WHAT is going on at PAKENHAM? Hot on the heels of last week’s news that star defender Nathan Brown is departing the den, comes word that a couple more big name players are moving on. DOVETON officials are openly celebrating the acquisition of on-baller/forward John ‘Smooth’ Atwell, together with up-and-coming ruckman Frank D’Agostino. Both played leading roles in this season’s finals with the Lions. Atwell has family connections at Doveton, while it is believed the Lions determination to sign former ROC big men Kym Jones and Dane Roy was the main reason D’Agostino sought a new home. He obviously would have been relegated to the third or fourth choice at Toomuc Reserve, but will form a formidable combination with Gazette 2010 Young Gun Vergim ‘Giggsy’ Faik at the Doves.
WONTHAGGI has appointed Leigh McDonald as senior playing coach for 2011. McDonald, a 28-year-old midfielder, took CHURCHILL to the North Gippsland grand final in three successive seasons from 2007 to 2009, winning the flag in 2008. He won the league best and fairest in that season and was named Gippsland’s coach of the year in 2009. Prior to Churchill, McDonald had extensive stints with ACT team BELCONNEN and in the QAFL. Last season’s coach Paul Brosnan will stay on as an assistant coach, while star player Ryan Underwood and former star forward Tim Hooper have also been named as assistants.
LEONGATHA has re-appointed Adrian Campbell for his fifth season as senior coach. Campbell expects many of his talented under 18s, who won the thirds flag this season, to graduate to the senior ranks and make a big impression in 2011. The Parrots are likely to lose young dynamos Matt Willcox and Dylan Westaway to GIPPSLAND POWER, but two emerging prospects, tough ruck rover Tom Marriot and Sean Westaway, who have been training at PORT MELBOURNE, were cut from the Borough’s list last week and will return. The Parrots are pleased to have signed STONY CREEK’S Chris Verboon. He is a tall utility who can hold down a key post at both ends of the park. Verboon was chased by the CASEY SCORPIONS last season, but opted to stay in the Alberton League, where he is one of the prime movers in the competition and should be a real acquisition.
STAY tuned for the announcement of big-name signings at three Casey Cardinia League clubs early in January. None will give details due to official clearances not opening until the first week of February, however, CRANBOURNE, BEACONSFIELD and TOORADIN are believed to have agreements with ex-elite level players for 2011. KEYSBOROUGH has also been busy with up to four former NOBLE PARK players set to join the Burra next year.
FORMER GIPPSLAND POWER and ST KILDA defender Matt Ferguson has returned to SALE. Ferguson was delisted by the Saints in 2008 and played the last two seasons in the WAFL with PERTH, where he racked up 40 senior games and re-invented himself as a forward, kicking 57 goals. In more good news for the Magpies, four-time best and fairest winner Shane Fyfe, who has played at VERMONT over the last two seasons, is set to return. However, on the down side, former CARLTON rookie Craig Flint has told the club he intends to leave and play for a club closer to his employment in Melbourne. Nick Anderson has been re-appointed as the Magpies coach for his second season.
GIPPSLAND league newcomers BAIRNSDALE has appointed Brent Cowell as senior coach. Cowell was originally signed by SALE for the 2011 season, but after Bairnsdale was re-admitted to the Gippsland League, Cowell asked to be released to play at the club where his father Bruce was a star centreman and club legend. Cowell won a best and fairest with ST KILDA reserves prior to a career in the WAFL with EAST PERTH, where he notched his 150 senior game this year.
MOVES are afoot for GIPPSLAND football to have the services of a chaplain in 2011. Gippsland League general manager Chris Soumilas is taking a lead role with the ‘chaplaincy’ initiative, which should also be available to the Mid Gippsland, Ellinbank and Alberton leagues if present planning goes ahead. In other news from Gippsland League headquarters, next year’s interleague clash with the Central Murray League will take place on 28 May and will be played in Gippsland. The Central Murray League wanted the game played at a venue where they would not have to travel as far but, after a bit of coercion from the VCFL, the Murray boys have been told they must make the trek to the Latrobe Valley, because the Gippsland League has sacrificed their home ground advantage twice in recent years.