Nexhip’s exit from the A-grade coaching contingent means Jana Bruinier will trade her trainers for the sideline come April, and she has arrived with the philosophy of prioritising both A-grade and B-grade outfits reaching the knockout phase of the competition. “We had a relatively successful year last year. It was pretty injury-ridden but we established a really great bunch of players … we were really pleased with our B-grade side making the prelims,” she said. “We have all been collectively goal setting for the year, and our first goal is to put ourselves in a position where both our A and B sides will make finals.

Shepparton has lost resources in all thirds of the court, with wily goaler Laura Scott, midcourter Kate Durling and defensive pillar Ash Bradley among those not putting on the maroon dress for 2020. But in gaining Erin Scott through elevation from B-grade, the Bears will be shifting focus to producing more polished performances with its present company to convert narrow defeats into winning margins. “Even though we have lost a few I am still confident we will have a really strong team this year,” Brereton said. “We have to get better in moments that count — the bottom line for the group is to finish off key plays; if we can do that, then we turn one or two-goal losses into wins.”

COACH: TRACEY BRERETON 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (13–7)

“With the depth and strength that we have in our squad, I think that is a very achievable goal.” As with other Shepparton sides, the damage within the Swans’ camp has been well controlled with offensive outlet Olivia Mason’s departure the singular blow to the side for 2020. On the other end of the scale, Sophie Atkinson will slot back into the side after returning from pregnancy, while the starting seven will be further supplemented after Liz Cobbledick put pen to paper on a move from Colbinabbin. Player movements aside, Bruinier’s measure of success lies with the inclusion of the club’s A and B outfits within the top six at the business end of the competition.

COACH: JANA BRUINIER 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (12–7)

TATURA Off the back of a few gruelling years, Tatura has adopted a three-pronged coaching approach to help nurture the netball culture at the Kennel. Last season’s A-grade coach Molly Boyle moves into a specialist role alongside Steph Gorrie, handing the baton to new face Georgia Ryan to govern the success of the side for 2020. Sporting a pedigree the Bulldogs desperately require, Ryan comes across from the Shepparton Bears where she occupied a position as assistant coach of the A-grade team, as well as coaching the GVL 17-and-under team to a state championship in 2019. “Georgia’s knowledge is exceptional; she will set high standards and make sure we are doing all the basics right,” Boyle said. “We have a got a good spread of coaches, some

Elsie Boyer

Dayna Williams

who have played at Tatura who are now coaches, it will be good to share the load.” The Bulldogs may not have added any outside influences on their roster, but a breakout year on the court in 2019 for 15-year-old Elsie Boyer sees the young midcourter retain her A-grade dress for this season. With more grassroots netballers set to debut in red, white and blue during 2020, exciting times lie ahead for Tatura locals thirsting for a more native imprint on the senior side. “Again, the aim is to be competitive,” Boyle said. “Last year, while we may not have gotten many wins, I felt we were competitive for the whole year. We weren’t far off the mark. “We will aim to consolidate what we’ve got; we have a good core.”

COACH: GEORGIA RYAN 2019 FINISH: 11TH (2–16)

SHEPPARTON UNITED Threatened by unavailability scares on the eve of its 2019 grand final bout with Seymour, Shepparton United plucked youngster Georgia Walpole from the B-grade ranks and placed her directly in the midst of top-level finals action. Despite eventually falling to the Lions, coach Tania Orchard has rewarded Walpole’s “baptism of fire through the finals series” with a permanent spot in the side for 2020, among others. “She (Walpole) had to step up and she certainly proved herself, she came in and did what we asked of her,” Orchard said. “We had a fantastic season last year, unfortunately we couldn’t get the chocolates in the end. “I am certainly not devastated; I am very proud of all the girls.” In addition to Walpole’s promotion, United has looked to blood more youth by bringing under-17 prospect Molly Kennedy into the A-grade outfit for 2020.

Jessie Barnes

The Demons have also enlisted the services of Bendigo product Zoe Davies for 2020, who will undoubtedly add an element of defensive surety having most recently plied her trade for City West Falcons in the Victorian Netball League. Orchard said the 21-year-old’s inclusion freedup space in other areas of the court, meaning Laura Cole can reassume her position in the centre while also allowing Jessie Barnes to continue to wreak havoc inside the shooting circle. The damage has been minimal in the off-season at Deakin, with Bree Hanslow and Karly Frost the only outs, which only furthers the chances of a grand final reappearance for United when September rolls around.

– LIAM NASH, MEG SAULTY AND ANDREW JOHNSTON

COACH: TANIA ORCHARD 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (17–1–4)

Football and Netball 2020 35


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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Echuca United

WILL THE PURPLE PATCH CONTINUE? As per annual Murray Football Netball League tradition, the season begins seeking an answer to an age-old question — can anyone beat Nathalia? The Purples made it a historic five consecutive premierships last September — a feat never before accomplished in the MFL — but satisfaction is not a word associated with the league’s power side and it is once again expected to be at the competition’s pointy-end. But a new contender announced itself late last year in the form of Tongala with a daring run to the grand final from fifth on the ladder. The Blues have reacquired several former stars including Jack Monigatti and Bailey Waasdorp, and Jordan Souter’s men are beautifully poised to take another step forward and seek a first premiership since 1984. Numurkah has a new co-head honcho with 2018 Shepparton premiership coach Sean Harrap steering the ship with Jye Warren and there will be no shortage of motivation at the showgrounds, the Blues having fallen short of a grand final appearance by a single point last season. And Echuca United will also be desperate for the season to kick off, having been unable to replicate scintillating home-and-away form in finals by suffering

PAST A-GRADE BEST AND FAIRESTS 2019: Elenoa Naimalua (Rumbalara) 2018: Tessa Bruni (Cobram) 2017: Amelia Wyatt (Deniliquin) 2016: Jessie Barnes (Rumbalara) 2015: Alicia White (Tongala) 2014: Tamara Skinner (Numurkah) 2013: Leanne Rawson (Numurkah) 2012: Renee Judd (Numurkah) 2011: Rebecca White (Deniliquin)

40 Football and Netball 2020

a straight-sets exit they will be keen to make up for. League medallist Jackson Gash has a new running mate at Mulwala, with the Lions luring Tungamah co-coach and midfield supremo Bodhi Butts to create the league’s most fearsome on-ball coupling. And a new contender could easily emerge, just as Congupna did last season with its own sensational run to the preliminary final. On the netball court, Echuca United enters with the belt after its memorable grand final upset of Moama, but the Eagles will need to find a new linchpin after the eyebrow-raising exit of playing-coach Lisa Drysdale. The Magpies will again be around the mark after three straight grand finals, as will Rumbalara after falling in the preliminary final, just its second loss of a brilliant campaign in which both defeats came by one goal. The Deniliquin Rams appear another elite contender, while the competition’s remainder will look to knock last season’s top four off its perch.

LADDER PREDICTION NETBALL

FOOTBALL 1

NATHALIA

1

RUMBALARA

2

ECHUCA UNITED

2

DENILIQUIN RAMS

3

TONGALA

3

MOAMA

4

NUMURKAH

4

ECHUCA UNITED

5

MULWALA

5

MULWALA

6

FINLEY

6

NATHALIA

7

CONGUPNA

7

FINLEY

8

COBRAM

8

COBRAM

9

RUMBALARA

9

TONGALA

10

DENILIQUIN RAMS

10

TUNGAMAH

11

MOAMA

11

CONGUPNA

12

TUNGAMAH

12

KATANDRA

13

BAROOGA

13

BAROOGA

14

KATANDRA

14

NUMURKAH

Nathalia

O’DWYER MEDALLISTS

PAST PREMIERS

2019: Kaine Herbert (Undera) 2019: Jackson Gash (Mulwala) 2018: Brodie A’Vard (Barooga) 2017: Rhys Archard (Moama) 2016: Ned Morrison (Finley) 2015: Rhys Archard (Moama) 2014: Marcus Smith (Barooga) 2013: Ash Morris (Deniliquin Rams) 2012: Rowan Priest (Echuca United) 2011: Ryan Bongetti (Cobram) 2010: Ryan Bongetti (Cobram)

FOOTBALL 2019: Nathalia 2018: Nathalia 2017: Nathalia 2016: Nathalia 2015: Nathalia 2014: Rumbalara 2013: Echuca United 2012: Nathalia 2011: Deniliquin Rams 2010: Moama

NETBALL 2019: Echuca United 2018: Moama 2017: Moama 2016: Echuca United 2015: Echuca United 2014: Numurkah 2013: Mulwala 2012: Finley 2011: Mulwala 2010: Numurkah


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

BAROOGA HAWKS FOOTBALL

NETBALL

The Hawks compiled six wins last season but lost another five by three goals or less, suggesting if they can learn how to win close games they will quickly begin closing the gap to the top eight. The Hawks compiled six wins last season but lost another five by three goals or less, suggesting if they can learn how to win close games they will quickly begin closing the gap to the top eight. Brain, who joined the Hawks from Labrador for last season, quickly made an impact with a super campaign for his new club, and steps up to replace James Hazelman as coach. “It’s been really good, I played at Barooga last year and the young blokes have really backed me,” he said. “They probably know about as much about coaching as I do, but they’ve backed me and are all on my side, and that’s made training really exciting. “It’s a very young group, the average age would only be around 21, but we want to keep building and maybe push into finals.” Shepparton’s Tom Thorsen joins after 19 goals in 16 games last season, having played with the new coach at Labrador in 2018, while

At the time of writing Barooga was yet to appoint an A-grade netball coach, but that has not stopped the club’s young talents working hard through pre-season.

Brain was also expected to lean on Northern Territory league contacts for another pair of signings. Brain said adding some experience would help the club’s next generation. “We lost four games by under 10 points, so I feel we just lacked a couple of older composed heads,” he said. “A few of the young guys coming through, they look the next leaders of the club and will hold us in really good stead moving forward.” He added the side’s goals for the season would become apparent in the first half-dozen games. “We’re not really thinking about finals, just targeting that first six-week block. If we can get a few wins there that would be great, but if we don’t we will reassess.”

With only two of last season’s players to line-up in round one, it is fair to say it will be an inexperienced cast of Hawks. “I guess you could say there’s been a mass exodus, and it’s not to detract from the current side, but the quality we’ve lost is huge and there’s a big void to fill,” committee member Wendy Brooks said. “But the season hasn’t started yet, and some pain in the short-term will hopefully be a big gain in the future.” Brooks hoped the players would ignore the scoreboard and concentrate on personal development to hold the side in a strong position in the long run. “I’m a big advocate for getting your basic skills spot on, because if you do the rest will fall into place. We hope their confidence builds and there’s a bit more self-belief,” she said.

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Tom Thorsen (Shepparton). OUT: Nicholas Sim, Lucas Olson (Yarroweyah), Brad Oats, Dwayne Wilson.

–ALEX MITCHELL

Logan Morey

COACH: ZAC BRAIN MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997 2019 FINISH: 10TH (6–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: RICKY THOMSON 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: LUCAS OLSON (27) GROUND: BAROOGA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: HAWKS

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Football and Netball 2020 41


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

COBRAM TIGERS NETBALL

FOOTBALL

Cobram’s netballers tasted finals success last season and will be keen to take things to the next level.

A brutal injury run is a thing of the past for Cobram as it embarks on another campaign with top-four aspirations. With new coach John Brunskill at the helm, the Tigers will look to avoid adding another season to their eight-campaign streak of not winning a final, particularly given they have made the postseason and immediately exited in the past two seasons. But Brunskill, a former Strathmerton coach who was the Tigers’ chairman of selectors last season, said the ingredients were there for the side to again be at the ladder’s pointy end. “If we play the best we can, we’ve got some really good kids we think we can rely on for plenty of growth,” Brunskill said. “There’s some good kids there, I think what happened was injuries just destroyed our season — they’re always a factor for every team, but we had 16 or 17 out a couple of times and it’s hard to compete with that. “I hope we’ll be a fairly attacking team and play a free-flowing brand, we’ve got those kids that really like to run.” The Tigers missed talented stars including Tyron Baden, Tim

Garlick, Sam Gemmill and Darcy McCormack for long portions last season and would benefit greatly from a better injury run, things falling apart late last season with losses in five of their past six games. The side has added Yarrawonga trio Marcus and Travis Hargreaves and Joe Gorman, who all primarily played Ovens and Murray reserves football last season, along with Westmeadows ruckman Michael Gillard. “We’ve picked up four players from around the area that fit into what we’re doing, we know we needed a ruck and some bigger bodies. We’ve kept with our policy, they’re all pretty young,” Brunskill said. Young talents Luca Allen and Harry Beasley look the obvious candidates to take another step forward this season, with Adam De Cicco again to be important after a best and fairest-winning 2019.

Luca Allen

Meg Denson

The Tigers went 11–7 in the regular season before knocking off Congupna in an eliminator, only to fall to Deniliquin the following week. But new coach Meg Denson said the side was capable of getting back among the top-tier contenders once more. “Making it to the semi-finals last year proved what we were capable of,” Denson said. “We hope we can go further into the finals series again this season, and with our current list I believe that is possible. “This year the A-grade side is looking to strengthen the defensive pressure all down the court, an aspect of our game that has been lacking in recent years. “And overall we just want to strengthen our consistency with strong four-quarter efforts week in week out.” The Tigers head to the new season without stars Kate Bird and Tessa Bruni, but will look to replace their impact with Georgia Stoate and Hannah O’Meara. –ALEX MITCHELL

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Michael Gillard (Westmeadows), Joe Gorman, Marcus Hargreaves, Travis Hargreaves (Yarrawonga). OUT: Daniel Clarke, Tom Scott (Yarroweyah). COACH: JOHN BRUNSKILL MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1947, 1948, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1969, 1974, 1984, 1985, 1998. 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (10–8) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ADAM DE CICCO 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: CADEYN WILLIAMS (35) GROUND: SCOTT OVAL NICKNAME: TIGERS

COACH: MEG DENSON 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (12–8)

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42 Football and Netball 2020


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

CONGUPNA THE ROAD NETBALL

FOOTBALL

Congupna ground out a finals appearance last season, but new coach Ash Warren wants more from the Road in 2020.

Fresh from its first finals win of the millennium, the building blocks are there for Congupna to kick on this season. The Road pinched not one, but two finals last season, beaten in the preliminary final by eventual-premier Nathalia, and now it will look to recreate that brilliant result — or perhaps go a step better. With Peter Sheehan on board as coach boasting more than two decades of coaching experience, the side’s first task will be replacing the gaping hole left by the departure of star midfielder BJ Squire, who has returned to the Shepparton Swans. “If you look at last year, teams ran out there knowing they could target BJ and Tate Mifka — we thought we’d increase the depth and in turn other players will get opportunity in the middle,” Sheehan said. “We’ve also picked up Fraser Hicks and Kyle Orchard, senior GV footballers who play in the midfield. But especially for our young guys, all of a sudden there is a great chance to step up and we expect them to do that.” Shepparton United’s Sam Buxton fills a hole in the ruck while key forward Glenn Boyd joins after back-to-back premierships with Woorinen, and young former

Shepparton talent Hugo Ingham is also set to impress at his new club. After last season’s finals success, Sheehan urged his players to strike while the iron is hot. “We don’t hide from that; maybe in the AFL there’s a window of opportunity that lasts a while, but in country footy, if you’re not called Kyabram or Nathalia, windows don’t last long,” Sheehan said. “We’re aiming for the top four to give ourselves an opportunity to launch in September. “It’s a side that made the prelim, and we’re looking to aim for that again, and to even make a grand final should everything go our way with injury.” Joel Shannon and Jordan Gee loom as two youngsters that could explode this season.

Tate Mifka

Sophie Sidebottom

Seven wins and a draw were enough for eighth — and a 14-goal elimination final loss to Cobram — but Warren said with a year of experience together, she expected the side would kick on. “It was a great season considering there were a lot of brand-new players, it takes a while to jell, but it was great we were able to make it as far as we did,” she said. “Personally, as a player, I’d like to finish higher, but I’m proud of the growth.” Sophie Sidebottom, a veteran of more than 250 club games despite her young age, and Shepparton’s Elisha Fiddes are the side’s new faces, meaning the cohesion should remain a strength. “It’s pretty much the same team with a couple of inclusions, so we want to just keep building and developing as a team,” Warren said. –ALEX MITCHELL

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Zavier Ballis (Tatura), Glenn Boyd (Woorinen), Jakob Butcher, Sam Buxton, Fraser Hicks, Kyle Orchard (Shepparton United), Hugo Ingham, Ash Philipps (Shepparton), Sam Woodward (Stanhope). OUT: Jimmy Boyer (Tatura), BJ Squire (Shepparton Swans), Mat Cornwall (AFL Queensland), Dion Gleeson (Congupna). COACHES: PETER SHEEHAN MFL PREMIERSHIPS: NONE 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (12–9) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BJ SQUIRE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DANIEL CAMPBELL (61) GROUND: MEMORIAL PARK NICKNAME: THE ROAD

COACH: ASH WARREN 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (7–1–11)

Football and Netball 2020 43


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

DENILIQUIN RAMS NETBALL

FOOTBALL

The Deni Rams will head into the 2020 season with a massive boost in player personnel. Three-time club premiership player Tim Holobowski will return as senior co-coach, joining non-playing coach Sam Hall at the helm. Holobowski played in the club’s 2003, 2004 and 2011 premiership sides, and has also won two flags with Wycheproof Narraport in the years since. The club also confirmed star onballer Todd Gallagher as an assistant coach for 2020. “It’s pretty special for me, being able to come home to the club I love and help Sam and Gags (Gallagher) develop what looks to be such a promising young side,” Holobowski said. “I played in a flag with them (Hall and Gallagher) in 2011 and I’ve got so many great memories and have all my best friends through the Rams; it’s a great club and a great place for young men and women to be around. “I’m 34 now and virtually had last year off footy, but I’m confident I’ll be playing and providing some guidance to the young blokes on the field alongside Gags.” Holobowski joins Jack Tyndall, Lenny Clarke, Daniel Jordan and

John Anstee

Darcy Pogue as 2011 premiership players returning to the club. The club has also welcomed a host of recruits from Blighty this year. “There is a good feeling at the club at the moment,” Hall said. “Numbers on the track at this time of the year have been strong. “Rick Gittens has been training the house down and the Blighty blokes in Tom Druitt, Beau Close, Darcy Pogue, Tom Billings and Lachie MacDonald have been quite impressive. “They have all arrived with a good attitude and have given everyone a lift. “Hopefully there will be a fair bit of pressure on spots in the senior side next year.” Amelia Seignior

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Judd Barnes, Tom Billings, Lenny Clarke, Louis Clarke, Beau Close, Tom Dowling, Tom Druitt, Daniel Jordan, Lachie MacDonald, Darcy Pogue, Jack Tyndall (Blighty), James Henderson (Eastlake), Tim Holobowski (Wycheproof), Charlie Simpson (year off ), Bailey Townsend (Lavington). OUT: Ben Irwin. CO-COACHES: SAM HALL AND TIM HOLOBOWSKI 2019 FINISH: ELEVENTH (6–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: RICKY GITTENS 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ADRIAN PAPPIN (24) GROUND: HARDINGE ST OVAL NICKNAME: RAMS

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Five-time club best-andfairest winner Amelia Seignior will lead the Deniliquin Rams’ A-grade side in the 2020 Murray Netball League season. Seignior will fill the role as a player-coach, with the 2017 Murray league best-andfairest winner likely to continue her role as a utility player. Key players Hayley Hall (retired), Eleisha Hall and Eliza Eastman (each taking a year off ), Ella Park (university) and Leah Blake (ankle) will miss the 2020 season. However, the Rams will be buoyed with the arrival of 2018 Picola District league best-and-fairest winner Rhiannan Maxwell. The former Blighty player will join the Rams after a year off netball, with other Redeyes players Molly Cochrane and Alana Coates also making the move to the club. Under-17s graduates Keely and Makhaya Mitsch are also buoyed at having a big year ahead. –JAMIE LOWE

COACH: AMELIA SEIGNIOR 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (14–4)

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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

ECHUCA UNITED EAGLES FOOTBALL

NETBALL

To say Echuca United’s footballers have fire in their bellies would be an understatement. For much of the 2019 season, it looked as if United and eventual-premier Nathalia were destined for a grand final date, but ultimately it all fell apart. And it was an ending coach Guy Campbell has been dwelling over for several months. “Every player in our seniors and reserves grade were disappointed with how last year finished,” he said. “We can speak about the injuries we had to key players, but there is no point in making excuses. At the end of the day we let ourselves down at key times. “The boys are really committed to bouncing back this year. There is a really strong feeling among the core group who have been on the track since the beginning of pre-season.” United will start the season against local rivals Tongala and Moama, in what Campbell has described as a challenging first two games. “We’re going to find out where we are at pretty quickly,” he said. “Tongala obviously had

a great finish to last year by making the grand final and everyone is expecting Moama to improve again. “Like every other side, our goal will be to get through the early rounds without too many injuries. “If we’re able to keep our best side out on the park, it will go a long way to helping us get to where we want to be.” Throughout 2019, Campbell was hellbent on his side producing four consistent quarters on a weekly basis. And you shouldn’t be expecting him to change his message this season.

Season 2020 will be all about opportunity for Echuca United’s netballers.

“The challenge for any football side is to close the gap between their best and worst,” he said. “We’re not afraid to say we want to be in a position where we can challenge the best sides in the Murray league in the back half of the season. “Yes, we want to be competitive with them during the home and away games, but everyone wants to be playing finals footy. “And I believe we have the strength in our playing to get there.”

Throughout the off-season, there have been several big changes ahead of the side’s premiership defence. Most notably, Grant Matthews has been appointed as the Eagles’ new A-grade coach, while several of the team’s stars have since departed the club. Despite the changing of the guard, netball president Tracey Pearson is excited by what the year could bring. “As a club, we are always wanting to see our juniors transition into senior netballers,” she said. “One of Grant’s biggest goals is to give our top junior players a go at senior level. And by giving them that opportunity they are only going to become better players. “The club believes we already have a strong foundation with our junior netball program and if we can continue to build on that it will hold us in a good place for years to come.”

–BRAYDEN MAY

Erin Delahunty

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Liam Guinan (Leitchville Gunbower), Matthew Lias (Echuca), Dylan Cuttriss (Rochester), Phil Hazelman (Girgarre). OUT: Ben Fulford (Echuca), Nick Kellow (Elmore), Matthew Nettlefold (Elmore), Charlie McLay (Lancaster).

Josh Mellington

COACH: GUY CAMPBELL MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 2013 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (15–5) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JOSH MELLINGTON 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JOSH MELLINGTON (130) GROUND: ECHUCA SOUTH RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: EAGLES

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Football and Netball 2020 45


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FINLEY CATS NETBALL

FOOTBALL

After 14 years away from the club, Robyn Campbell is returning to Finley to try and help the A-grade side push further into finals.

Finley looks beautifully positioned to be one of the Murray league’s boom teams after a big off-season. With a trio of key inclusions plus a big summer of bulking from the club’s youngsters, anything short of a return to finals would appear to be a disappointing output from the Cats. Tom Doyle will again coach the side, and he felt adding key pillars Sam Durnan and Fraser Hawkins along with NEAFL premiership player Jordan Taylor would lift the side’s youth to the next level. “We made a hot start (to pre-season) on the back of our young kids, who put in the hard work in pre-season putting on weight and getting fit,” Doyle said. “At one stage (in 2019) we had 12 guys that were 19 or younger; those younger guys tend to be in that running-mid mould, but to fast-track them we thought we needed a few bigger bodies, and some players in that key age range of 24 to 27. Things filter down nicely if you can do that.” The Cats missed finals narrowly last season but showed plenty of promise, and Doyle warned rivals to expect huge performances from starlet duo Mat Wilson and Zec Cuppens as they take their

next footballing steps. Wilson led the Cats’ goalkicking last season with 38 snags, but Doyle forecast plenty more midfield hours for the lively type. The Cats have still not won a final since their 2016 trip to the grand final, but Doyle said the club was well and truly ticking the boxes to be among the competition’s elite once more. “I was disappointed to miss last year, we had a team I felt could go a bit further,” he said. “We played some really good footy, but what cost us was a little bit of depth, and we dropped a few games where we were just down. Consistency comes with age, and we’ve recruited that depth.”

Mat Wilson

Charlotte and Emma Hurlston

–ALEX MITCHELL

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Sam Durnan (Avenel), Fraser Hawkins (Ainslie), Jordan Taylor (Southport). OUT: Zeke Carruthers (Berrigan), Jesse McDonald (Huntly). COACH: TOM DOYLE MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1952, 1954, 1958, 1971, 1981, 1982, 1988 2019 FINISH: NINTH (7–1–10) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: LUKE MOORE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MAT WILSON (38) GROUND: FINLEY RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: CATS

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The Cats impressed last season, defying their young age to not only win nine regular season games, but knock off Mulwala in an elimination final. “It was a young team and it will be again,” Campbell said. “There’s a few changes, but the girls have been really eager, and a lot of the time it’s not just about ability, it’s the eagerness to do well that drives things.” With a similar side, Campbell hoped her side would continue to improve. “We want to get a little better, but there are some really strong teams in the Murray league, particularly the areas a little more heavily populated,” she said. “We’re a small-town club, but they’re all local girls, they’re really dedicated and there’s a great culture.”

COACH: ROBYN CAMPBELL 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (10–10)

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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

KATANDRA KATS FOOTBALL

NETBALL

Gradual improvement is the number-one aim as Trent Herbert takes the reins as Katandra coach. The Kats pinched three wins in their first Murray league campaign in 2018 and upped that to four last season, but with a slew of exciting former Goulburn Valley League talents added to the line-up, this could be the year they begin to make their mark. Headlining the list of ins is former Kat Cameron Calder, who brings 104 senior club games and 66 GVL senior games back to the club, along with the professional attitude the team is crying out for. “(The team) needs to be run a bit better, and we need to improve the professionalism within the group; a few boys didn’t buy into that last season,” Herbert said. “But it’s my second year here now, I know who the boys are now and what needs to change for us to play senior football the best we can. “He (Calder) brings that professionalism from United and will give more structure to us… he’s bringing GVL senior experience to the Murray league.” Jack Caia also adds class to the side, with Mitchell Black, Rhys

After two wins in two Murray league seasons, Katandra coach Bec Osmond hopes this is the year for her young charges.

Damon and Adam Pummeroy on board after spending last season with United’s under-18s. While Herbert acknowledged the enormity of the task his side faces, he called on his troops to control the controllables. “It’s really good at the moment, and we’ll be better than last year so it’s good to be improving,” he said. “We’re just looking at the little things instead of aiming for something huge, we’re a fair bit off a premiership so we’ll concentrate on the little things. “Our main goal is finals, but we concentrate on the small things like reaching our KPIs, so we’ll see how things go. If you’re on top of your KPIs, the scoreboard tends to look after itself.”

Trent Herbert

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Mitchell Black, Jack Caia, Cameron Calder, Rhys Damon, Adam Pummeroy (Shepparton United) OUT: Russell Eden (Shepparton Swans)

The Kats’ head honcho said sound fundamentals were the major aim as her side ground through pre-season. “It’s a really young group, the average age would only be 19 or 20,” Osmond said. “So, we just want to concentrate on the basics, getting really fit and just getting back to basics with our skills and our game. We’ll be worrying about ourselves and trying to perfect our game.” The A-grade squad will be virtually identical to last season, with young Mel Simpson joining in place of Amanda Elliott, who will miss time through injury. ”Everyone is very young, although they’ve been around the side for a few years now; even when they were playing 17s they were filling in for A-grade,” Osmond said. “They’re young but there’s a bit of experience and it’s time for them to take a step up.” –ALEX MITCHELL

Georgia Moore

COACH: TRENT HERBERT MFL PREMIERSHIPS: NONE 2019 FINISH: 13TH (4–14) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: LUKE MINOGUE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: RYLEIGH SHANNON (24) GROUND: KATANDRA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: KATS

COACH: BEC OSMOND 2019 FINISH: 14TH (1–17)

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Football and Netball 2020 47


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

MOAMA MAGPIES FOOTBALL

NETBALL

Moama knew it was in for some pain in 2019. With the club focusing on its development for the future, the Magpies struggled in winning just two games for the season. But now, with another pre-season under their belts and some handy additions to their line-up, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Coach Luke Eldridge said the group was excited to get back to playing after a long off-season. “Things haven’t really stopped,” Eldridge said. “We’ve been working pretty hard since the season finished to get ourselves ready for the new year. “We had a tough run in 2019, but we’re still developing. “We’ve kept the majority of our list, we’ve really only lost a few who have moved away for work. “But we’ve been able to keep together. “We set a goal before last year of developing the group of players we had, everyone has bought into the idea and are staying around again this year to see where we can go.” The club has picked up several strong recruits, including the likes of Callum Doyle and Fraser Verhey returning to the club, but

Eldridge said it was the development of younger players which had impressed him the most. “You haven’t been able to stop them,” he said. “Doing extra training or gym, the young guys are putting all the work they can to get fitter and stronger. “It’s really good to see how much they want to get better and stronger and push for selection, I’m really impressed by their work ethic.” The club has not sat down and planned its goals for the season, but Eldridge has some idea of what he wants to see from the group. “I think we are in a pretty good position as a club heading into the season, hopefully we are able to translate that into some success on the field,” he said. “Ideally, we’d want to be on the road towards finals. “If we could get a few more wins for this season, start to make our way up the ladder I’d be really happy. “It’s not going to turn around in one year, we’ve set a direction and we want to be progressing in that direction.” –ANDREW JOHNSTON

2020 is officially start of a new era for Moama.

Fraser Verhey

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Darcy Bibby (Leitchville-Gunbower), Toby Hore (Leitchville-Gunbower), Marcus Wattie (Tyntynder), Jack Gleeson (Tooleybuc Manangatang), Callum Doyle (Rochester), George Presto (overseas), Liam Ritchie (injury), Fraser Verhey (Echuca), Kobe Poulton (Echuca), Hudson Moyle (Echuca). OUT: Sam Youngman (Waubra), Dylan Wright (Anglesea), Dougal McKindlay, Lachlan Thorp.

COACH: LUKE ELDRIDGE MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 2010 2019 FINISH: 14TH (2–16) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JACK HARLAND 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: FRASER BUCHANAN (44) GROUND: MOAMA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: MAGPIES

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The off-season has seen major changes at the club, with Jodie Lake appointed as the new A-grade coach, while several premiership players departed and replaced by members from rival clubs. Despite the turnover, Lake is excited by the challenge she has in front of her. “Everyone is turning over a new leaf this season which is really exciting,” Lake said. “When there is so many changes in a short amount of time it can be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to the rewards it can bring. “We’re going to see a lot of junior girls step up to senior netball, which is only going to accelerate their development. “And with the new faces we’ve been able to bring in, I think it gives us a great balance on the court. “There is a great feeling among the group at the moment and we can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Jodie Lake COACH: JODIE LAKE 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (17–1–3)

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48 Football and Netball 2020


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

MULWALA LIONS FOOTBALL

NETBALL

Off yet another straight-sets finals exit, Mulwala is focused on turning its solid regular season output into September success. The Lions have lost their past seven finals dating back to 2013 and exited their past four finals campaigns without a win, including in the past three seasons. But they have a knack of putting themselves in the right positions, having gone 34–1–19 in their past three regular seasons, finishing last year’s campaign fourth on the ladder. “Our finals campaigns the last three or four years have been a little bit disappointing, but the boys have addressed it, and being so young we need a bit more maturity,” coach Jason Sanderson said. “We need effort, dedication towards the end of the season. Obviously, we’d like to get back to finals, but we do want to push a bit deeper.” But some quality recruiting has left Mulwala with the best one-two punch in the league; former Mulwala coach and star on-baller Bodhi Butts has headed to Lonsdale Reserve, pairing with reigning O’Dwyer medallist Jackson Gash to create a midfield duo whose ability cannot be overstated.

“(Butts) is a very good addition, he’s been coaching Tungamah, so he brings that experience and class to the side,” Sanderson said. “But more importantly, the leadership he brings to the young group is fantastic, he and Jackson really complement each other. “Those two have really driven training. The players have attacked it with real enthusiasm and are looking stronger.” The Lions will need to find a new avenue to goal, with Sean Robinson and Dylan Flanagan departing the club and leaving 57 goals between them from last season. The side has added two Essendon District league players in Jack Barnes and Rhys Moylan, but has had a small setback with a number of the club’s younger players heading to Yarrawonga to play Ovens and Murray league under-18s football.

Mulwala’s promising 2019 season was cut short in the first week of finals, but the Lions will be looking to keep their upward trajectory rolling.

Bodhi Butts

From six wins in 2017 and eight wins in 2018, the Lions won 11 games last season for a top-six finish before falling in an elimination final upset to Finley. But being a young side, coach Bre Flanagan expected her players would continue to build. “Obviously we were a pretty young side last year, so we’re still really focusing on the development of our players,” she said. “Both the Pitches — Lauren and Morgan — have moved away, as has Brodie Pfeiffer. Millie Ferguson will still be around the side, but she’s still missing time with her knee. “It’s just about developing the side, I’d really hope we can develop and improve just as much as we did last season.”

PLAYER CHANGES

–ALEX MITCHELL

IN: Jack Barnes (Essendon Doutta Stars), Bodhi Butts (Tungamah), Rhys Moylan (Aberfeldie), Jackson (AFL Queensland). OUT: Kyle Abikhair, Josh Ednie, Liam Russell, Zach Scott (Yarrawonga), Dylan Flanagan (Tocumwal), Sean Robinson (Heathcote).

COACH: JASON SANDERSON MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1990 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (11–1–8) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JACKSON GASH 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: SEAN ROBINSON (39) GROUND: LONSDALE RESERVE NICKNAME: LIONS

COACH: BRE FLANAGAN 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (11–8)

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Football and Netball 2020 49


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

NATHALIA PURPLES FOOTBALL

Fresh from becoming the first Murray league team to win five straight premierships, it is possible Nathalia enters its pursuit of a sixth in an even stronger position. While the premiers have lost grand final best-on-ground Bailey Bell and Adam Jorgensen, the Purples welcome Shepparton United star Matt Di Bella and Demon teammate Ben Bingham, as well as Connor Brown (Waaia) and Jaydan Thewma (Tatura) in a truly impressive recruiting haul. And motivation will never be questioned at Nathalia, as a side that can already call itself perhaps the league’s GOAT continues to chase premierships to share among mates. “It’s about us locals staying together, we’ve been playing with each other for a long

time, we love it and have really enjoyed our success,” coach Mal Barnes said. “We all love training together and doing pre-season together, we work hard and there’s always great buy-in from all. “It’s all just about keeping things rolling, you do a few little different things to try and keep the excitement and enjoyment in the group, but you don’t really want to change a winning formula.” While the likes of Drew Barnes, Brodie Ross, Liam Evans and Jason Limbrick remain some of the competition’s more formidable players, what makes the

Purples so dangerous — and has made them that for such a period — is the emergence of the next generation, with Tom Nihill and Alex Hicks producing brilliantly last season. “There’s still a really good mix of ages; you’ve got a few of the older blokes but then there’s guys like Tom Nihill and Alex Hicks who have taken their football to unreal levels,” the coach said. “This year we expect them to go again after really good pre-seasons, and there’s a few out of the thirds that can make an impact too.”

While there will be no shortage of contenders to do it, the Purples will need to find at least a couple of new avenues to goal with the departing Jorgensen and Bell having slotted 91 goals between them last season.

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Ben Bingham, Matt Di Bella (Shepparton United), Connor Brown (Waaia), Jaydan Thewma (Tatura). OUT: Bailey Bell (Tatura), Adam Jorgensen (Wodonga).

NETBALL

Nathalia bounced back from a winless campaign with a strong 2019, but the Purples are keen to keep rising through the ranks. “Coming from the bottom of the ladder for some years, even though our A-grade side missed finals, our other three senior grades made finals and we thought the year was a huge success,” coach Emma McDonald said. “We’re stronger again with a few new faces, so we’re pretty confident.” Strathmerton premiership defender Tegan Sutton, who was best-on-court in last year’s Picola league premiership, strengthens the Purples greatly, while a secretive McDonald kept a couple of cards close to her chest in promising some more additions. “The goal end will definitely be stronger, and the defence will be too with Tegan in there adding some height. Stacey Ross is also back from a knee, so we’ve probably strengthened all over,” she said. “Motivation seemed to come easily off last season. The dynamic has been really enjoyable and they’ve made my job easy.” –ALEX MITCHELL

Tegan Sutton

Tom Nihill

COACH: MAL BARNES MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1939, 1949, 1963, 1978, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (20–1) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ALEX HICKS 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: LIAM EVANS (67) GROUND: NATHALIA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: PURPLES

COACH: EMMA MCDONALD 2019 FINISH: NINTH (7–1–10)

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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

NUMURKAH BLUES NETBALL

FOOTBALL

A promising season was cut short in heart-breaking fashion for Numurkah last season, but the Blues are coming back for vengeance. The Blues went 13–7 in the regular season and won through to the preliminary final with an upset win against powerful Echuca United, but fell agonisingly short of a grand final position, losing by a single point to Tongala after leading at three-quarter-time. But with a pair of Strathmerton premiership players boosting the club’s depth, plus Goulburn Valley League premiership coach Sean Harrap on board to drop knowledge, the Blues should again be in the premiership conversation. Jye Warren, who will co-coach the side with Harrap, said the former Shepparton gaffer had brought plenty to the role. “He’s really brought a world of knowledge to the club, he’s tweaked things a bit and a fresh

voice is great for the guys,” Warren said. “I’ve been there for four years, Numurkah through and through, so they’re probably sick of hearing my voice and a bit over it. “Sean’s brought fresh ideas, he’s won a flag with Shepparton and has a great resume, and a good rapport with the players.” The Blues will be without runner-up best and fairest Michael Herlihy who has moved to Bendigo for work, while Tim Arnel and Ben Gunning will also not play, the former living in England while the latter has retired. But Zach Wagner and Travis Down have returned to the club, bringing Strathmerton youngsters Trent Baker and Trent Craven with them to try their hand at Murray league football.

“That was where we found we struggled, depth. Every club has injuries and when you don’t have the players to step up you struggle as a whole,” Warren said. “Trav kicked 51 goals including finals last season and that’s something we lacked, small forwards, our midfielders kicked all our goals.

“I reckon our goal for this year is to keep really honing in on our juniors — we were lucky enough to have four 17-year-olds play finals and two 15-year-olds play regularly throughout the year. We want to enjoy ourselves and have fun, but we want to play finals, we don’t shy away from that.”

After a promising 2018, it is fair to say the wheels fell off the Numurkah netball train last season. A mass exodus left the club with a particularly young A-grade squad that managed just two wins, a far cry from the previous year when they banked 14 wins and progressed to a preliminary final. The Blues have appointed Rachelle Moon as A-grade coach, who brings coaching experience at LockingtonBamawm United and senior playing experience from Tatura and Rochester to the role, replacing co-coaches Tracey Commadeur and Mary Morrison. “I feel that Numurkah’s in a rebuild phase,” Moon said. “Rosie Arnel is returning from injury, which is fantastic news for us and her. “We’ll also have plenty of new faces around the club.” –ALEX MITCHELL

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Trent Baker, Trent Craven, Travis Down, Zach Wagner (Strathmerton). OUT: Tim Arnel (travel), Ben Gunning (retired), Michael Herlihy (South Bendigo).

Travis Down

CO-COACHES: JYE WARREN AND SEAN HARRAP MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 1932, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1962, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1999, 2000 2019 FINISH: THIRD (13–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BEAU MCKEOWN 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MICHAEL HERLIHY GROUND: NUMURKAH SHOWGROUNDS NICKNAME: BLUES

COACH: RACHELLE MOON 2019 FINISH: 13TH (2–16)

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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

RUMBALARA NETBALL

FOOTBALL

Unfinished business — that is the theme of Rumbalara’s A-grade netball campaign.

After a 2019 season that promised the world but delivered an atlas, Rumbalara is out to turn things around. Coming off a narrow preliminary final loss to eventual-premier Nathalia in 2018, Rumba looked poised for a premiership assault last season, but instead managed just five wins, missing finals and sliding down the ladder to tenth. But with familiar faces back in the line-up — former premiership players Dylan Kerr and Ryan Hudson among them — and key forward Daniel Lewis added to lead the line, things are looking up. Kane Atkinson, who will co-coach the side with Jason Traianidis, said the squad had been well and truly bolstered. “The big aim was trying to get players back playing at the club, and a big part of recruiting was trying to get local guys,” Atkinson said. “We had a lot in Melbourne last year and we were a bit too split for training. We’ve still got a few in Melbourne, but it has been a bit better. “We had a lack of goalkicking power, and Daniel Lewis has played some quality footy over the years. “He’s played at Mooroopna, played NTFL, and he’s captained

Vic Country. “He’s 36, but he’s still got a bit in him.” The continued emergence of youngsters including Kian Wise, Kyal Atkinson and Jayk Papoulis will be worth keeping an eye on, Wise in particular catching the eye last season with 22 goals. Atkinson expected a big bounceback year from his troops. “To play finals you need to aim for around 10 wins, and we want to be pushing for finals, after missing last year which was disappointing after making the prelim,” he said. “We were still in games, but we lost maybe six games by less than two goals, but just couldn’t find a way to get over the line.”

The side lost two games last season, both by a single goal and both to Echuca United — and one happened to be in the preliminary final. “It’s been a big motivation for all of us after the finals last year and that hurtful loss, then seeing Echuca United go on and win the grand final,” coach Jess Bamblett said. “I think we will bounce back pretty strong; we’ve recruited pretty well again, and we hope to be up there in finals again.” But with league best and fairest Elenoa Naimalua, Klarindah Hudson and Bamblett all back in the line-up to give Rumba the league’s most dangerous trio, expect it right back at the top of the table. “It just comes down to the last minutes, because we were six goals up on Echuca going into the last quarter,” Bamblett said. “We just need to focus on keeping our energy and getting that list little bit out of the tank.”

Elenoa Naimalua

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Dylan Kerr, Nathan Kerr (Deniliquin Rovers), Daniel Lewis (Rosebud), Anthony Walker (Tatura), Ryan Hudson. OUT: Rex Taylor (Elmore).

–ALEX MITCHELL

Kian Wise

CO-COACHES: KANE ATKINSON AND JASON TRAIANIDIS MFL PREMIERSHIPS: 2014 2019 FINISH: 12TH (5–13) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ASH MILLER 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: CLAYTON MCCARTNEY (34) GROUND: MERCURY DRIVE SPORTS COMPLEX NICKNAME: RUMBA

COACH: JESSICA BAMBLETT 2019 FINISH: THIRD (18–2)

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MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

TONGALA BLUES NETBALL

FOOTBALL

By its own admission, Tongala exceeded expectations after narrowly missing finals in 2019. But now it wants more.

Few could have seen the wave of momentum for the Tongala Football Club in the latter stages of 2019 coming. Hanging around the top four for most of the years, the Blues got on a roll in the final weeks of the season, leading to an unlikely grand final appearance against the might of Nathalia. While the Blues were unable to get past the Purples on the final day of the season, the quick turnaround of the senior side and a reserves premiership has confidence at an all-time high heading into 2020. Coach Jordan Souter said his club was ready for the challenge of the new season. “There’s a really good feeling among the playing group,” Souter said. “We have a pretty similar playing list for this season as we did last year, everyone is on the same page about what our intentions are and what

we want to achieve out of the year. “It’s a pretty exciting time for us as a club.” The club has not looked far to strengthen their list, with several former players returning to the club, including former best and fairest winner Jack Monigatti. Souter said the club was excited to welcome back players who already showed the values of the football club. “We’ve brought back players like Shannon Tucker and Will Nevil as well,” he said. “It’s always great to have local boys back at the club, especially ones who have gone on and done things at other clubs where they can bring back their experience and help to grow the team. “We’ve also got a strong group moving up from the thirds into

senior football, we’ve seen a couple of extra locals coming to training as well. “It’s great to see the Tongala community embrace the club.” Souter said the final stages of 2019 showed the club what it was capable of, though he believed there was still room for improvement. “We made a grand final, but for most of the year we were around the five to seven area on the ladder,” he said. “We showed later in the year we could go further, so we know what we are capable of. “It’s more of a question of whether we can be consistent and stay at the top end of the ladder for the full season.”

With Tongala’s young talent having taken their first steps into senior netball, new coach Paige Wade has recruited strongly to accelerate her team’s development. Echuca United premiership player Amelia Brock is the headline inclusion, while Olivia Taverna and Georgia Watt have crossed from Moama and Kyabram respectively. There has also been some change from within with Tracey Hughes returning to the court following a year off and Rose Hammond making the step up from under-17s. And Wade is looking forward to the season getting under way. “There’s a good feeling among our group at the moment,” Wade said. “The level of training has been really good, but everyone just can’t wait to get out on the court in an actual game situation. “I think the talent we’ve brought in complements what we already had. The experienced girls will certainly make a big difference for our younger players.”

Jack Monigatti

–BRAYDEN MAY

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Rhys Denham (Lake Boga), Malcolm Hedges (Lancaster), Jack Monigatti (Nightcliff ), Will Nevill (Springvale District), Shannon Tucker (Girgarre), Bailey Waasdorp (Darley). OUT: Tyson Di Petta (Girgarre), Stephen Phillips (Lancaster), Tim Strapp (Lancaster).

Tracey Hughes

COACH: JORDAN SOUTER MFL PREMIERSHIPS: NONE 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (11–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JACK HAMMOND 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MAKENZIE RYAN (38) GROUND: TONGALA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BLUES

COACH: PAIGE WADE 2019 FINISH: 10TH (7–11)

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Football and Netball 2020 53


MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE

TUNGAMAH BEARS NETBALL

FOOTBALL

While it hasn’t been easy going for Tungamah’s netballers in the Murray league, the enthusiasm is showing no signs of waning.

After losing its most valuable asset, Tungamah will be looking to find some more contributors as it continues to battle in the Murray league. Former co-coach Bodhi Butts, who finished second and third in the league best and fairest in his two last seasons, has vacated the nest, heading to Mulwala and leaving the Bears in search of a new co-coach to pair with veteran head honcho David Putamorsi. That man is Terence Jones, and Putamorsi said the talent had brought plenty to the role after Butts’ departure. “It was disappointing and it’s probably set us back a bit,” he said. “But Terence has brought enthusiasm to the role, he’s at that age where he gets along really well with the playing group. It can be a bit hard for blokes our age, you can be a bit out of the loop with recruiting and signings. “To have someone like Terence, a local, is great because he has a lot of respect. He was the first person we went to.” There is a degree of talent heading to Jubilee Park with Harry McBurnie, Ben Irvine, Mitch Adkins, Brady Hayes all Jeremy Kelly signing on the Tungamah dotted line, although big-time

goal-kicker Duane Haebich and prodigy Nick Irvine have headed the other way. Along with Jones, the Bears will look to Nick Lawless and Jeremy O’Brien to lead the way and drive the club forward, the trio all producing strong football last season. After grinding their way to a finals appearance last season with a 9–9 record, the Bears are keen to double down and once again get to the post- season — and perhaps do a little damage once there. “We set ourselves the goal of making finals and we’re aiming to do that again,” Putamorsi said. “Whether we do remains to be seen, but we’ll definitely be competitive. We’ve got some good top-end talent, but there’s some really good kids at the club too.”

Nick Lawless

Tahnee Pearce

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Harry McBurnie, Ben Irvine, Mitch Adkins, Brady Hayes, Jeremy Kelly. OUT: Corey Bourke, Duane Haebich (Tocumwal), Bodhi Butts (Mulwala), Nick Irvine (Yarrawonga), Kade Rowe (Tocumwal). CO-COACHES: TERENCE JONES AND DAVID PUTAMORSI MFL PREMIERSHIPS: NONE 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (9–10) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ASH SAUNDERS 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: NICK LAWLESS (52) GROUND: JUBILEE PARK NICKNAME: BEARS

“For the first time I can ever remember at Tungamah we’ve actually had to turn people away, which while that’s unfortunate, it does show good interest,” coach Jenny Buerckner said. Buerckner will coach the club with Jayanna Sharp, the duo crossing over from Yarrawonga with the latter to star on the court. “It’s awesome to have her at the club as coach, and she’s got some beautiful height that will really help the team,” she said. While the Bears managed just two wins last year, Buerckner expected the side would keep battling. “We were really worried about numbers, but it’s fantastic considering this was our fourth year in the Murray league, and it’s very tough being just a little country town,” she said. “The talent we’ve had has been good, and we just hope to pull together a few more wins to keep the morale up.” –ALEX MITCHELL

CO-COACHES: JENNY BUERCKNER AND JAYANNA SHARP 2019 FINISH: 12TH (2–16)

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NORTHERN COUNTRY WOMEN’S LEAGUE

Interleague action will be fierce once again.

SEASON FULL OF FIRSTS IS ON THE CARDS Another Northern Country Women’s League footy season is on the horizon. And as last year showed — with the mighty Mooroopna Cats toppling undefeated Echuca in a grand final upset — anything is possible. This season, Shepparton United will join the ranks, providing spectators and fans with plenty of opportunities to get behind new talent. The news comes on the back of Kerang exiting the league after last season due to issues with travel times, recruitment and retention of players. The league’s operations manager Cruze O’Shea said a new sponsor, At Work Australia, had come on board, signing a three-year deal and gaining the naming rights to the preseason cup at Rochester. There’s also some exciting fixturing going on, with 18 out of 20 game days matching up with the Goulburn Valley League — a move expected to draw larger crowds to the women’s games. The league grand final will be held on August 23, the same day as the Shepparton District Junior Football League grand finals.

O’Shea said there was also talk of having women’s night games on the same days as GVL under-16, under-18 and seniors’ games to boost crowd numbers. He said with six out of eight clubs within half an hour of Shepparton or in Shepparton this season, it would be a great year for women’s footy. Teams from the NCWL and the AFL Central Victorian league will also be playing against each other in an interleague clash on May 24. In a move sure to get crowds down for a pint and a parmi, Comfort Inn Peppermill across the road from the league’s headquarters will be the new function partner next season, with Plus Fitness Shepparton joining as the new Rising Star sponsor. Round one will kick off on April 19 across the region ahead of what is sure to be an action-packed season of footy. – SPENCER FOWLER STEEN Kayla Shepherd and Molly Tancred

Football and Netball 2020 55


JUNIOR FOOTY

Star snap: One of the best pictures of the year was taken after the Youth Girls grand final, of Shepparton’s Ella Henery

CHANGES POSITIVE FOR THE GAME GOING FORWARD Shepparton District Junior Football League president Mark Lambourn says he is confident the competition is equipped to tackle the demands and challenges that a new Goulburn Valley League under-16 football competition will bring. Lambourn, who took over the reins of the competition late last year, said the past decade had undergone massive changes to its structure, and the advent of a GVL under-16 Saturday competition would not detract from the sport. “The game is all about opportunity and development, but also common-sense, so we know a club with teams in each competition is going to have fluctuating lists week to week, so the opportunity to play in either competition is going to be there, but with some limits,” Lambourn said. “It’s been a huge evolution really — when you look at it over the past 10 years. “We’ve gone from primary school-based under-10s and under-12s into a restructure that is now a huge part of our competition, the introduction of girls’ football and now

Support is always strong in the SDJFL

56 Football and Netball 2020

working through the under-16 GVL change. “No matter what changes occur, we are well-equipped to come up with ways in collaborating and making both competitions work. This is about maintaining that opportunity for all kids to play, and really the GVL competition adds another layer of opportunity there.” At a lengthy SDJFL delegates meeting at Kialla earlier this year, robust discussion centred around the restrictions and challenges clubs will face in fielding under-16 teams in the Shepparton junior Sunday competition, and the new GVL Saturday competition. The major issues covered were the complexities between rules governing permits, transfers or clearances between leagues and specifically down from a major league to a minor one. Although some clubs will have two teams, they will effectively play in two competitions. Delegates discussed recommendations the board made to the GVL regarding the nomination of a minimum number of players by June 30 that are to be declared GVL-only representatives of their club. While the discussion was robust and varied, delegates agreed to put forward individual submissions to the SDJFL board but were largely united in their desire to ensure players of all abilities would get to play the game. The SDJFL has already engaged in talks with the GVL and is working through rules between the two competitions, so clubs who have teams entered in both, maintain a fair approach to the spirit of the game.

One suggestion is for clubs to nominate, not publicly, their top list of GVL players who are committed only to that competition, so restricting mass clearances and transfers to protect the integrity of each competition. Lambourn said the aim of this year was to also learn from how the two competitions interacted side by side, and that knowledge would impact how next year played out. “This will be a learning year, but it’s not unlike when we adopted the cluster structure for under-10s and 12s or the girls’ competition,” he said. “We’ll learn from that and adopt the common-sense changes as a result.” The Youth Girls’ competition will have the addition of the Shepparton Swans and SGR Giants to the league this season. The league also announced the retention of its two major naming rights sponsors. The SDJFL Brokerhouse Under-14 Competition will again have the support of local businessmen Andrew Westblade and Paul Mazzella. And the SDJFL Keatings Under-16 Competition will have the support of Ken Keating and family for the 38th consecutive season. Pizza Hut will sponsor the under-10 and under-12 competitions with Hot and Cold Shop Shepparton, while MBCM continues as Youth Girls sponsor. – ED MCLEISH


UMPIRES

2019 GVL grand final umpires

MORE UMPS NEEDED TO ENJOY SPARKLING NEW FACILITIES The Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association will move its headquarters to Kialla Park Recreation Reserve this season, when upgrades to the oval and facilities are completed. The oval deck has finished its development, while the changerooms are halfway through construction and expected to be completed by April. AFL Goulburn Murray regional director of umpiring Cruze O’Shea said members were “sentimental” about leaving Chas Johnson Reserve as its Shepparton base. “We’ve been at Chas Johnson Reserve for more than 60 years, but we can’t wait to get down and have an actual oval to train on,” O’Shea said. “Even though there’s sentimental value at our old place, we plan on taking the history with us to our new reserve.” “It’s an unreal surface and fully female friendly.” The association is looking for more umpires, as numbers have been at around half of what the Goulburn Valley leagues require in the lead-up to the season. O’Shea said the association was “quite a way off ” the umpiring numbers they needed, as there were only 140 registered umpires out of the 270 to run the competition at the time of writing. “There’s a good indication that people are wanting to stay involved, the retention rate is good,” he said. “We could always do with more. “Last year, we had 211 over the whole season, so we had to grab people from over the boundary and volunteer — people

were then getting crook about the standard of umpiring.” O’Shea said every game needed multiple umpires, as it was “too much” for one umpire to do a game by themselves. When it came to the issue of lifting umpiring standards, O’Shea said there were grassroots-level programs in place on recruiting kids from schools. O’Shea said this year there was also a coaching restructure in place; nine coaches had been put on the panel instead of three like last year. “We’ll also give coaches more time to see the umpires,

both on the day and in match reviews,” O’Shea said. According to O’Shea, there were about 15 registered female umpires. “We’re under-represented, but at least another four have shown up to training,” he said. “We’re always on the look-out (for more).” If you are interested in umpiring, phone O’Shea on 0458 208 972. – ED MCLEISH

New home at Kialla Reserve

Football and Netball 2020 57


SHEPPARTON NETBALL ASSOCIATION

SUPER COACH WILL SHARE HER SKILLS The Shepparton Netball Association is in for another blockbuster season, with heaps in store for players, coaches and fans alike. SNA president Tracey Toy said high-performance, ex-Vixens “super coach” Julie Hoornweg would be running a 12-week program teaching 20 coaches from the association. “I’m super excited to have secured Julie as a coaching mentor,” she said. “She’s travelled the world and has recently returned from coaching in Wales.” Toy said Hoornweg would be attending club trainings and game days, with expressions of interest now open for coaches at SNA keen on learning a thing or two from the netball great. SNA’s new Greater Shepparton Secondary College Netball Club has already notched a number of player registrations, and will be fielding new teams. They’re even sporting a new-look dress. Toy said new teams were streaming in from Euroa, Kyabram and Shepparton Christian College, all ready to tackle the new season. For netball players who may have just missed out on making football teams such as the Bears, Swans

or United, Toy had a clear message. “Kids shouldn’t be embarrassed to play netball,” she said. “Don’t give up on the sport that you love. “Doesn’t matter what ability you have, being part of a team and participating is what it’s about.” The SNA umpiring sub-committee is also busy mentoring, with the next batch of umpires ready to be tested to become C-grade umpires, an important step-up in their leadership development. Toy also said many club rooms would be freshened up next season after receiving a grant from the Apprenticeship Factory. “It would be great for families to help out their clubs, whether that’s in canteen duties or cheering them on and keeping the positivity high,” she said. “For fans and families, be positive on the sidelines and respect the code of conduct because It affects our players.” The regular season will start after Easter with a SNA tournament following soon after. – SPENCER FOWLER STEEN

Julie Hoornweg

The Four Sportsmen Tune in to The Four Sportsmen podcast available every Thursday from 12pm as the Shepparton News sports team discuss all of the hot topics across the football and netball competitions of the region.

Tyler, Alex, Aydin and Liam — along with a regularly revolving door of special guests and local sporting stars – will guide you through the top news of the week, and have plenty fun while they’re at it.

sheppnews.com.au/the-four-sportsmen

58 Football and Netball 2020

Starts April 2


NAB LEAGUE

FOCUS IS ON PRODUCING TOP TALENT A breakout season from halfback prodigy Lachie Ash saw the Invergordon product scooped up in pick four of the AFL draft by Greater Western Sydney Giants — a milestone achievement that Murray Bushrangers coach Mark Brown hopes to replicate five-fold come the end of the season. Returning to the helm for another year, Brown’s emphasis on players’ progress remains unchanged from his maiden season in charge, hoping to see more Bushrangers transcend the NAB League for the AFL. “In all honesty, we don’t focus on where we finish; the program is focused on producing kids who are draftable,” he said. “We have more top-end talent at our disposal than last year, and hopefully we will have four or five kids get drafted at the end of the year.” Brown noted a host of talent including Ash had departed Norm Minns Oval but reconciled that notion with the fact a drove of skilled bottomagers would make the transition to lead the playing group this year. While all will be vying to stamp their authority on the competition, Brown hinted at powerful half back Harry Beasley and Shepparton United pair Kade Chalcraft and Zavier Maher as names to look out for amongst the promising new crop. “It is always hard to tell how the side will shape up as this isn’t your traditional competition, it is not so much about winning or losing but more about development,” he said. “In saying that, we have a lot more top-age talent so I think we will be stronger than last year; however, we haven’t seen what any of the opposition will be like.” Meanwhile, there has been plenty of promise on the female front, with Mooroopna revelation Millie Brown’s inclusion in Geelong’s side for 2020 highlighting the current women’s talent in the region. In addition to Brown’s feat, fellow Bushranger Grace Egan will also wear blue during the upcoming AFLW season after being drafted by Carlton late last year. Coach Mario de Santa-ana eluded to the positive effect such departures have for the current group, mentioning the inspiration it provides for the squad’s younger members. “Millie is one of the leaders, we have girls from 13 to 18 years old in our squad who tend to follow those girls and they get a buzz when they see them in interviews and playing on TV.”

Zavier Maher

– LIAM NASH

Keeley Skepper JOINED NAB LEAGUE: 1993 GROUND: NORM MINNS OVAL, WANGARATTA COACH: MARK BROWN TALENT MANAGER: MICK WILSON PREMIERSHIPS: 1998, 2008 GRAND FINAL MEDALLISTS: M. STEVENS (1998), S. SIDEBOTTOM (2008) MORRISH MEDALLISTS: D. MURRAY (1997), F. PRIEST (2008), C. OLIVER (2015) 2019 FINISH: NINTH (6–9) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JYE CHALCRAFT AND JIMMY BOYER 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: HUDSON KAAK (19)

Football and Netball 2020 59


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

PREDICTING TOP SIX ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE

PAST PREMIERS

Has there ever been more excitement surrounding the start of a Kyabram District League season? Shane Crawford has Ardmona Recreation Reserve buzzing, while a host of inclusions at Violet Town – including another former AFL face in Jared Brennan – should have the Towners right up the top of the table. But across the entire competition squads look to have strengthened, leaving the task of predicting a top six an almost

impossible one at this stage of the season. In the netball ranks Stanhope should again be the benchmark that all other teams look to meet, even without superstar Chicky Barr on board. Watch for Girgarre to climb the table after a huge recruiting spree, while perennial finalists Nagambie and Tallygaroopna will

again present a tough challenge for opposition sides every week. The junior ranks of the league are also set to swell with the addition of under-12 football and under-11 netball competitions, a positive sign for the health of the KDL moving forward. – TYLER MAHER

2019: Nagambie (football) and Stanhope (netball) 2018: Tallygaroopna and Nagambie 2017: Nagambie and Nagambie 2016: Nagambie and Avenel 2015: Merrigum and Nagambie 2014: Nagambie and Lancaster 2013: Murchison and Rushworth 2012: Violet Town and Nagambie 2011: Lancaster and Stanhope 2010: Nagambie and Lancaster

WARREN MEDALLISTS 2019: Chicky Barr (Stanhope) 2018: Chicky Barr (Stanhope) 2017: Sharni Lloyd (Nagambie) 2016: Kathryn Hard (Avenel) 2015: Renee Lea (Merrigum) 2014: Ellie Lothian (Lancaster) 2013: Sharni Lloyd (Rushworth) 2012: Gemma Barry (Nagambie) 2011: Michelle Hill (Lancaster) 2010: Sharni Lloyd (Nagambie)

MCNAMARA MEDALLISTS Nagambie

Stanhope

ARDMONA

NETBALL

The excitement Shane Crawford has brought to Ardmona Recreation Reserve over summer has certainly spilled over to the netball ranks. Jimmie Trazzera will take charge of the A-grade side this season and is looking forward to a more competitive year on court across the grades. “We are averaging 25 to 30 seniors at training each week,” Trazzera said. “We have picked up some great players in the off-season and our teams are looking a lot stronger and hopefully will be very competitive this season. “We are looking forward to a good year.” The Bush Cats will test themselves against Violet Town in round one.

Katherine Bice

FOOTBALL

Ardmona’s prayers were answered late last year when it was reinstated into the Kyabram District League. Now, ahead of the club’s centenary season and with 1999 Brownlow medallist Shane Crawford on board, the real hard work begins. “I’m just pumped for everyone involved with the club,” Crawford said when the good news broke. “They’re so passionate and they wanted to stay alive so much, so that was nice for them. “Especially to happen just before Christmas and now we can be chasing players right over Christmas.” But although a first senior football victory since July 2015 is what everyone involved with the Bush Cats craves, Crawford knows that reality may still be a while away yet.

2019: Kaine Herbert (Undera) 2018: Kaine Herbert (Undera) 2017: Sam Poole (Violet Town) 2016: Kasey Duncan (Avenel) 2015: Don Stirling (Avenel) 2014: Mick Shiels (Nagambie) 2013: Josh Pell (Merrigum) 2012: Russell Lee (Violet Town) 2011: Steve Thomson (Lancaster) 2010: Troy Snelson (Girgarre)

“It’s not necessarily about trying to win as many games as possible, it’s about how we can get back on track and hold the club in good stead to make sure it’s around in another 100 years,” he said. “From the league’s point of view, I do understand it, they’re doing their best to make the league function. “Ardmona needs to lift, but I think everything is in place. We just want to have some good fun, and everyone is welcome at the club. “I’m very aware (about the hard work ahead), but I’m looking forward to it, it’s exciting. “I’m in a position to be able to do it, it’s the first time after my football career I’ve been in a position to dedicate myself to being involved with the football club. “I’ve watched them for about four years, and I’ve been very curious, but it’s now or never.

LADDER PREDICTION FOOTBALL 1: Violet Town 2: Avenel 3: Lancaster 4: Girgarre 5: Nagambie 6: Murchison-Toolamba 7: Merrigum 8: Tallygaroopna 9: Rushworth 10: Stanhope 11: Dookie United 12: Undera 13: Shepparton East 14: Longwood 15: Ardmona

NETBALL 1: Stanhope 2: Nagambie 3: Dookie United 4: Girgarre 5: Merrigum 6: Tallygaroopna 7: Murchison-Toolamba 8: Shepparton East 9: Lancaster 10: Undera 11: Avenel 12: Violet Town 13:Rushworth 14: Longwood 15: Ardmona

“I don’t like losing very much, so that will be rough, but we just need to try and be more competitive. It needs to be a fun destination where players can learn. “Let’s not just blaze away, let’s play with a system and a team-first attitude, and try and kick some goals and compete a bit better.”

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Shane Crawford (Aldinga), Brenton Northausen, Joel Bunce (Girgarre), Will Bryant, Trent Corby (Tallygaroopna), Aaron McKay, Travis Sinclair, Toby Engledow (Shepparton East), Elijah Firebrace (Rumbalara), Declan Connors (Katandra), Tyler Stevens (Mooroopna), Shaun McAllister (Katunga), Damien Carmody (Colbinabbin), Cameron Hall (Fitzroy Stars), Frank Guligo (Glenrowan Kelly Tigers), John Creighton OUT: Riley Dryden (Undera), Daniel Hatton (Bonnie Doon), Frederick Maclean NETBALL COACH: JIMMIE TRAZZERA 2019 FINISH: 15TH (0–16)

60 Football and Netball 2020

Tim Keegan

FOOTBALL COACH: SHANE CRAWFORD 2019 FINISH: 15TH (0–16) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: CAINE ATKINSON 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: CAINE ATKINSON (10) GROUND: ARDMONA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BUSH CATS


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

AVENEL

NETBALL

Returning for another season under the watchful eye of Jacinta Jamison, Avenel is hard at work to take major strides up the ladder this year. Following their efforts last year, Jamison said her squad had the potential to be a top-six side. And it’s not hard to see why, with the building blocks put in place last off-season, though further fine-tuning was needed to get better traction on court, particularly through their combination work and intensity with the ball. But another year together should solidify those connections, with club best-and-fairest Nicole Lord set to build on strong performances in goals, as too will Tegan McCarthy, while defenders Nichole Hanson and Bonnie Dawson add plenty to the Swans’ backcourt. And with a solid junior program coming to the fore, including a league best-and-fairest win to under-17 Alisha Franklin, the depth at the Swans is looking better than ever.

FOOTBALL

Making its intentions clear a top-two finish and premiership run were the yardstick last year, a rock-solid homeand-away campaign saw Avenel shape as a serious a contender. But plans can be derailed and an elimination final loss at the hands of Lancaster saw the Swans unexpectedly bundled out of finals in the first weekend of September. Returning coach Kasey Duncan said the team’s early exit had been a disappointing end to the season but remained positive in the Swans’ overall position in the league. “It (elimination final) didn’t go to plan. Lancaster were the better team on the

– MEG SAULTRY

IN: Wayne Pavitt (Port Douglas, AFL Cairns), Josh Aikens (Shepparton), Jak Hancock (Chelsea Heights), Ryland Head (Trentham), Max Jones, Tom Martin, Jordan Zuccala (Seymour), Max Lawrence (Bonnie Doon), Todd Lawrence (Harrow-Balmoral) OUT: Garrett Davies (AFL Queensland), Michael Tinkler (Romsey), Sam Durnan (Finley), Angus Durnan, Scott Taylor

DOOKIE UNITED

NETBALL

TAC Cup level. He’ll give big Paul (Arandt) a break in the ruck,” Duncan said. “And Max is a very athletic and versatile player.” And following a strong recruiting period, the Swans have also covered losses to their forward line. Wayne Pavitt, a past KDL leading goalkicker at Dookie, returns to the competition after a stint in the Sunshine State and should form a strong partnership with GVL reserves leading goal-kicker, Max Jones.

PLAYER CHANGES

NETBALL COACH: JACINTA JAMISON 2019 FINISH: 11TH (6–10)

It may have a new coach at the helm, but Dookie United’s goals for the upcoming Kyabram District League season remain the same. The Thunder will be trying to go one step further than last year’s runner-up finish under new mentor Maddison Owen. “It’s the first time I’ve coached netball, I’ve coached a bit of basketball before,” Owen said. “It will be interesting, but it should be fun.” Although eventual premier Stanhope was the only side to defeat the Thunder last year, Owen will not be focused on the Lions. “We definitely want to go one better, it will be a tough season and it always is, but we’re looking forward to it,” she said. “I think we just need to try and put together the best side we can and play our own brand of netball. You don’t want to come off the court at the end of the year thinking you could have done more.” Laura Henderson and Amanda Phillips exit Dookie’s A-grade squad,

day and played a better brand of finals footy,” Duncan said. “But you move forward. “We have similar goals again this season. We know it’s hard to win a premiership in this competition sitting outside the top two — that’s where we need to finish. “We know what the benchmark is to go further into September. We’re happy with the way we’re shaping up.” While the Swans were forced to cover the departures of former captain Michael Tinkler and key position players, Sam and Angus Durnan, it’s the return of local boys Todd and Max Lawrence that has Duncan excited for the season ahead. “Todd was very strong in the under-18

while Kayla McMullan will step up from the B-grade ranks alongside new inclusion Gemma O’Sullivan. McMullan will slot into the defensive third for the Thunder, with O’Sullivan rolling through the mid-court and attacking third.

Kasey Duncan and Jacinta Jamison

FOOTBALL COACH: KASEY DUNCAN 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (14–3) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BRAYDON AVOLA 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: KASEY DUNCAN (58) GROUND: AVENEL RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: SWANS

FOOTBALL

Dookie United looks to be on the way back up the Kyabram District League table this season. After winning a final in its first KDL campaign, the Thunder dropped to 10th last year — but coach Brendan McMullan is confident his troops can once again challenge the top six. “It’s the goal every year to try and make finals, all the other sides will have that same goal as well,” he said. “We definitely expect to improve on last year’s position, and I reckon there will be a fair few sides battling for that top six.” That quest will certainly be helped by the Thunder’s recruiting drive, which centred around luring former players back to the club. Will Patone (one game), Andrew O’Connor (three) and Kyle Tapscott (10) will have full seasons in a Dookie United

jumper after varying levels of input last year, while Tim Kelly (Rumbalara) and Liam Hernan (Goorambat) will join a strong contingent of Shepparton inclusions. “We’ve been pretty settled,” McMullan said. “We’ve got a couple of new blokes on board this year and a few that were overseas, Zach McKinnis, Lenny O’Sullivan and Rhys O’Sullivan (are coming over from Shepparton). “We’ve had pretty good numbers really, there’s been new faces every night and the boys are putting in the hard yards. “It’s a long pre-season too with a late Easter this year so we’ll have to keep it interesting.”

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES Maddison Owen NETBALL COACH: MADDISON OWEN 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (16–3)

IN: Rhys O’Sullivan, Zach McKinnis, Lenny O’Sullivan (Shepparton), Tim Kelly (Rumbalara), Liam Hernan (Goorambat), Will Patone, Andy O’Connor OUT: Nil

Will Patone

FOOTBALL COACH: BRENDAN MCMULLAN 2019 FINISH: 10TH (5–11) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: PAT MCMULLAN 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BEN KELLY (30) GROUND: DOOKIE RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: THUNDER

Football and Netball 2020 61


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

GIRGARRE

NETBALL

The dawn of a new netball era at Girgarre looks set to break over the Kyabram District League horizon this season under new coach Abby Pettifer. The Kangaroos have been busy on the recruiting front — adding the likes of top-end talent Holly Butler, Pip Inglis, Bec Squires, Sheridan Barnes, Dani Jones and Zena Hoyling to the list — but have also retained almost their entire squad from last year. It means along with a supreme A-grade and B-grade contingent Girgarre will have a C-reserve side for what Pettifer believes is the first time in the club’s history this campaign. “It’s been really good, a lot of girls have wanted to come and play here, which is great,” Pettifer said. “Definitely our major goal is to make finals, we missed by about two games last year. “We had about 45 girls trial, and all the sides have 10 or 11 players in them, so we don’t think we’ve ever had a C-reserve side before, and our B-grade side will be the strength of our A-grade from last year. “It’s really exciting and positive

FOOTBALL

for the club.” As for her own campaign, Pettifer is looking forward to being back on the court in a full-time capacity. “I’ve really enjoyed being back out there and coming back from a knee and having a baby,” she said. “Hopefully I can bring some of my experience across and put in place some new structures. “We’re going to be super-competitive this season and have a red-hot crack.”

– TYLER MAHER

Abby Pettifer COACH: ABBY PETTIFER 2019 FINISH: NINTH (7–9)

LANCASTER

NETBALL

A young Lancaster squad will look to climb into Kyabram District League finals contention this season under new mentor Rod O’Neill. “I reckon we’re going to be competitive, we’ve got a great young side together,” he said. O’Neill has coaching experience at A-grade Goulburn Valley League level, but is returning to the top-tier caper for the first time in a while. “I coached Ky (Kyabram) A-grade a fair few years ago now and been involved with the juniors at Lancy,” he said. “But probably more in the football the past few years.” Caddison Mulholland and Bridie

Whitford have joined the Wombats from Tongala ahead of the new campaign, adding to a stable squad. O’Neill’s focus will be to get the basics right to lay a platform for success — in the short and long term. “We’ve kept most of the squad together which is good,” he said. “The goal for us is to just be competitive, the last few years we’ve been around the 10th spot mark, so we want to push up from there and aim for fifth or sixth. “We’ll try and fix the skills and the rest will come.”

Caddison Mulholland COACH: ROD O’NEILL 2019 FINISH: 10TH (6–10)

62 Football and Netball 2020

he said. Billy Barnes is hoping he can bring Girgarre “We divided the squad into four different some success in his first gig as senior coach. As well as recruiting a strong contingent teams, AFLX style, and play a game simulation at the end of every training. of stars, Barnes has also welcomed the likes of Wayne Deledio, Nick Mellington, Angus “It’s really excited the boys.” McDonald and Brendan Baumann into his Losing outgoing coach Shannon Tucker is not ideal for the side’s fortunes, but inner sanctum to help mentor his initial coaching exploits in Kyabram District League. among a list of seven key inclusions is one which will be hard to miss out on the “It’s a great opportunity being a first-time coach,” Barnes said. field — towering ruckman Jake Reeves. “Shannon is a massive loss, he’s been “I’ve always aspired to take that next step in the football world and I’m lucky a great asset to Girgarre, and he will be sadly missed, but if he ever changed his enough that Girgarre has given me that opportunity. mind, we’d welcome him back with open “I’ve surrounded myself with plenty arms,” Barnes said. “Jake seems to think he’ll play most of help in Wayne and Mick and blokes like that. “The last time Girgarre was successful and of the season. From a physical point of view, he’s going to be in good stead for the start played finals was back in Wayne’s playing days about 20 years ago, which is a really of the season. long drought. “Compared to the GV (Goulburn Valley League) the KD isn’t as physical, there’s “It would be great to bring some success not as many big bodies, so we’re probably back to the club, it’s a great family club and a great social club and it deserves it.” going to get more out of him at this level.” Barnes has already put his own spin The proposition of Girgarre getting on things before the season has even begun, “more out of” Reeves — a multiple with a fresh take on summer training premiership and best afield medal-winning gun — should certainly send shivers helping to energise his Kangaroos. “We’ve tried to get the balance right this down the collective spine of the rest pre-season (between fun and hard work),” of the competition.

Billy Barnes

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Jake Reeves, Mitch Smith (Kyabram), Byron Dryden (Dalyston), Jordan Clarke, Sam Neil (Old Scotch), Jesse Anderson (MurchisonToolamba), Tyson DiPetta (Tongala) OUT: Shannon Tucker (Tongala)

FOOTBALL COACH: BILLY BARNES 2019 FINISH: NINTH (8–8) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BILLY BARNES 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: RYAN BUTLER (50) GROUND: GIRGARRE RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: KANGAROOS

FOOTBALL

Lancaster’s recent evolution into a genuine Kyabram District League premiership contender has been clear for all to see. After just missing finals in 2016, the Wombats broke through to finish sixth (2017) and fourth (2018) in consecutive seasons but were tipped out of the finals race at the first hurdle on both occasions. Last year Corey Carver’s charges took another step — two in fact — to win through to the preliminary final, and the group is keen to climb at least another rung in 2020. “We hope (the progression continues),” Carver said. “That was sort of what we figured out two or three years ago that we were just outside the finals, so we wanted to get in there and then win one, we were lucky enough last year to make it to a prelim. “We’ll have to work had to maintain and improve on that; it looks like the comp is getting stronger across the board.” The Wombats have kept their core senior group together and added plenty of class across the field, the perfect recipe for progression in any competition. “Numbers have been good on the track, most of the list has been retained so that

helps,” Carver said. “Charlie McLay comes in, he’s a Ky (Kyabram) boy who has been at Echuca United. Phil Carroll from Nathalia, Jordan Hageman from Rushworth, Michael Hill returning after a year off and Tom Schumann are all in as well. “We’ve tried to sort of develop our style over the past two years or so, so hopefully now the boys all know what they’re doing. “The top sides always work like that, stick together and play the same style while they’re on top.”

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Charlie McLay (Echuca United), Phil Carroll (Nathalia), Jordan Hageman (Rushworth), Michael Hill (year off ), Tom Schumann (Monash Blues) OUT: Tannar Cerrone (Elmore), Luke Donnell (Kyabram)

FOOTBALL COACH: COREY CARVER 2019 FINISH: THIRD (11–8) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ZAC CERRONE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BILLY RYAN (62) GROUND: LANCASTER RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: WOMBATS

Michael Hill


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

LONGWOOD

NETBALL

Longwood’s netballers are putting in the hard yards to become more competitive in the Kyabram District League. New coach Meg Pellegrino is working on some more inclusions to the squad, but is excited to see the likes of Toni Watson and Jamie Francis back on deck for the Redlegs and ready to tackle another campaign. President Ricki Shiner lured Pellegrino to Longwood Recreation Reserve, but it was the warm welcome which made up her mind.

FOOTBALL

“I think it was the phone call from Ricki that got me across, he reached out through a colleague of mine who plays at Longwood,” Pellegrino said. “It’s a really family orientated club and people-centric and that’s what I love about it. I’ve got kids as well who are going to be playing too so that was important to me. “We’re always open to new players, it’s a really caring and kind club and there’s certainly incentives available for people who are prepared to travel.”

Meg Pellegrino NETBALL COACH: MEG PELLEGRINO 2019 FINISH: 14TH (1–15)

MERRIGUM

NETBALL

Merrigum wants to be a big player in the Kyabram District League this season. The Bulldogs bowed out in sixth spot last campaign but are ready to launch up the ladder and become a premiership contender. A contingent of girls who know a thing or two about securing silverware highlight the inclusions to Merrigum’s A-grade and B-grade squads. “The goal is definitely finals, we scraped into sixth last year and we’re hoping to better that,” netball operations manager Kathie Dawson said. “We’ve got a really good group of young girls, our junior to senior pathway has always been strong and we want to make sure it stays that way. “We’ve got the 2019 rising star for the league in Breanna Baker and 2018

rising star Jorja Tranter, Paige Billing, Maya Roudis and Maddy Wilson all coming up from the under-17s this year. “They went undefeated over the past two seasons so have been a really strong squad.” Previous coach Louise Richards will remain on board in a playing capacity, Zara Kerr has joined from Shepparton United and the likes of Katie Cordingley and Olivia Jackson will return to the fold to further excite Bulldogs fans about the chances of their team for the campaign ahead. “We’ve got a really good mix of youth and experience at the club this season,” Dawson said.

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Daniel Dryden (Undera), Joel McCarten (La Trobe University) OUT: Ryan Mangan (South Bendigo) NETBALL COACH: TO BE CONFIRMED 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (9–8)

Mick Galvin was not born yesterday. He knows wins might be hard to come by for Longwood in the Kyabram District League this season — as they have been for a while. But that’s not his main goal for this campaign. The Redlegs need to first build the Longwood brand back up to the heights Galvin knows it can reach. “It’s looking like a young squad and it’s going to be one of those development-type years,” he said. “The wins will come; we just have to try and get the boys together and build something together. “Teaching people how to win is very hard; if you get used to losing you can get yourself into winning positions and not know where to go from there. “Towards the end of last year, we had 12 players doubling up every week and you just can’t be competitive doing that, you’ve got to build the squad first. “We really want to push the Longwood name back up there, everyone in the community wants us to get back up there and we’ve had a few more local faces come down this year which is great.”

Among the inclusions for Longwood ahead of the looming campaign are Galvin’s nephew Seth, Glenroy pairing Trent Cox and Alexander Edmunds and Whittlesea’s Jarod Coco. And although Galvin has a full summer as a Redleg under this belt this season — compared to last year’s late arrival — getting his entire squad together has still been tough. “We’re in a bit better shape than we were this time last year, a bit more organised and on top of things,” he said. “When you’re pulling from four major towns — Bendigo, Shepparton, Seymour and Melbourne — it can be hard to get everyone together at training. “They’re all getting together as groups and training but working on structures and game plans has to wait until everyone is together. “Brett Henderson (former TAC Cup coach) is coming down to work on stoppages around the ball; we won a few stoppage counts last year but couldn’t spread well enough out of them to make the most of it.”

– TYLER MAHER

Nathan Watson

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Trent Cox, Alexander Edmunds (Glenroy), Jarod Coco (Whittlesea), Seth Galvin (Eaglehawk) OUT: Julian Ross, Rob Mullen

FOOTBALL COACH: MICK GALVIN 2019 FINISH: 14TH (1–1–14) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: NATHAN WATSON 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: KOBE GALVIN (13) GROUND: LONGWOOD RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: REDLEGS

FOOTBALL

There is something special brewing out at Merrigum Recreation Reserve. The Bulldogs have enacted a clear modus operandi when it comes to their senior football side — and the path it has set them upon is certainly well-trodden by other successful clubs in the region. “We’ve had some pretty sustainable list management and been pretty quiet on the recruiting front,” coach Steve Lawlor said. “Everyone wants to see you out there and selling newspapers, but most of what we’re trying to do is reward our local talent. “You look at sides like Kyabram, Nathalia and Nagambie and they draw from a strong local base and don’t over-recruit — they do it on a needs basis. “We’re not building rockets here — we’re just backing our young guys in and trying to make our senior footy side competitive for the next 10 years and not strap ourselves into a short-sighted boom-andbust cycle.” As well as a local focus, Merrigum has engineered a list underpinned by the exuberance of youth. It means that although Lawlor’s list is packed full of supreme talents, they do not receive the same plaudits as others

across the competition — although that may be about to change. “When I go to the supermarket, I don’t like to think I’m particularly tight with my money, but I buy the home brand products because they still do the same job as the ones with the big names,” Lawlor said. “It’s similar to what we’re trying to do at Merrigum, a lot of our players are still building their reputations and I think this is the year they might start making more of a name for themselves. “It looks like the league is going up in standard again and we’ll improve as well; we enjoy the challenge of being written off by the media, opposition and mates from other leagues. “We enjoy punching up (above our weight class), I see the group grow in confidence every time we beat a side rated higher than us.” Some of those names to look out for in the red, blue and white this season are Josh Smith, Jack Sinclair and Jake Parkinson, while Daniel Dryden will return to the club this year. “Most of our list is still in their teenage years or early twenties,” Lawlor said. “Geoff Connally is pushing 40 and he’s the father of the group, but we only have

three blokes above 30 on the list. “You forget how young they are at times and it’s important for us to remember that we have to be a bit patient with them sometimes. “We want them to be 10 years players, not around for just one or two seasons. We haven’t struggled to keep the group together either, which tells us we’re on the right track, they’re all happy to keep buying in to what we’re trying to achieve here. “The thing that works in our favour is list continuity and understanding where our shortcomings are. We’re not a perfect side and we embrace that. “We’ll continue to possibly get exposed sometimes but we’ll get back to training and we’ll learn from it and keep chipping away.” And after missing finals by the closest of margins in consecutive seasons, Lawlor hopes his club’s fortunes are about to take a turn for the better. “It’s been pretty disappointing to miss finals by percentage the past two years in a row,” he said. “I feel like we’re the Richmond of old at times, so hopefully the new Richmond is not too far away.”

COACH: STEVE LAWLOR 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (9–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JACK SINCLAIR 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JOSH SMITH (51) GROUND: MERRIGUM RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BULLDOGS

Football and Netball 2020 63


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

MURCHISON-TOOLAMBA

NETBALL

Murchison-Toolamba hopes it has found a simple solution for Kyabram District League success — running. The Grasshoppers have been putting in the hard yards over summer under new coach Jenni McCluskey as they search for a spike on the KDL table in 2020. B-grade coach — and top tier player — Carly Tuhan agrees with the philosophy. “It’s been a hard pre-season, we’ve been really focusing on our fitness,” Tuhan said. “I think for us we’ve been one of those teams that have only just made finals the past couple of years, and fitness is the area we need to target to take the next step in those finals series.” Along with McCluskey, Leah Manson joins the squad from Longwood and previously Shepparton United, while Alice and Jess Cunningham are not playing this season. It has opened the door for some of the younger Grasshoppers to stake their claim towards a permanent starting role in the A-grade side.

FOOTBALL

“A couple of outs has really opened up some opportunities to the younger ones coming through,” Tuhan said. “It’s a great place for junior development and Jenni is keen to put some systems and structures in place across the club. “She wants to be able to grab anyone for A-grade and know they’ll slot right into the side.”

– TYLER MAHER

Jenni McCluskey NETBALL COACH: JENNI MCCLUSKEY 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (11–6)

NAGAMBIE

NETBALL

After falling a game short in its charge for the flag last season, further consistency will be key to Nagambie’s return to the decider. “It was a disappointing finish for us. Obviously, we want to go one step further this year,” coach Bianca Willis said. But having dominated the last decade of KDL netball, the Lakers are also determined to build another strong dynasty which will reign supreme in the 2020s. “We’ve had a few senior players either retire or go to other clubs so we’re looking to our youth and senior teams this year as an opportunity for development,” Willis said.

A targeted recruiting spree has left Murchison-Toolamba in a strong position to launch itself up the Kyabram District league table. As well as luring a quartet of Euroa footballers to Murchison Recreation Reserve, the Grasshoppers have also added the likes of Vermont big-man Jack Furey and Greensborough’s Zayne Swan. When coupled with the retention of its senior stars it is certainly a recipe for success that Murchison-Toolamba is cooking up. “There’s a really good vibe within the club and within the community, which is great to see,” coach Nick Iorianni said. “We’ve been able to bring in four from Euroa who were looking for a bit of a change of scenery. We’re pleased to have them on board; they’ve really added some professionalism to the group. “We felt that we wanted to recruit some key position players and some bigger bodies, and we’ve been able to do that as well.” James Ivill, Klay Giovannini, Brad Gleeson and Rob Wilson are the former Magpies joining Iorianni’s squad, and it is the latter who has impressed the Murchison-Toolamba mentor the most.

– MEG SAULTRY

James Ivill

PLAYER CHANGES IN: James Ivill, Klay Giovannini, Brad Gleeson, Rob Wilson (Euroa), Jack Furey (Vermont), Zayne Swan (Greensborough), Stephen Burns (Shepparton East) OUT: Nil

FOOTBALL COACH: NICK IORIANNI 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (12–5) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: LUKE CECCHIN 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JAMES MILNE (57) GROUND: MURCHISON RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: GRASSHOPPERS

FOOTBALL

“The focus is on building a sustainable club so that in five years we’re winning flags across all our teams.” Having shared coaching responsibilities with Sarah Sanderson last season, Willis will now solely lead A-grade, with Sanderson shifting her attentions exclusively off-court as the under-17 coach and A-grade assistant coach. With senior players Alicia White and Sarah O’Sullivan also departing, the Lakers will welcome three new players, as well as several under-17 players who aged up, into the mix for A- and B-grade spots.

“Robbie Wilson has really stood out to us so far,” Iorianni said. “The continuity in his training has been great and he hasn’t skipped a beat, he’s got himself really fit.” It means all signs point to an improved finish from last year’s fifth ranking for the Grasshoppers, but they will not be getting ahead of themselves. “You’re always looking to improve, but everyone starts on zero points again,” Iorianni said. “Everyone wants to play finals football, and we’re doing everything we can to give ourselves the best chance to be in that position again. “There’s a really good club culture, lots of strong bonds and friendships and ties at the footy club and everyone wants to see us have some success.”

A clear step above the competition last year, Nagambie will be in the driver’s seat to bag record back-to-back flags in 2020. The Lakers only dropped one game last season — Tallygaroopna, round two — before going on a 17-game winning streak to cement premiership glory. And in a deadly finals series, the Lakers demonstrated just how good they really were, beating the Redlegs in the semi-final and final by a combined 157 points. But with the off-season comes change, and the club will lose the services of its best-and-fairest and league rising star, Blake Fothergill, alongside older brother Nathan Fothergill, who head off for a stint in the Goulburn Valley League. And with Mark Wilson also departing, the club has needed to bring more talent

into the fold, although coach Anthony Haysom remains confident the strength of his squad remains on par with last year. “We’ve been able to replace what we’ve lost to an extent. We’re just looking to keep going on what was done last year and improving,” Haysom said. “I don’t think we’ll be too far off last year. We do have a different game style though; it’s been tweaked a bit.” The Lakers will be buoyed by the return of local product and 2018 league runner-up goal-kicker, Mat Waterson, who returns after a year away with Maiden Gully playing alongside brother, Nic. “Mat brings 70 to 80 goals back into the side. He can play forward and push back into the middle,” Haysom said.

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Mat Waterson (Maiden Gully), Matt Martin (Seymour), Patrick Rattray (Seville), Keith Berry (WAAFL), Josh Ludeman (Dookie) OUT: Nathan Fothergill, Blake Fothergill (Shepparton United), Mark Wilson Mat Waterson NETBALL COACH: BIANCA WILLIS 2019 FINISH: THIRD (14–5)

64 Football and Netball 2020

Bianca Willis FOOTBALL COACH: ANTHONY HAYSOM 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (17–1) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BLAKE FOTHERGILL 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ANTHONY HAYSOM (49) GROUND: NAGAMBIE RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: LAKERS


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

RUSHWORTH

NETBALL

Rushworth’s squad will look similar to last season in the Kyabram District League this year. Nicky Chillingsworth is back on board for another campaign in charge of the A-grade side, with many of last year’s list retained. The Tigers will look to push up the table from 12th position, while across the grades a number of new faces will be seen on court. Netball director Katherine Jamieson is excited for the year ahead, especially for the new under-11 outfit which will take the step up to Saturday competition. Most of that squad has made the progression from the club’s Net Set Go program, while plenty of Tigers have been honing their craft across the summer in Kyabram Netball Association.

Katrina Ogden

FOOTBALL

Things are looking up at Ironbark Stadium. Rushworth has added a large swathe of recruits to its squad and retained the vast majority of last year’s group, making coach Brett Pateman optimistic for the season ahead. “I think we’ve picked up about 12 to 15 players,” Pateman said. “A couple of them are returning players and a few are from Darwin who are down in Melbourne at uni. “We’re definitely looking to keep building and become a more competitive and well-rounded side.” The Tigers finished last year strongly with two wins and a pair of close defeats, but before that lost to top-four teams Tallygaroopna and Avenel by a combined 428 points. It is those sort of performances which Pateman hopes will now be a thing of the

past at Rushworth. “In the back end of last year, we got the side where it needed to be and we expect to be competitive against every side this season,” he said. “What people outside the club might not understand is that we’ve always had a lot of farmers and shift workers who aren’t available every weekend, so sometimes we would have 10 changes just due to unavailability. “This year we’ve really focused on adding plenty of players to the squad to help with that.” Among the inclusions is Josh O’Brien — who has experience with the Northern Blues — and familiar faces Shayne Lynch and Jak McMillan. Most of all the Tigers will be looking to create excitement around the community through their efforts. “In the past with the big blowouts we

have had, the social side of the club has still been great, so it’s only going to get better and more enjoyable to be here as we (get rid of those),” Pateman said. “I’m looking forward to developing a couple of young players and to see what the playing group can do this year. “It’s exciting times but we’re not putting too much hype on it at the moment.”

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Josh O’Brien, Will Baird, Jalen Clarke, Lachie McKenzie, Will Tollner (Northern Territory Football League), Jackson Doyle (St Kevin’s Old Boys), Jak McMillan (Mooroopna), Shayne Lynch (Waaia), Matt Bricknell OUT: Jordan Hageman (Lancaster) NETBALL COACH: NICKY CHILLINGSWORTH 2019 FINISH: 12TH (5–11)

Jak McMillan

FOOTBALL COACH: BRETT PATEMAN 2019 FINISH: 12TH (4–1–11) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: TAULUA VAVE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ISAIAH JOHNSON (47) GROUND: IRONBARK STADIUM NICKNAME: TIGERS

SHEPPARTON EAST

NETBALL

Shepparton East is ready to make the jump to the Kyabram District League finals this season. After just missing out last year, Erryn Hueston’s Eagles are hungry to make their mark on the competition. “We’re really happy, we’ve had good numbers this year, we’ve got lots of depth and we’re excited,” Hueston said. “We only missed finals by a game last year, so we’re definitely looking to push those top six sides this season.” The likes of Stacey Betson and

FOOTBALL

Tiffany Damianopoulos have departed from Central Park Recreation Reserve, but Lauren Eastick, Maddie McKinnon, Maddison Newey and Jade Naylor are among the inclusions for the Eagles “We’ve been topping up and adding depth,” Hueston said. “Our junior base is extremely strong this year and we will be stronger across the board, so we’re very excited.”

– TYLER MAHER

Maddie McKinnon

Shepparton East is looking forward to a stable campaign in the Kyabram District League after several years in a state of flux. The Eagles notched up three leagues in as many seasons when they joined the KDL ranks last year, but are now in it for the long haul. “It’s more about stability this season, we’re still feeling the effects of the league changes, so the big things are stability and consistency,” new coach Duane Hueston said. “We had 16 thirds players eligible for

Jamie Spencer NETBALL COACH: ERRYN HUESTON 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (8–8)

seniors and they made the grand final last year, so retaining and (nurturing) them is a focus. “Our expectations and our goals for this season are to be very competitive and to be pushing for finals, we know we’re coming from the bottom end of the ladder, but we know if we build and get the right things in place over the next two to three years then Shepp East can be a well-respected club in the Kyabram District League.” With Hueston’s wife Erryn in charge of the Eagles’ netball ranks once more, the two arms of the club have never worked more closely together. “There’s a good feeling around the club,” he said. “We’ve really concentrated hard on joining the netball and football together, we’re doing lots of training together and developing a culture where people want to come and play here. “We want to be a destination club.” The Eagles have brought a number of familiar faces back into the football fold over summer — including the likes of Ryan Pfeiffer, Jamie Spencer and Cobey Aynsley — and have taken a hard-but-fair stance with the playing group.

“I am definitely looking forward to coaching, it’s been good so far, the playing group that we’ve got have all been very positive,” Hueston said. “The major recruiting focus has been trying to bring previous players and families back to the club, that’s the approach we took. “Our core group for the pre-season has been mostly senior footballers, which is great. “At the start we did keep most of last year’s list, but some have been very hard to get a hold of or haven’t turned up at all. “If you’re not someone who can reply to texts or calls then you’re not who we want for the direction this club is going in. “It’s not how I was brought up or how I was brought up in footy clubs, so you have to move on at some point.”

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Jamie Spencer, Brandon Corish, Cobey Aynsley (Stanhope), Ryan Pfeiffer (Shepparton Swans), Angus Sutherland (Shepparton United) OUT: Aidan Lloyd (Tallygaroopna)

FOOTBALL COACH: DUANE HUESTON 2019 FINISH: 11TH (5–11) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JEROMY AYNSLEY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ANTHONY TAUTALA (29) GROUND: CENTRAL PARK RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: EAGLES

Football and Netball 2020 65


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

STANHOPE

NETBALL

Stanhope may not prove untouchable this Kyabram District League season — but if the Lions have their way, they will remain unbeatable. Losing the back-to-back best player in the competition as well as a defensive pillar would decimate most sides, but Kerrie Gray’s troops will be just as tough to overcome in their premiership defence as they were in last year’s perfectly brutal campaign — where their average winning margin was just shy of 50 goals. “Chicky Barr has gone overseas and you’re never going to replace someone like her,” Gray said. “Sam Gill is traveling also so we’ve lost our bookends, but it’s an exciting opportunity for some kids to come through. “All the juniors are working really, really hard. The B-grade players are pushing a bit harder now as well with spots up for grabs. “There’s some nice, friendly competition among the group and it really helps bring out the best in each other.” A late start to the season meant a delayed pre-season for the Lions, with Gray looking to keep things

interesting in a milestone year for the club. “It feels like because we start so late this year with a bye in round one it’s just about trying to be organised and making sure that our pre-season is interesting,” she said. “I think it’s a really exciting year at our club with our centenary, it brings a level of excitement in itself. “I’ve been coaching for probably nearly 20 years now and you’ve just got to continue to reinvent yourself, keep learning, keep pushing the group to new areas and keep things fresh. “If the playing group is excited, you’re in a good position already.”

– TYLER MAHER

talent like Rhett Sutton, Josh Dickerson and Luke Smailes will also look to make an impact at Gill Cochrane Oval. “We’ve picked up seven or eight players, which is good,” Patten said. “It’s been a normal pre-season I suppose, with a variety of other sports going on you can’t always get everyone on the track, but we’ve been working well with the numbers we’ve had. “It’s all a bit different being the centenary year of the club, probably the main focus is just to have a pretty seamless year, trouble-free with everyone happy and positive. “We hope all three sides can play finals; there’s lots of tough competition across the league and you always want to win flags but it’s getting harder and harder.” Mark Adamson, Brenton Gray and Dean Wileman are also among the football coaching staff at Stanhope this season,

IN: Rhett Sutton, Josh Dickerson (Mordialloc), Lachie West (Rochester), Luke Mann (Huntly), Jye Patten (Colbinabbin), Lachlan Armstrong (Rumbalara), Lukas Hanslow (Kyabram), Luke Smailes (Diggers Rest) OUT: Cobey Aynsley, Brandon Corish, Jamie Spencer (Shepparton East), Sam Woodward (Congupna)

TALLYGAROOPNA NETBALL

Stanhope is preparing for a huge celebration this season — and hopes Kyabram District League premiership success can be the cherry on top. The Lions will notch up 100 years as a club in 2020, and new coaches Mark Patten and Denis Grinton are hoping to play an attacking brand of football to excite supporters and players alike. “We both like to take the game on and challenge the opposition in terms of fitness,” Patten said. “We like to see our sides use the ball well and play a free-flowing type of football. “One area to work on might be trying to work through some of the tight zones that sides like Nagambie can produce; they’re pretty well drilled, so there’s been a lot of game-style type training.” Familiar faces can be found on the inclusions list for the Lions this season, but fresh

while Patten believes the league as a whole is in good shape. “It’s a pretty exciting year,” Patten said. “We’ve got a great coaching staff and we’re really happy to have Denis back at the club as well. “I think it will be very good for the league to have Shane Crawford involved and hopefully a more competitive Ardmona; you don’t get the opportunity to coach against someone like him (very often at all). “There will be 10 or 11 sides competing strongly for finals, which is great for the comp.”

PLAYER CHANGES NETBALL COACH: KERRIE GRAY 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (18–0)

A coaching duo will take charge of Tallygaroopna’s A-grade side this campaign. Fiona Down will share duties with Georgie Sidebottom, who is returning to the caper after an extended break. “I have coached there previously but have had about six years off since I last coached,” Sidebottom said. “I was keen to get back into coaching, it’s an area I really enjoy.” The Redlegs will look a little different on the court as well this season, with Tahla Sidebottom, Lisa Hueston and Hayley McDonald not expected to line-up. But after securing three of the four open-age netball flags on offer in the

FOOTBALL

Kyabram District League last season, the Redlegs are confident they can promote from within the club. “We had trials in December, everyone is really enjoying pre-season and we’ve had a good turn out,” Sidebottom said. “We tend to retain a lot of players at the club, people enjoy it and it’s a really great place to be. “Hopefully we can be successful again. “We have a lot of depth throughout the club with the success of other grades, there’s going to be lots of opportunities to bring players up through the grades and give them a go at a higher level.”

Georgie Sidebottom NETBALL COACHES: FIONA DOWN AND GEORGIE SIDEBOTTOM 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (14–4)

66 Football and Netball 2020

Luke Mann

FOOTBALL COACHES: MARK PATTEN AND DENIS GRINTON 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (11–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: ALEC YOUNG 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BRAYDON KEARNS (46) GROUND: GILL COCHRANE OVAL NICKNAME: LIONS

FOOTBALL

Tallygaroopna lost just three games in last year’s attempted Kyabram District League premiership defence. The fact that the trio of defeats all came at the hands of eventual champion Nagambie — and all in the final month of the season — is not lost on returning coach Kevin O’Donoghue. But the Redlegs will not be Lakersfocused this season, preferring to worry about their own backyard first and foremost. “You can’t go in to just beat Nagambie,” O’Donoghue said.

“Every year is different, and every list will have changed. “You’ve got to start again and build up your list to be the best it can be.” Tallygaroopna has targeted a recruiting class to help it do just that, with Goulburn Valley League midfielder Beau Caia and 2018 Picola District Football League Pearce medallist Mark Ryan the headline acts. “It’s early days, but we’ll probably look similar to last year in terms of our line-up, we might have a couple of retirees and have brought a few players in,” O’Donoghue said.

“We’ve brought in Beau Caia, Mark Ryan, Aidan Lloyd and Mitch Beck, there’s a bit of youth there and a good even spread. “It gives us another marking forward in Aidan, a couple of midfielders in Beau and Mitch and a ruckman in Mark. “Our midfield is our strength and it will be again, and there’s been lots of success around the club and it’s certainly exciting times, hopefully the senior footballers can add to that again this year.”

– TYLER MAHER

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Mark Ryan (Picola United), Beau Caia (Shepparton United), Aidan Lloyd (Shepparton East), Mitch Beck (Congupna) OUT: Nil

Mark Ryan FOOTBALL COACH: KEVIN O’DONOGHUE 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (16–3) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: TYSON SIDEBOTTOM 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JAI UTIGER (52) GROUND: TALLYGAROOPNA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: REDLEGS


KYABRAM DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

UNDERA

NETBALL

Prepare to hear a roar from Undera Recreation Reserve this Kyabram District League season. The Lions are primed to pounce this year according to coach Amy Reid. “Lookout for the Lions,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it, hopefully it is a successful year.” While that success can be measured in wins and trophies, Reid will also gauge how well her club goes this campaign by the bonds the players make with each other. “We’re going quite well, we’re just working on really getting the bonding

happening and jelling together,” she said. “We’ve got some new faces, so we’re getting everyone up to speed with who everyone is and getting on with achieving our goals. “We really want to create that comradery, not just in one team, but across the board for the whole club. “It would be great to take out a premiership, but you don’t have that success if you don’t have everyone willing to work together.”

– TYLER MAHER

FOOTBALL

After just missing out on post-season action last year, Undera is itching to taste finals football this time around. The Lions were shut-out of knockout matches by percentage alone last campaign, with coach Mick Kyle keen for his group to take another step. “We just missed out on percentage, a couple of games didn’t go our way and we didn’t play well in the wet so we’re trying to address that,” Kyle said. “Nine to 10 wins would be a pass mark for us, I think. “Hopefully we can get some luck with injuries.” Back-to-back league medallist Kaine Herbert is once again set to dominate for Undera — and he will have more help in the middle this year. “He’s flying,” Kyle said. “He doesn’t slow down at all, he runs

every second day in the pre-season and he’s fitter than he’s ever been. “Matt Cordy is an A-grade midfielder, he’s originally from Undera and has been in South Australia, but he’s just moved back so that’s fantastic for us. “He’ll go well in the midfield with Kaine.” Among the other inclusions for the Lions are Tanner Hunter, Zac Treacy and Riley Dryden, with Kyle confident his list is in great shape. “We haven’t really lost too many, there’s a couple who will travel at stages throughout the season, so they’re not on full commitment, but I think the list is in a healthier position than last year,” he said. “A couple of the kids look really good; the thirds are doing really well getting numbers on the park at the moment so we should be able to blood a few this year, which is great.”

Kaine Herbert

PLAYER CHANGES Steph Barber NETBALL COACH: AMY REID 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (7–9)

VIOLET TOWN NETBALL

After losing most of its A-grade talent in the off-season, Violet Town is looking on the bright side of an entire rebuild of its senior netball program. With all but one A-grade player departing the club — with the one being head coach Prue Holmes — the Towners have turned their attention to developing the culture of the club and its junior talent pathways. “We are in a rebuilding phase. We’re trying to find new players and getting there slowly,” Holmes said. “Obviously our preseason hasn’t been ideal though. “Our emphasis is about creating a fun family atmosphere. We’ll be competitive if we can. “But a lot of our focus is on our juniors and hopefully retaining them as they move through the grades, so we’re not constantly working through rebuilds.” With at least two teams at senior and junior level likely to take the court, Holmes said the club would not rush elevating its under-17 players into A-grade.

IN: Matt Cordy (Kongorong), Tanner Hunter (Strathfieldsaye), Riley Dryden (Ardmona), Zac Treacy (Congupna), Jordan Castles OUT: Tom Durward (Tatura) FOOTBALL COACH: MICK KYLE 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (9–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: KAINE HERBERT 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BRENTON CAMPBELL (52) GROUND: UNDERA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: LIONS

FOOTBALL

“Most of our under-17s were bottom age last year, so they’re still learning,” she said. “A senior opportunity may come up throughout season, but we are looking to nurture them first.”

– MEG SAULTRY

There is excitement building at Violet Town ahead of its 125th season, and with an infusion of talented players crossing to the club, it’s not hard to see why. But new coach Joel Price insisted the club was not getting ahead of itself, with plenty of hard work still left to do to climb back up the ladder. “There is a fair bit of excitement (about 125 years). The club certainly are looking to have a successful year on the field,” Price said. “In saying that we’re coming from a long way back … and overall the competition’s standard is going to go up. “I knew coming in the club has had some difficult years on field, so I’ve tried hard to work on recruiting by getting in A-grade talent and ex-locals, so we can be competitive on field this year. “Our goal is certainly finals. We are a long

way back, so at this stage, with some luck with injuries, we should be able to compete for the bottom half of the top six.” Preparation ahead of season opener against Ardmona has seen Price put a huge emphasis on fitness throughout pre-season, confident his squad would be one of the fittest in the competition. And while high-profile recruits in Jared Brennan and Jake Roe-Duggan boast an obvious drawcard for supporters, Price said the return of several ex-local players was generating as much excitement in the small town. “Jack McPherson and Harry Sleigh — there is just as much buzz around them,” he said. “Top recruits help at the top end, but depth is important, and we’re better placed as a club than last year.”

Jared Brennan

PLAYER CHANGES Prue Holmes NETBALL COACH: PRUE HOLMES 2019 FINISH: 13TH (4–12)

IN: Jared Brennan, Kim Kantilla, Joel Price (Henty), Will Farrer (NTFL), Jake Roe-Duggan (Healesville), Jesse Eddy (Airport West), Harry Sleigh, Jack McPherson (Old Geelong), Brian Burbidge (AFL Cairns), Matthew Kozole (Wyndham Suns), Peter McKay (Inglewood) OUT: Jack Cripps (North Shore) FOOTBALL COACH: JOEL PRICE 2019 FINISH: 13TH (3–13) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: MATT MCCARTY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MATT MCCARTY (30) GROUND: VIOLET TOWN RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: LIONS

Football and Netball 2020 67


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

THE STARS ARE IN TOWN One of the biggest off-seasons, in terms of player movement, has the Picola and District Football Netball League gearing up for one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. A variety of star players from across the region have joined contenders for the upcoming season, headlined by former AFL footballer and Katamatite recruit Sam Wright. The former North Melbourne footballer — who retired last year — joins last season’s semi-finalists in what is a major coup for not only the club, but the league, which is certain to get spectators flooding through the gates. Former Goulburn Valley League premiership players Ash Holland and Tim Looby have both ventured across to last year’s grand finalists Waaia and Strathmerton respectively. Could Holland — the 2018 Wilf Cox Medal winner for the Bears — be the missing part to Waaia’s premiership puzzle? And will Looby be able to fill the void

up forward for the reigning premiers after premiership player Travis Down shifted to Numurkah? Meanwhile, Berrigan has welcomed midfield bull Tim McAuley to the club after he finished runner-up in Yarrawonga’s senior vote count last season. McAuley claimed the Sunraysia Football League best-and-fairest medal in 2018 and will be a vital pick-up to the club that went out in straight sets. Katamatite will be hoping a string of recruits can help it make amends for last year’s final exit, while the club will gladly welcome back injured star Sam Poole. Rennie has lost exciting junior talents but picked up experienced heads, while Picola United and

Mathoura have brought in several new faces. And Jerilderie has welcomed back former premiership players to help it become a force in the competition again. Lastly, aspiring clubs Deniliquin Rovers, Yarroweyah and Tocumwal have all changed coaches as they look to climb the ladder. However, on the netball court a star has left the minor premiers, with last year’s Lukies Medal winner Leah Pate not returning to Tocumwal in 2020. Reigning premier Strathmerton has lost premiership captain Kelly Laidlaw but has stocked up its premiership defence with Liv Osborne and Sarah Quick. Potential ladder climber Waaia has welcomed back former premiership players from time off, while heavyweight Katunga has brought in two recruits to help take the Swans back to the promised land.

– AYDIN PAYNE Strathmerton

BERRIGAN

NETBALL

Expect to see a strong flavour of junior players experience life at senior level this season at Berrigan. Incoming coach Natalie Ferguson is looking to lay down the platform for seasons to come by developing the youth this year. “One of our big focus is to develop the juniors this year,” she said. “We have got a number of young standouts, like Shae Fenell and Chloe McQualter, so we are just looking to get them to learn and develop alongside our senior players. “And hopefully we can try to get all our senior sides on the park.”

Ferguson replaces last year’s coach and best-and-fairest winner Rorri Phibbs, who has moved away with her family. But Ferguson revealed the Saints had welcomed back multiple returning players, with over half a dozen new recruits at the club. “We have got a couple of players who have moved back which is great,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to the season ahead and building a strong culture.”

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Tim McAuley (Yarrawonga), Zeke Carruthers (Finley) OUT: Mark McQualter (Yarrawonga) Ted Walliss (Geelong West Giants) Matt Heazlewood (Geelong West Giants)

NETBALL COACH: NATALIE FERGUSON 2019 FINISH: NINTH (5–11)

68 Football and Netball 2020

FOOTBALL

The Saints are marching to the tune of a new-look coaching panel for the upcoming season. And it has supporters eager in anticipation for what lies ahead. A familiar face at Berrigan has settled back into the role after three year’s off coaching, with Ty Russell back at the helm. Russell was at the helm when Berrigan reached the preliminary final of the northwest league in 2016 and is eager to help steer the Saints deep into finals territory. However, Russell won’t be alone this season. The Saints have acquired last year’s runner-up in Yarrawonga’s best-and-fairest Tim McAuley as co-coach and elevated Tom Beams as assistant coach. McAuley — the 2018 league medallist in the Sunraysia Football League — will be the motor of Berrigan’s midfield engine and Russell revealed his acquisition has brought a lot of positive energy to the club. “Tim is a really talented footballer and a terrific fella,” Russell said. “He gives 100 per cent at training and he has fitted in really well here. “The entire club and supporters are just excited to have someone of his calibre around the club.”

LADDER PREDICTION FOOTBALL 1: Katamatite 2: Waaia 3: Berrigan 4: Strathmerton 5: Rennie 6: Picola United 7: Jerilderie 8: Yarroweyah 9: Mathoura 10: Deniliquin Rovers 11: Tocumwal 12: Katunga 13: Blighty

NETBALL 1: Katunga 2: Tocumwal 3: Picola United 4: Katamatite 5: Strathmerton 6: Deni Rovers 7: Waaia 8: Yarroweyah 9: Mathoura 10: Berrigan 11: Rennie 12: Jerilderie 13: Blighty

PAST PREMIERS 2019: Strathmerton(football) and Strathmerton (Netball 2018: Rennie and Deni Rovers 2017 NW: Picola United and Tocumwal 2017 SE: Rennie and Katunga 2016 NW: Picola United and Tocumwal 2016 SE: Shepparton East and Katunga 2015 NW: Strathmerton and Tocumwal 2015 SE: Tungamah and Katunga 2014 NW: Jerilderie and Strathmerton 2014 SE: Tungamah and Katandra

PEARCE MEDALLISTS 2019: John Woodcock (Katamatite) 2018: Ash Thompson (Waaia) and Mark Ryan (Picola United) 2017: NW: Jed Brain (Blighty) 2017: SE: Bodhi Butts (Tungamah) 2016: NW: Andrew May (Deni Rovers) and Dave Daniel (Picola United) 2016: SE: Matt Rendina (Shepparton East), Eamon Reeves (Katunga) and Matt McCarty (Waaia) 2015: NW: Paul Massingham (Berrigan) 2015: SE: Matt McCarty (Waaia) and Nick Doyle (Tungamah) 2014: NW: Andrew May (Jerilderie) 2014: SE: Luke Minogue (Katandra) and Tyson Saunders (Katamatite)

Berrigan have lost last year’s leading goal-kicker Ted Walliss but have welcomed back former junior and talented defender Zeke Carruthers who joins from Finley. And the Saints will look to youngsters Fraser Haintz and Angus Coldwell to continue their growth at senior level. “I have been really surprised with the talent and skills of some of these younger guys,” Russell said. “I just know that they are going

to be a great bunch to coach. “When I got offered the role I didn’t think twice, I can’t wait to get stuck into the season.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

Tom Beams

FOOTBALL COACHES: TY RUSSELL AND TIM MCAULEY 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (13–5) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: HARLEY MIDDLETON 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: TED WALLISS (55) GROUND: BERRIGAN RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: SAINTS


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

BLIGHTY

NETBALL

Much like the senior football side, Blighty’s A-grade netball line-up has been hampered by departures. Most noticeably is last year’s coach Molly Cochrane, which has left the Redeyes searching for a new mentor. Despite the club’s struggles in the top grade, the future is bright at Blighty if last season’s junior success is anything to go by.

FOOTBALL

The Redeyes had both under-15 and under-13 netball sides make it through to their grand finals, showcasing that there is an abundance of talent in the club’s junior players. And the next crop of senior players, the under-17 netballers, walk in with recent finals experience after they reached the semi-final last year.

The Blighty Redeyes are expected to have a tough season in 2020 after a mass exodus from the club. A total of 13 senior players have left, with the majority returning to their home club at the Deni Rams. The Redeyes, however, are riding on the coat tails of the reserves’ historic premiership win in 2019, with a lot of interest shown by those attending the combined seniors and reserves training squads in the off-season, run by new senior coach Daniel Kirchen. Kirchen will take over as coach from Jack Tyndall, who will play for the Rams in the Murray league this year. Reserves coach Kyel Bain said the club was confident it could adequately fill the gaps, based on the pre-season training interest and the junior development focus of the club, and said recruitment

was continuing. “Losing players like Jack Tyndall and Lachie Macdonald leave a hole but, as always, Blighty is resilient, and our locals are more than capable of filling those gaps,” Bain said. “Pre-season has kicked off well and having Daniel Kirchen back in the senior coaching role is a massive gain. He brings structure to our game that everyone can play to. “Darcy Morris has been looking great on the training track. He is our leading goal-kicker from last season and looks even fitter and stronger this year. “Jack Charlton is so far still expected to play in the thirds but given his quality standard of football he may play in the seniors a bit this season. “Our other thirds players, if they show commitment and enthusiasm, may also be given a crack at senior level football.”

“The positivity around the community is still high, and we are continuing to build on this for the season ahead. “We have had steady numbers to training and I think that comes from ending last year on such a positive note.”

– JAMIE LOWE

PLAYER CHANGES Daniel Kirchen NETBALL COACH: TO BE CONFIRMED 2019 FINISH: 10TH (4–12)

IN: Nil OUT: Jack Tyndall, Tom Druitt, Judd Barnes, Tom Billings, Louis Clarke, Lenny Clarke, Darcy Pogue, Beau Close, Daniel Jordan, Lachie MacDonald, Tom Dowling (Deni Rams), Tyler Amor-Beal, Cody Jordan FOOTBALL COACH: DANIEL KIRCHEN 2019 FINISH: 11TH (4–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: LACHIE MACDONALD 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DARCY MORRIS (15) GROUND: BLIGHTY RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: REDEYES

DENILIQUIN ROVERS NETBALL

Deanne Stevens will coach the Deniliquin Rovers Netball Club’s A-grade side for 2020. Stevens said she was excited for the opportunity and planned to utilise her expertise in netball to “push the club to the next level”. “It’s great to return to Rovers and be appointed the A-grade coach,” she said. “Rovers have had great success over the years and I’d like to build on that, particularly focusing on one of the many strengths the club

has — its juniors coming up through the ranks. “It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to work with these players, it’s an exciting time to be back at Rovers. “Another fabulous strength of the netball club is an experienced senior player group. “I have already started organising something special for the players; to be able to offer our girls something our city friends have on their doorstep will be pretty exciting.”

FOOTBALL

Picola and District League Junior Coach of the Year Alex Hay will make a major step up in the coaching ranks for the Deni Rovers in 2020. The 25-year-old was announced as the club’s senior coach last year and takes over the role from non-playing coach Josh Bode. It’s a coming-of-age moment for Hay, who after playing fourths and thirds footy for the Rovers, made his return to his junior club in 2018, playing for the senior squad while coaching the thirds footy side. Hay said with good numbers at training during the pre-season, the club was in a strong position. “We’ve had a couple of training sessions since the Christmas break and numbers have been upwards of 30 each week,” he said. “Brendan Hope is one who has impressed

me. His leadership skills are really shining through. “Kaiden Joss has trained the house down and Adam Bodey is in ripping nick. “Our ruck stocks are looking quite good with Adam back from his year off. “He and James Kirby are the fittest I’ve ever seen them. With Adam taking the brunt of the ruck work back we may look to keep James up forward more often. “I’ll also look to get more senior game time into some of our young thirds talent like Raymond Murphy, Haydn Mowat, Will Martin and Tom Blake. “Over the last 10 to 15 years the club has probably snagged the most junior flags, but we just haven’t been able to transition that into senior footy, so hopefully exposing these young blokes to more senior footy will help us in the long run.

“Although we haven’t been active in recruiting, I have a notion to reward the local blokes playing for the club. “We want to let the locals know they’re valued by the club and I will be rewarding the guys who make the effort to train each week and that work hard on the weekend. “This year we’ll have 20 local blokes at minimum lining up in the senior side each week.”

– JAMIE LOWE

PLAYER CHANGES Deanne Stevens NETBALL COACH: DEANNE STEVENS 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (13–5)

IN: Adam Bodey (year away), Matt Dowling (Natte Bealiba), Lewis Habraken (Macquarie University) OUT: Nathan Kerr, Dylan Kerr (Rumbalara), Djaran Whyman (Picola United), Josh Flight

James Gilligan

FOOTBALL COACH: ALEX HAY 2019 FINISH: FOURTH (12–7) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: DES MORGAN 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JOSH FLIGHT (38) GROUND: MEMORIAL PARK NICKNAME: ROVERS

Football and Netball 2020 69


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

JERILDERIE NETBALL

Jerilderie will look to put aside a poor performance last season when it hits the courts in 2020. The Demons have welcomed a couple of new recruits to the club while waving goodbye to Ella Steinfort, who has joined reigning premier Strathmerton. However, Jerilderie will be looking for last year’s best-and-fairest winner and teenager Skye Nash to continue her development at the highest level. “We have got a couple of new recruits

FOOTBALL

that will be handy additions,” Jerilderie netball president Meagan Mauger said. “Making finals is obviously one of our goals for this year. “We have a couple of talented juniors that are ready for the next step, too.” The Demons’ A-grade side will be led by Carson Thomas again this year, while Keshia Marshall has been elevated from assistant coach to co-coach.

A host of premiership players have returned to Demon land for the upcoming season announcing Jerilderie as one club ready to climb the ladder this season. The Demons have welcomed back a host of stars from the club’s premiership threepeat from 2012–12 which is a promising sign for last season’s 10th-placed outfit. Returning trio James Browning, Lachlan Leeds and Lachlan Lane have spent time in the VAFA in recent years while studying. Meanwhile, three-time premiership player and classy midfielder Blair Henery and 2014 best-on-ground medal winner

James Gregory have joined their junior club. Jerilderie coach Chris Marshall is going around again in 2020 and is excited to see what the returning crop of players can add to the side. “Obviously the competition is going to be a high standard this year with all the recruits joining the league,” Marshall said. “But we feel we have recruited well, and we have brought back a few former players, which is very exciting for the club. “Most of them are still at university or based in Melbourne and have come back to the club, which is fantastic, and we can’t

wait to see them in action.” Despite losing a couple of young players, most noticeably Hayden Smith, Marshall hopes his outfit can continue to climb the ladder after collecting just the one win in 2018 and four last year. “Our goal is to make finals this year,” he said. “We were in most games last season, but we just lacked a bit of depth. “Hopefully the boys that we have been able to bring back can help fill a few holes.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

PLAYER CHANGES IN: James Browning (University Blues), Lachlan Leeds (Monash Blues), Lachlan Lane (Monash Blues), James Gregory (Pascoe Vale), Nick Keating (Pascoe Vale), Shaun Bryce, Blair Henery, Darcy Bell OUT: Hayden Smith, Jordan Anthony, Thomas Munn

James Gregory NETBALL COACHES: CARSON THOMAS AND KESHIA MARSHALL 2019 FINISH: 12TH (3–13)

KATAMATITE

NETBALL

A string of recruits and change of leadership at Katamatite have got the Tigers optimistic they will improve their fortunes for the upcoming season. It was a disappointing end to a dominant season by the Tigers, after they went out in straight sets. Last year’s best-and-fairest winner Tesslyn Saunders takes over the coaching reins for the 2020 season, with the former Numurkah premiership coach revealing her troops have a burning desire to better last year’s finish. “Losing in straight sets has definitely made us more determined and hopefully we can build on that.” she said.

“And I’m very excited to jump back into coaching, especially with this group of girls, we are a really tight group.” Katamatite has lost both Cassia Colbeck and Kate Murphy, however, they have been able to bring in plenty more firepower. “We have had some great numbers at training, we have a lot of new faces which is exciting,” Saunders said. “And both Leonie Jones and Ria Still have been training the house down, they have put in a big off-season and they’ll play an integral role in our side.”

FOOTBALL COACH: CHRIS MARSHALL 2019 FINISH: 10TH (4–12) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: DAVID GREGORY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: JORDAN ANTHONY (38) GROUND: JERILDERIE RECERATION RESERVE NICKNAME: DEMONS

FOOTBALL

Katamatite has pulled off one of the biggest player signings in the Goulburn Valley with former junior and AFL footballer Sam Wright returning to the club for the 2020 season. Wright’s brother Jedd — Katamatite’s co-coach — revealed that his brother’s presence around the club had created plenty of buzz at the Tigers since his announcement late last year. “Having Sam onboard has helped to create a lot of buzz and excitement amongst supporters and players at the club,” he said. “He obviously brings plenty of football knowledge which has rubbed off on the group. “And he has definitely sharpened our forwards and defenders.” The former North Melbourne footballer headlines a number of recruits at Katamatite for the upcoming season.

Running defender Dion Williamson comes across from Murray Football League club Congupna, while Ash Hobbs joins from Euroa and former players Jordan Hallam and Joe Wilkie return. Wright will be hoping the new additions can bring some success to the club and hand the Tigers their first senior premiership since 2001. “We are looking to make amends this year,” he said. “It was disappointing to go out the way we did last year but we feel we did well with injuries. “We feel we have brought in some very handy players and we get Sam Poole back from injury after he only played four games last year.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

PLAYER CHANGES Leonie Rogers NETBALL COACH: TESSLYN SAUNDERS 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (12–1–5)

70 Football and Netball 2020

IN: Sam Wright (AFL), Dion Gleeson (Congupna), Ash Hobbs (Euroa), Jordan Hallam, Joe Wilkie OUT: Nil

Dion Gleeson

FOOTBALL COACHES: JEDD WRIGHT AND TOM BUZZA 2019 FINISH: SIXTH (13–5) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JOHN WOODCOCK 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: BRODIE MCDONALD (68) GROUND: KATAMATITE RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: TIGERS


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

KATUNGA

NETBALL

Katunga is set to use the pain of last year’s agonising preliminary final loss to eventual premier Strathmerton to fuel its 2020 campaign. The Swans are set to be a force to be reckoned with this year after a strong summer of recruiting and training. “It really hurt to go out the way we did (finals) and we’re looking to build on last season,” senior coach Aimee Sidebottom said. “We certainly want to look to improve and we have had a lot of great nights during pre-season.

FOOTBALL

“But we can’t get ahead of ourselves, we need to wait and see how the first games pan out.” The Swans have welcomed back former junior Michelle Van den Goor and Tallygaroopna’s Hayley McDonald, with the pair set to bolster the side even more. “We are super-excited to have those two on board this year,” Sidebottom said. “Michelle can play at both ends of the court and returns after a year off, and Hayley will slot into our midcourt.”

The 2020 season could be the year that the Swans rise from the bottom and continue their ascent up the Picola and District League ladder. After multiple seasons of heartache, Katunga is beginning to see a brighter future ahead with its under-17 footballers coming off a memorable premiership last season. The club has a plethora of young stars rising through, such as Max Hendy, Bailey Smith, Lochie Daniel, Sam Arho and Ben Whitford. “We are heading into the second year of our rebuild,” senior coach Damian Kennedy said. “Our thirds are coming off a premiership year which shows that the future is very bright for the club. “We have quite a young list; with a lot of talented juniors coming through, we will

look to blood some senior football experience into them.” Although the Swans have looked to nurture their juniors, Kennedy revealed they were “close to bringing in a couple of players” after a trio of senior players indicated they would not be pulling on the red and white this year. “Unfortunately, Ollie Small has ruptured his Achilles (tendon) over summer and he’s going to be a big out for us,” Kennedy said. “We are devastated for him, but he is a very talented footballer and we’ll support him. “And both Josh Smith and Jake Hodgkin come out of last year’s side due to studies and retirement. “And we are very close to welcoming a couple more senior players which will help our youngsters.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Nil OUT: Ollie Small (injury), Josh Smith (studies), Jake Hodgkin (retired)

Max Hendy NETBALL COACH: AIMEE SIDEBOTTOM 2019 FINISH: THIRD (13–1–4)

Hayley McDonald

FOOTBALL COACH: DAMIEN KENNEDY 2019 FINISH: 12TH (2–14) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: MITCH SIDEBOTTOM 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DYLAN SIDEBOTTOM (36) GROUND: KATUNGA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: SWANS

MATHOURA

NETBALL

There has been an influx of new faces at Mathoura’s pre-season netball trials over summer as the A-grade outfit begins to embark on a new path in 2020. Mathoura has welcomed Rita Howard to the helm for the upcoming season, who will replace Rohan Starkey. Unfortunately for the Timbercutters, last year’s best-andfairest winner Shannon Mills has departed the club, leaving a big hole to fill on the court. However, that hole already looks to have been filled by a surge of new recruits which has lifted the outlook at the Timbercutters. “There is a lot of positivity at the club with all the new faces around,” Howard said. “It’s awesome to see so many at training that are talented and energetic, it’s very exciting for us. “And our goal is to get some good wins and to be consistent across the season.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

FOOTBALL

Mathoura could very well be the sleeper club of the season, and that suits senior coach Darcy Robinson just fine. The Timbercutters have slipped under the radar this summer after an elimination final exit last season but stepped out onto the limelight in a bushfire relief fundraiser match against former rival Moama in February. Quietly behind the scenes, Robinson revealed the club had brought in more than 10 new players who were ready to play senior football. “No-one is probably expecting us to be a contender, we have nothing to lose really,” he said. “We’ve gone hard with recruiting and retained just about everyone else, which is exciting; hopefully we can go that next step and play finals. “We were able to taste two hours of it (finals), but we want more, hopefully

we can get back there.” The Timbercutters look primed and ready to return to finals football after retaining everyone from the side that won six games in 2019. Add the list of new recruits and a summer of rectifying last season’s faults, and Mathoura looks set to go past that number of wins in 2020. “Last year we spoke about where we went wrong and we felt we just didn’t control many games,” Robinson said. “That’s been a big focus for us over summer, playing the game on our terms. “We can’t wait to get stuck into the real stuff and to see how we can shape up against the rest.”

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Tom Brock (Tocumwal), Zak Thomson (Tocumwal), John Allitt, Tyler Beasy, Blaze Branson, Rod Reeves, Ayden Walton OUT: Nil NETBALL COACH: RITA HOWARD 2019 FINISH: 11TH (3–13)

Darcy Robinson

FOOTBALL COACH: DARCY ROBINSON 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (6–10) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JAKE ELLERY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DARCY ROBINSON (23) GROUND: MATHOURA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: TIMBERCUTTERS

Football and Netball 2020 71


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

PICOLA

NETBALL

It has been a busy summer for Picola United’s netball side according to coach Emma Greaves. Last year’s grand finalists have been hard at work with the usual pre-season antics such as, player recruitment and player grading, as they look to be another force in 2020. “It’s been a pretty busy pre-season,” Greaves said. “We are looking like we will have a number of returning players which is exciting. “But we have also lost a couple of players to university which is unfortunate but hopefully we can fill those spots.” Two regulars from last year’s line-up, Alannah Fry Smith and Georgia Walton,

FOOTBALL

have both departed because of university commitments. Greaves highlighted that last year’s grand final loss had not been mentioned over summer and even though the premiership decider is a goal, the mentor is looking to tick off other boxes. “We definitely want to set our sights on the grand final again,” she said. “But we also hope to be really consistent and to give our youngsters a bit of experience. “Cody Power is one of those talented youngsters and we are looking forward to seeing her get some experience at senior level.”

Picola United is preparing to turn a new leaf this season as they look to continue their ascent up the senior football ladder. The Blues have signed co-coaches for the upcoming year, with Dave Daniel and Darby Walsh set to share the magnet board in what is a fresh take for the club. Walsh returns to the Blues after spending a year with Goulburn Valley League outfit the Shepparton Swans. The return of Walsh — a classy midfielder — has left Daniel and the club excited for the upcoming season ahead. “Darby comes back after a year with the Swans and we are happy to have him back,” Daniel said. “He has got a lot of quality leadership skills and is a talented footballer. “I am really looking forward to working alongside him and it’s great to have

him onboard.” The pair have also brought multiple new faces to the club, which has left Daniel to reveal that the club is primed to climb the ladder. Headlining the new recruits is former Deniliquin Rovers gun Djaran Whyman, who is set to be solid inclusion into the Blues’ forward line. “We’ve been really happy with how everything is going so far,” Daniel said. “It’s exciting to have so many new guys at the club. “We think with the new players we have and taking into consideration some of the players we have lost, we should be vying for a top-eight spot. “And hopefully we can challenge for a top-four spot.”

Darby Walsh

– AYDIN PAYNE

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Darby Walsh (Shepparton Swans), Djaran Whyman (Deni Rovers), Corey Barrington (Koondrook Barham), Brandon Byrne (Rochester), Mitch Heggart, Joel Thompson (Shepparton) OUT: Mark Ryan (Tallygaroopna), Tom Hislop (retired), Mathew Crooks (Lake Boga) Luke Jackson, Rhys Varcoe, John Walker

Demi Morrison NETBALL COACH: EMMA GREAVES 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (13–1–4)

RENNIE

NETBALL

There will be a fresh face at the helm of Rennie’s A-grade netball outfit this season with Karen Radusek set to handle the reins for 2020. Radusek, who is new to the club, joins after a long connection with Ovens and Murray outfit Yarrawonga. The first-year coach said the Grasshoppers had been busy blooding their talented juniors, as she revealed her excitement to begin at her new club. “I really want to focus on the juniors and the youth at the club,” she said. “We have got a great group of juniors and I’ve been inviting them to pre-season training. “I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead, I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

FOOTBALL

FOOTBALL COACHES: DARBY WALSH AND DAVE DANIEL 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (7–10) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: BLAKE JORGENSEN 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: DYLAN CUNNINGHAM (23) GROUND: PICOLA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BLUES

One of the most consistent clubs in the league in the past couple of years looks set to again be contending come September action. Rennie, under the leadership of premiership coach Craig Ednie, returned to finals action in its premiership defence last year, but unfortunately went down to the eventual premiers in the preliminary final. Ednie, who shows no signs of slowing down after he claimed the best-and-fairest last year, believes his squad is primed for another finals assault. “We feel like we are pretty even to this time last year,” he said. “We’ve been able to bring in a few older, more experienced players who have played at a high standard of football. “But it looks like we will lose a couple of younger players to Yarrawonga, which is fantastic for them, we really want to see

them progress their careers.” The Grasshoppers will wave goodbye to young guns Joel O’Dwyer, Reid Clarke and Zack Smith, who are all heading to test themselves in the Ovens and Murray Football League. However, Ednie has been able to call upon some old friends to help him develop the next lot of Clarkes, O’Dwyers and Smiths. “We’ll look to try and get some experience into the next crop of juniors,” Ednie said. “And those more experienced players are going to help develop the kids. “Hopefully we can manage the workload of our players and blood the juniors and play finals. “It’s really important for small country clubs to continue to play finals so that’s what we are hoping to do.”

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Daniel Maher (Murray Magpies), Matt Pendergast (Lavington), Chris Wilson (Yarrawonga), Brad Thompson, Hayden Heta OUT: Joel O’Dwyer, Zack Smith, Reid Clarke (Yarrawonga) NETBALL COACH: KAREN RADUSEK 2019 FINISH: EIGHTH (5–12)

72 Football and Netball 2020

FOOTBALL COACH: CRAIG EDNIE 2019 FINISH: THIRD (13–6) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: CRAIG EDNIE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: CHASE STRAWHORN (72) GROUND: RENNIE RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: GRASSHOPPERS

Craig Ednie


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

STRATHMERTON

NETBALL

A magical September performance last year will be long remembered for many supporters and players of Strathmerton’s A-grade netball outfit. The Bulldogs defied the odds last year and claimed a memorable premiership, despite finishing outside the competition’s top four at the end of the home-and-away season. Their stunning finals effort involved knocking off minor premiers Tocumwal and top-four outfit Katunga and grand finalists Picola United, to seal the A-grade side’s first flag in five years. Bulldogs coach Caitlyn Price said she hoped her troops would be able to return to the form that won them the flag, as last year’s hunter now

becomes the hunted. “A lot of clubs will be out to knock us off,” Price said. “But we will take it week-by-week and try to play like we did last year. “We have brought a couple in and lost a couple, so the first couple of games will be really working out our structures. “And we learnt last year all it takes is to play your best netball at the right time of the season.” The reigning premiers wave goodbye to captain Kelly Laidlaw and Brittany Brunskill, while they welcome Liv Osborne and Sarah Quick to the kennel.

Caitlyn Price NETBALL COACH: CAITLYN PRICE 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (14–6)

TOCUMWAL NETBALL

It is back to the future for Tocumwal’s A-grade netball side in 2020, with former premiership coach Jacq-Lyn Davis back at the helm. The Bloods will be hoping the switch will help them return to the promised land of a grand final. “I had a year off last year and I’m really excited to be back and I can’t wait to get stuck into it,” Davis said. “I’ve got a big focus to use the juniors this year, it’s time to get experience into them.”

Reigning Lukies Medal winner Leah Pate has left for family reasons, while Piper Hicks, Molly Reid and Sarah Quick won’t be around this year. But despite the lengthy list of losses, last year’s minor premiers have been able to snare Kate Bird back from Cobram. “We lost a fair number of players, but we feel we’ve been able to bring in a couple of exciting talents,” Davis said.

– AYDIN PAYNE

FOOTBALL

The hunger to go around again and claim historic back-to-back titles for the Picola and District League premiers is alive and well, according to premiership co-coach Tim Bramich. Last year was a memorable season for Strathmerton, with the Bulldogs claiming their third senior premiership inside 10 seasons. Bramich revealed everyone was on the hunt again to replicate last year’s effort and bring the club its first back-to-back senior titles. “It’s been a really good pre-season, everyone is still keen and raring to go which is good,” he said. “The club has never won back-to-back premierships before and it would be great to tick that box. “They are so hard to win one, let alone two. “But the competition is shaping up to be stronger and it won’t be easy each week.” Bramich revealed the club would not steer far from its style of play during its premiership defence. “We feel that we have a recipe that works,” he said. “The side has enjoyed some recent

success which shows that we are onto something, so we won’t try and deviate too far from that. “And we feel that we have replaced the boys that have left, with Tim, Matty and Danny coming in.” Strathmerton’s challengers in Waaia and Katamatite have all looked to bolster their squads, but the Dogs have been able to add plenty of their own to the kennel. Goulburn Valley League and Shepparton United stalwart Tim Looby has joined the reigning premiers, while Shepparton’s Matt Ryan has returned to his junior club. And last year’s leading goal-kicker Travis Down has departed for Numurkah, along with Zach Wagner.

– AYDIN PAYNE

Tim Looby

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Tim Looby (Shepparton United), Matt Ryan (Shepparton), Dan Buzza (Numurkah) OUT: Trent Craven, Travis Down, Zach Wagner, Bailey Ebborn (Numurkah)

FOOTBALL COACHES: TIM BRAMICH AND SHANNON EDGAR 2019 FINISH: PREMIER (16–2) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: TYRON HILL 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: TRAVIS DOWN (48) GROUND: MEMORIAL PARK NICKNAME: BULLDOGS

FOOTBALL

Last season was a forgettable one for Tocumwal as they finished their campaign without a win and anchored to the bottom of the ladder. But with a new and energetic coach at the helm, mixed with a list of new recruits, the Bloods look set to loosen the shackles this season. First-year coach Kade Rowe joins Tocumwal from Murray Football League club Tungamah and believes he is ready to tackle the rigours of the senior coaching. “I’ve always wanted to get stuck into coaching and kept delaying it, but the opportunity arose, and I was really drawn to the idea of building a side from the bottom,” he said. “The club’s lack of success has been well documented, but I’m really excited for the challenge and I’m just looking for us to be competitive this year.

“We know where we are at, we are just looking to be as competitive as possible and hopefully we can grab some good wins and play finals.” Joining Rowe from Tungamah is a long list of recruits, most noticeably Tungamah forward Duane Haebich, who booted 35 goals last year. And two Yarrawonga additions join the Bloods, in key-forward Luke Congram and key defender Mitch Collins-Bye. “We feel that we have added experienced players around the younger boys, we want to nurture them and help them out,” Rowe said. “Young talents like Harvey White and Zander Griffin have really impressed me too. “And we feel we have recruited a spine, that was really pivotal for us.”

Jacq-Lyn Davis

PLAYER CHANGES Kade Rowe NETBALL COACH: JACQ-LYN DAVIS 2019 FINISH: FIFTH (14–4)

IN: Kade Rowe, Jacob Sampson, Corey Bourke, Duane Haebich (Tungamah), Mitch Collins-Bye, Luke Congram (Yarrawonga), Dylan Flanagan (Mulwala) OUT: Brock Thomson FOOTBALL COACH: KADE ROWE 2019 FINISH: 13TH (0–14) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: JACOB HORE 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKERS: TIM ARKLAY AND TROY POYNTON (9) GROUND: TOCUMWAL RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BLOODS

Football and Netball 2020 73


PICOLA & DISTRICT FOOTBALL NETBALL LEAGUE

WAAIA NETBALL

Waaia is looking to change its fortune on the netball court by welcoming multiple premiership players back to the fold. Nikki Foster remains at the helm of the A-grade outfit and revealed the Bombers have added a string of players who have had time off due to injury and pregnancies. “We have had some great numbers at training, and we have a few girls returning back from time off,” she said.

FOOTBALL

“Abbi Costa, Ruby Arnel and premiership captain Nicole Brown are all returning to the court which is really exciting. “And the club has got really good depth in the 17s, there are a couple of talented youngsters. “I’m looking forward to the season ahead; our goal is to play finals and fingers crossed we can get back to that level.”

Abbi Costa NETBALL COACH: NIKKI FOSTER 2019 FINISH: SEVENTH (9–1–6)

YARROWEYAH NETBALL

It was a difficult season last year for Yarroweyah’s A-grade outfit, with the Hoppers only managing one win from 16 games. But despite their disappointing 2019 season, incoming senior coach Bec Demaio is upbeat on what lies ahead after a strong summer on the training track. “There are lots of new faces at training and we have welcomed three new A-grade players,” she said. “Brittany Taylor joins from a year off and Aften Rewetie-Kahuroa joins from Barooga.

“The season is looking very promising and we are excited for round one.” The new coach takes over from Miranda Bond and is eager to jump into the A-grade saddle. “I’ve been here my whole life, and this will be my first-time coaching A-grade,” Demaio said. “Our goal is to be competitive each week and to grab some wins. “And most importantly just to enjoy the year and have fun on and off the court.”

Last season ended in agonising pain for Waaia, with the club missing out again on securing that elusive senior premiership. The minor premiers stuttered at the final hurdle against Strathmerton, but have potentially added the final piece to their premiership puzzle. Waaia has landed Goulburn Valley League premiership player Ash Holland on its list for the 2020 season, with the former Shepparton gun set to bolster an already sublime squad. And there has been a shift at the helm at Waaia, with Mark Meyland and Neil Walker to co-coach, succeeding outgoing coach Matt Brown. Meyland, who claimed the club’s leading goal-kicking award last season, said the club was thrilled to have one of the premier rucks in the region join the club. “We lost a couple of players, but we have a great addition in Ash Holland,” Meyland said. “Ash is a premier ruckman and we are really excited to have him on board. “He’ll suit our game style and we can’t wait to see him in action.” Waaia has lost both senior players Mitch Cleeland and Connor Brown during the

summer, with last year’s best-andfairest winner Cleeland heading to Shepparton United. With the addition of Holland and the continued development of the club’s junior stars, Meyland highlighted that finals will again be a goal for the outfit. “Both Neil and I want to try and nurture the junior players this year,” he said. “We have got a good bunch of kids, Harvey Walker and Sam Trower are two of many talented juniors. “We think we have a list that can play finals football, hopefully we can put it all together.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

Ash Holland

PLAYER CHANGES IN: Ash Holland (Shepparton) OUT: Mitch Cleeland (Shepparton United), Connor Brown (Nathalia)

FOOTBALL COACHES: MARK MEYLAND AND NEIL WALKER 2019 FINISH: RUNNER-UP (17–2) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: MITCH CLEELAND 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: MARK MEYLAND (62) GROUND: WAAIA RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: BOMBERS

FOOTBALL

An exciting off-season has Yarroweyah ready to take the next step and play finals football. The Hoppers have stuck with the same model from last season with two mentors, however, the club has opted for former coach Bryden Power and assistant coach Keegan Oliver to steer the ship in 2020. Power was a member of Strathmerton’s 2015 premiership outfit, while Oliver has spent time in the Murray Football League. Oliver, who played under Power more than a decade ago, said there was a profound excitement at Yarroweyah for the new season, after missing out on finals by one game last year. “Everything has been coming together really well, there is a great feeling at the club,” he said. “The club took a big step forward last season and we will try to build on that.

“Your goal is always to play finals football, but we are hoping to just improve the overall team. “There is a lot of hard work ahead and I can’t wait.” The Grasshoppers have acquired the services of Oliver’s brother Lewis, who has spent time at Warrandyte in the Eastern Football League. Meanwhile, key forward Lucas Ohlsen comes across from Barooga and ruckman Daniel Clarke joins from Cobram. “A few mates from that era when we played in the 2010 grand final have come back, which is exciting,” Oliver said. “We feel that we have recruited some important players that will help us continue going forward.”

– AYDIN PAYNE

Keegan Oliver

PLAYER CHANGES Aften Rewetie-Kahuroa NETBALL COACH: BEC DEMAIO 2019 FINISH: 12TH (1–15)

74 Football and Netball 2020

IN: Lucas Olsen (Barooga), Lewis Oliver (Warrandyte), Lance Crowe, Tim Cantrill, Daniel Clarke (Cobram), Harley Constable (Shepparton Swans) OUT: Riley Baxter (Perth), Tim Atkins (EDFL) FOOTBALL COACHES: BRYDEN POWER AND KEEGAN OLIVER 2019 FINISH: NINTH (5–11) 2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: SHAUN GREENWAY 2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: ANDREW JONES (42) GROUND: YARROWEYAH RECREATION RESERVE NICKNAME: HOPPERS


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Profile for McPherson Media Group

Football and Netball 2020  

The McPherson Media Group prides itself on providing the best football coverage in country Victoria and this year will be no different. The...

Football and Netball 2020  

The McPherson Media Group prides itself on providing the best football coverage in country Victoria and this year will be no different. The...

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