YVMDFL: Big names feature in recruiting wars

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.