New season: Upwey-Tecoma will be out to defend its 2011 premiership this Saturday. Picture: Wayne HawkinsYARRA Valley Mountain District Football League opens its football and netball seasons this Saturday.
Emerald will go in division 1 after winning the division 2 premiership in both football and netball.
Will they win only a handful of games, or will they creep into the top five? That question will only be answered in the season.
Wandin has recruited well with 33 new names arriving at the club. Belgrave and Emerald have also played a part in the recruiting game, gaining 24 and 22 new players respectively.
A few big names have left their respective clubs with Mt Evelyn losing stars Mark Martin, James Charge and Michael Smith to the Eastern Football League.
The likes of Dean Cleven (Monbulk), Wade Lees (Mount Evelyn) and Patrick Rosier (Olinda Ferny Creek) have all assumed prominent roles with Casey Scorpions.
With Damian Monkhorst stepping down as coach at Woori Yallock, Danny Ryan has taken his place for the 2012 season and there is no doubt he has big shoes to fill.
Belgrave’s new coach Ben Collins, from the Gippsland League, has already stamped his mark at the club, which is expected to be a strong force this season.
Mt Evelyn has recruited a few players, including Russell Cowan, who has won two league best and fairests for both Yarra Glen and Powelltown. Mt Evelyn has also picked up Regan Davis from the VAFA and Michael Paolini from the EFL.
Josh Wilson joins his brother at Powelltown, and Monbulk boys Jarrett Anderson and Dylan Werts return to their home club.
Belgrave looks to have recruited well, as have Kinglake, Yea and Alexandra. Upwey Tecoma looks to be an ominous force once again and their new coach Greg Spence will be keen to repeat last season’s success.
Netball has been growing at a phenomenal rate and this season brings the introduction of four grades for the first time. Not only have netball numbers grown, the skill level has also improved greatly.
The teams to beat in division 1 netball appear to be Wandin, Mount Evelyn and Upwey Tecoma.
Warburton Millgrove may also be ready to step up, and it will be interesting to see how Emerald will hold up after winning last season’s netball grand final in division 2.
Division 2 netball appears to be a fairly even contest, with no team really standing out.
New Demon: Former AFL and VFL star Brett Johnson will coach Montrose this season. Picture: Lucy Di PaoloWHAT DO YOU THINK? SCROLL TO BELOW THIS STORY TO POST A COMMENT.
The Eastern Football League division 2 season starts this Saturday. Roy Ward takes a look at what promises to be a tightly contested season.
Coach: Neil Winterton
Ins: Neil Winterton (Mulgrave), Aaron Walton (Norwood), Jayden Murphy (Eastern Lions), Dave Burmeister (travel).
Outs: Bernie Dinneen (East Ringwood), Steve Newman (Mooroolbark), Adrian Gawne (Upper Ferntree Gully).
Chances: Former VFL and Mulgrave star Winterton will slip right into Dinneen’s shoes as playing coach, but the real question for the Waters will be whether their mid-level players are good enough to win matches. Walton, Murphy and Burmeister should all play key roles. It’s time for the Waters players to stand up to the rigours and challenges of senior football, and 2012 needs to be their year.
Coach: Brett Johnson
Ins: Brett Johnson (VFL).
Outs: Troy Simmonds (break), Kayne Petifer (Northern FL).
Chances: Johnson joins a Montrose side that sits on the cusp of promotion to division 1 after its loss to Lilydale last year. The former AFL and VFL midfielder should add plenty of quality on the field and a practised, professional approach to the coaching staff, so expect big things from the Demons. The same younger stars who stepped up in the finals last year will need to stand up for the whole of 2012. The loss of Petifer’s quality and creativity in attack will hurt.
Coach: Paul Mynott
Ins: Michael Bussey (TAC Cup), James Powell (Scoresby), Jake Ryall (Scoresby), Rudi Falovic (break).
Outs: Cody Morris (travel), Kris Barlow (Vermont), Darren Jeffries (Gippsland).
Chances: The Hawks are quietly confident they can go a step further in 2012 after a heartbreaking finals exit last season. The loss of Morris and Jeffries removes quality from the side but Bussey, Powell and Falovic, a towering ruckman, fill some significant holes in the line-up. The young Hawks are a year older, a year wiser and should be in contention right up until the end of the season, although whether this is their year is still to be seen.
Coach: Brett Fisher
Ins: Steve Newman (Bayswater), James Charge, Mark Martin and Michael Smith (all Mt Evelyn),
Outs: Darren Spence (YVMDFL).
Chances: The Mustangs had a horror start to 2011 and never recovered, but with a long off-season behind them expect to be a more dangerous side in 2012. Charge, Martin and Smith all starred in the Yarra Valley. Expect them to be equally effective in the EFL while Kire Talevski and Cameron Linford should again be leaders. Whether the Mustangs make finals will depend on their consistency.
Coach: Ryan James
Ins: Craig Skicko (SFL), Andrew Perrin (Omeo),
Outs: Neil Winterton (Bayswater), Luke Ablett (VAFA), Mitch Collins (YVMDFL), Cohen Howell (Noble Park).
Chances: The Lions have lost some high-profile players and have turned their focus to their home-grown players. The drop from division 1 hurt the club but the lessons have been absorbed so expect a fitter and faster Lions. James is a club stalwart and provides great enthusiasm. Whether they are a finals side or simply a tough competitor is for debate, but don’t underestimate the Lions.
Upper Ferntree Gully
Coach: Andy Hayman
Ins: Adrian Gawne (Bayswater), Haytham Elnakadi (Mulgrave),
Outs: David Eddy (VFL).
Chances: The Uppers will be looking to continue the gains made under Hayman in 2011. Gawne and Elnakadi should improve the side while a number of younger Uppers should establish themselves in the seniors. Whether the Uppers are good enough to challenge the best in the division remains to be seen, but they will certainly give it their best.
Coach: Scott Hunter
Ins: Mitch Hayes (TAC Cup), Travis Allen (VAFA).
Chances: The Blues shape as a much tougher proposition with a healthier list, and the inclusion of Hayes and Allen should boost the midfield. Hunter believes his side was unlucky with injuries last year so a full side could press the best sides. An in-form Blues would make life hard for any opposition.
Doncaster, Doncaster East and Donvale also play in this division.
Flying Falcons: Knox Falcons are ready for a big year with midfielders like George Stuckey in good form. Picture: Sam StiglecWHAT DO YOU THINK? SCROLL TO BELOW THIS STORY TO POST A COMMENT.
The Eastern Football League division 1 season kicks off on April 21. Roy Ward runs the rule over the competition.
Coach: Brett Chandler
Ins: Andrew Hughes (injury).
Outs: Jarrod Wright (Balwyn).
Chances: The Blues have turned their efforts within during the off-season with a major focus on preparing their younger players for senior football. Chandler believes a lighter Damien Cupido will again be a match-winner while the return of Hughes and emergence of several other Blues will make the side better. But their best endeavours could still see them short of the finals.
Coach: Bernie Dinneen
Ins: Bernie Dinneen (Bayswater), Joel Perry (Echuca), Aaron Fiora (WBFL), David Bell and Cam Purdy (both VFL).
Outs: Andrew McGuiness (travel), Anthony Van Rooyen (SFL), Dylan Werts (YVMDFL).
Chances: Dinneen has the Roos firing on cylinders leading into 2012. After a winning start to 2011 the Roos fell back to the field but an inclusion of star recruits Perry, Bell and Purdy as well as former AFL player Fiora shape the Roos as a significant challenger to Noble Park’s crown. How quickly the Roos mesh together will decide how quickly they join the top echelon of the EFL.
Coach: Kevin Tibaldi
Ins: Scott Day (Euroa), Patrick Jones (Gippsland), Justin Gould (East Gippsland).
Outs: Leigh Williams (AFL), Michael Costello (Heathmont).
Chances: At their best the Norsemen were a dangerous side last season but lacked enough wins to make a serious impact. They will miss Williams whose goal kicking was vital but the return of Day from Euroa will add to their midfield while the club’s younger, emerging players will need to take on more responsibility if the club is to rise into premiership contention.
Coach: Jon Knight
Ins:: Jacob Castricum (VFL), Myles Krakouer (West Adelaide), Tom Chisholm (Old Hailybury), Brendan Makea (travel).
Outs: Todd Daniher (Vermont), Jye Sigersma (Upper Ferntree Gully).
Chances: The Falcons want to progress deeper into the finals in 2012. After snaring a surprise berth in the finals last season, Knight wants his side to take the next step into the top three. Castricum made a few cameos with the Falcons last season and will add class while Krakouer and Chisholm shape as match-winners. The Falcons will have to work but they could well move into the top level this season.
Coach: Simon Rourke
Ins: Steve Wright (Emerald), Jarrad Barden (Mt. Evelyn), Robbie Allen (Woori Yallock).
Outs: Andrew Bawden (retired), Josh Barrett (North Ringwood), Marcus Baxter (Chirnside Park), Matt Lawrence (Coldstream).
Chances: Lilydale returns to division 1 with high hopes after a memorable division 2 premiership season. But they return to find the top division just as competitive as when they were relegated. The Falcons’ much-vaunted midfield will again need to fire and the club must take every win it can to avoid getting stuck in the relegation battle late in the season.
Coach: Ben Delarue
Ins: Steve Dinnell and Nick King (both VFL).
Outs: Dylan Troutman (VFL).
Chances: The Bulldogs will be back on Cheong Reserve this season and look forward to a more stable year after having to fight in plenty of matches last year. Dinnell and King will add plenty to the side while Troutman will be missed but could make a few appearances if not winning selection in the VFL. With a fully fit midfield the Bulldogs will challenge plenty of sides but once again consistency and fitness will determine the club’s finals hopes.
Coach: Mick Fogarty
Ins: Andrew McConnell (VFL), Cohen Howell (Mulgrave), Luke McLean (SANFL), Steve Tolongs (Myrtleford).
Outs: Peter O’Brien (retired), Kyle Martin (VFL), Lachie Delahunty (VFL), Beau Dowler (VFL), Jackson Sketcher (VFL).
Chances: The outs look ominous for Noble Park but the two-time premiers have made some wise signings while also retaining proven stars such as Craig Anderson, Stewart Kemperman and Ziggy Alwan. McLean and McConnell come with good reputations, so expect Fogarty’s Bulls to be the EFL benchmark once again.
Coach: Scott Whyte.
Ins: Jared Goldsack (Pakenham), Jayden Hoegal (VFL).
Outs: Steve Pimm (AFNL), Anthony Vanin (ROC).
Chances: Although two-time grand final coach Dale Bower has left the Magpies, the side remains full of talent with 18 players from their grand final side returning along with key signings Goldsack and Hoegal. New coach Whyte has his side focused and ready for the season ahead. Whether they remain as strong as improved sides like Vermont, East Ringwood and Knox will be a question answered in the opening rounds.
Balwyn, East Burwood and Vermont also play in this division.
Helping hand: Russell Moore helps the elderly in Knox, including Valerie Winslade and Mario Mealing, by taking them to medical appointments. Picture: Ted KloszynskiWHEN Russell Moore found himself unemployed in his mid-50s, he decided not to waste away the days doing nothing.
Instead, he kept busy by driving elderly Knox residents to social events and hospital appointments across the region as a volunteer for not-for-profit organisation Bridges.
Mr Moore used his own car before it “got a bit long in the tooth”, and he became a Bridges bus driver.
Bridges has recently widened the eligibility requirements to use its transport service and now urgently needs more volunteer bus drivers.
Previously, only pensioners who were permanently unable to drive could use the service, but now pensioners who require transport on a temporary basis or who only drive in their local area can also use it.
Bridges spokeswoman Alex Coubek said the significant change would assist more pensioners to attend medical appointments and reduce the risk of isolation.
Mr Moore said he took a 94-year-old woman to the Rowville Community Centre every Friday to play bingo. “It gives them a bit of enjoyment. They’re not just sitting there watching television – they’re getting out of the house.”
He has been volunteering with the organisation for almost five years and puts on the Bridges bus driver hat every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
While the pensioners are enjoying themselves at their various social activities, Mr Moore either has a coffee with them or does some shopping.
“It’s good just to give something back to the community. They’re nice people and most of them are still very sharp,” he said.
But there’s also a benefit for Mr Moore in the long term. “I’ll probably end up on the bus myself one day. Hopefully, they’ll give me a free ride when I’m not able to drive.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer can call Bridges on 9729 9499.
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MAROONDAH Council has not given up hope on being nominated as the preferred location for a new youth mental health service, despite rumours Knox has already won the honour.
The municipalities have been battling to get the headspace youth mental health hub in their area, since the organisation last year announced its intention to open an outer east site.
Media reports have indicated a consortium of community health services has recommended the Knox Ozone site in Wantirna South over Maroondah’s offer in Ringwood. Official representatives have not confirmed this, and the final decision lies with headspace and the federal government.
Knox mayor Adam Gill said he knew one thing was certain – and that was the preferred location for the outer east hub was Knox Ozone.
He said there was already a mental health service in Maroondah, but not in Knox. Ringwood police, Maroondah mayor Rob Steane and Deakin MP Mike Symon met at the proposed Ringwood site at 120 Maroondah Highway last week to discuss their bid for the centre.
Cr Steane said Ringwood was the major transport hub connecting bus and train services in the outer east, Lilydale and Healesville. Mr Symon said he fully supported Maroondah Council’s bid to have the headspace site in Maroondah.
“It is laughable to suggest that that a young person without a car who is living in Mt Evelyn or Healesville could practically ever access a service based in Knox.”
But Youth Advocacy Group president Anthony Osborne said a survey of 120 young people showed 83 percent preferred Knox.
“Many of the respondents outlined that they felt unsafe at Ringwood station. Residents from Yarra Ranges also outlined that despite catching the Ringwood line for many years they still didn’t feel safe.”
A headspace spokeswoman said the organisation was unable to comment on the proceedings as it was confidential. A decision was expected by the end of the month.