THE 2014 Alberton Football Netball League kicks off round one this Saturday which will see a new era in local football with the demise of DWWWW who have pulled out of the competition and Yarram’s departure to the North Gippsland Football League.
There will be night games played early in the season at Foster, round one against Toora and Easter Saturday, round 3 against Fish Creek, while Korumburra-Bena will turn on their lights for the first time against Dalyston in round 2 with football commencing at lunchtime with their under 11s starting the day off.
There seems to be a lot of optimism about with clubs all looking forward to the new season. Some clubs are struggling with numbers in their junior sides, but in general most seem to be okay.
AFNL Director of Special Events and Publicity, Gary Adams told The Mirror, “although we have lost a couple of clubs we believe we are in for a great season of footy throughout South Gippsland.
“The new draw concept should see excellent competitive games to kick off the first five rounds of the season, as last year’s top six teams play each other and the lower teams from last season play each other. This will give a very good indication of how clubs will go this season.
“Last season’s Premier Kilcunda Bass will unveil their Premiership flag in Rd 1 with a game against Inverloch Kongwak.
“The AFNL now have two grounds, Foster now joined by Korumburra Bena, with excellent lighting systems for night football. Korumburra Bena will unveil their new lights in Rd 2 against Dalyston.
“There will be four blockbuster games on Easter Saturday April 19th.
“The AFNL will play Interleague games against the Riddell & District league at Romsey on May 24th in Seniors and U/18 Football and Senior Netball.
“All club supporters will be keen to see the many new footballers who have been cleared to the league. The Board believes that all clubs have improved playing lists this season.”
The Panthers will be looking to make it four premierships in a row as they embark on the new season, and it could be achievable as they haven’t lost too many from 2013 and have picked up some handy players to bolster their line up.
Damien Holmes returns to the club and new assistant coach Ben McKay from Beaconsfield will no doubt lead from the front. They also have some very talented thirds boys who have performed well in pre season practice matches who are putting their hand up as well.
Departures include Matt Hutchinson and Jim Evans who have retired while Jarod Attenborough and Brett Anthony have not been sighted.
Dean Alger is coach again and the club is hoping for the best as most clubs are at this time of the year.
The club is short of fourths players and their under 13s are also struggling for numbers.
The Sharks have been on a recruiting drive under new presidents Anthony Hullick and Frank Keily.
They have picked up new coach and former junior Hayden Browne who returns to the club after stints in Queensland and Leongatha. Stu and John Kilsby also return from Leongatha, while big Brenton Byrnes has moved from Stony Creek.
Chris Hay and Ryan Jencke from Coringal are also new arrivals along with Nick Giles from Adelaide.
Simon McMicking is the only departure due to work commitments in WA.
The club is not too bad for juniors, with some new players turning up in recent weeks to help bolster their numbers.
The club is holding their 10-year premiership reunion on the long weekend in June which will be a highlight during the season.
The Lions have lost a number of experienced players with Lucas McMillan, Brenton Byrnes, Kyle Van Der Pluym and Jack Hughes all departing.
Robert Eddy will play at Port Melbourne in the VFL but could return to play some games during the season.
Arrivals include Lachie Park from Fish Creek, Poowong best and fairest winner Brendan Hayes, while Cam Stone is hoping to play more than his three games last year due to serious injuries.
A number of thirds players played senior football last season, who may be called upon again this year to help fill the void.
Chris Day is senior coach this season.
Brendan Kimber is the new coach from the Ellinbank League and along with Mark Riki who is returning will help bolster the Island.
Tim Oke, Tim Daff and Cal and Wade McConnon are departures, the latter two have gone back to East Ringwood.
The club will be relying on more of their talented juniors, and are hopeful of being thereabouts again this season.
There have been lots of changes at the Bulldogs with Jai Neagle, Ash Snooks and Justin Smith (Fish Creek), Will Jeffs (overseas), Shaun Patterson, Scott Braithwaite and Mark Bradley all departing, along with coach Peter Helms.
Aaron Hayes, Jake Cochrane, Josh O’Brien, James North, Josh Morrison, Jack Griffiths, Matt Thorneycroft and Mitch Nobilius have all joined the club and will be handy acquisitions.
Dean Hendrikse who was assistant coach at Warragul last season is the new coach.
The club will turn on their new lights in round two against Dalyston with football starting at lunchtime with their under 11s, with the senior game scheduled for 7.00 p.m.
The club is somewhat short of players in the thirds, but their fourths and netball sides are all good to go.
It will be interesting to see how the club goes after such a big season last year.
Some good inclusions include Lucas McMillan from Stony Creek, Will Hume from Nar Nar Goon and Greg Munro, Richard Hummerston and James Ogden. Clint McCaughan is back from overseas also which will help.
Dylan Clark is a participant in the Foxtel footy show “The Recruit” which commences this weekend so he is also unavailable. The show goes for nine weeks, with someone being eliminated each week, so he will return at some stage during the season, the later the better for Dylan. Former Foster and league dual best and fairest winner Shaun Everington is also a participant in the show.
The club reports they have good numbers in all grades and should be competitive. The Sea Eagles feel they have a tough draw playing the top sides to start the season but they are hoping to be up to the challenge early.
Toora & District
The Magpies are looking forward to the new season with new recruits Ben Vardy and John Pintus from the Allies, and also Justin King, Ben Corrie, Evan Stuchberry, David McKean and Trent Crawford joining the fold. Michael O’Sullivan also returns to the club after starting as a junior at the Magpies.
Departures include Ben Osborne, Mick Haddad, Carl Johnston and Paul Ellis.
Numbers are good for the fourths, while their thirds could do with a few more players.
After struggling for a few seasons, the club hopes to be competitive in most games this year and move up the ladder.
The Tigers have lost three of their 2010 premiership side with Brad Rooney and Cal Van Dyke playing in Melbourne and Brendan Weston going to Mirboo North. Jack Weston has also moved to Morwell.
On the positive side a number of new players have arrived from the Greensborough district in Luke Harbinson, Jake Patterson, Marcus Gleave, Taylor Veal, Michael Beams, Dale Smith and Abikar Ahmed which will give the Tigers a new lease of life.
Promising juniors Elliot Staley and Eddie Smith will also get more senior games after having a taste last season.
The club needs some more juniors with their thirds and fourths a bit light on for numbers.
Thursday night teas, which are a real feature at the club will commence this week.
The lights at the netball court have also been installed so it’s all systems go for the first night game of the season on Saturday night against Toora and also the Easter Saturday clash against Fish Creek.