Home town heroes set to boot up – BFL season preview
IN just over a week East Point will belatedly raise their McDonalds Ballarat Football League flag under lights but before that we take a look at what’s in the offing for all local BFL teams.
2021 Coach: Joe Carmody
2019: Finished 10th (H&A) P16 W3 D1 L12
Key Ins: Josh Gibson (Hawthorn), Jake Dunne (Buninyong), Nathan Petrikios (Waubra)
Key Outs: Keegan Mellington (travel), Jed Hill (Sebastopol), Jesse Nicholls (SMW Rovers)
A lackluster 2019 season for the Swans has been bolstered by some big-name signings and retention of some super young talent.
Arguably the biggest acquisition in the league this season, triple AFL-premiership player Josh Gibson, will provide a much-needed experience in defence.
Along with Gibson, the likes of Bailey Van De Heuvel, Mitch Martin and new captain, Sam James, have pivotal roles down back with all three amongst the best players week after week back in season 2019.
New key forward Jake Dunne will be racing against the clock to be fit after damaging his finger at training as Joe Carmody looks to pair the ex-Buninyong Bomber up forward with 2019 Tony Lockett Medallist Andrew Hooper.
The Swans back six looks like one of the best in the competition, however, with question marks around their midfield and forward it still might take something special to see them back in the finals hunt.
2021 Coach: Jake Bridges
2019: Finished 1st (H&A) P16 W11 L5
Key Ins: James Lukich (Waubra), Samuel Cue (Springbank), Lachlan Barber (Kangaroo Flat)
Key Outs: Daniel Tung (employment), Mitch Tuddenham (AFL Barwon)
Once again, flag favourite’s and with a third successive premiership on the horizon the East Point juggernaut continues to roll.
From its latest premiership side, only Daniel Tung is expected to miss at this stage due to work commitments, showcasing the remarkable job Bridges has done in retaining such talented list with VFL-listed players left, right and centre.
To go with this, East have added highly rated utility Aaron Hayes who was a dual Premiership player in 2016 and 2017 with Kyabram, 2019 Central Highlands Best and Fairest winner James Lukich, ex-Springbank skipper Samuel Cue and experienced campaigner Lachlan Barber to an already impressive list.
The Kangas have continued to find a way to make their very limited weaknesses into the strengths and it’s hard to see any pundit going against them to do a three-peat.
2021 Coach: Dale Power
2019: Finished 9th (H&A) – P16 W5 D1 L10
Key Ins: Nick Rippon (North Melbourne VFL), Fergus Greene (Western Bulldogs), Timothy Collins (Dunnstown)
Key Outs: Bailey Edwards (Maryborough), Ben Taylor (Yarraville), Kynan Raven (Carngham Linton)
Headlining Laker recruits is 2015 JJ Liston Trophy winner Nick Rippon, with the 26-year-old ball magnet boasting an award winning VFL career with North Ballarat and more recently North Melbourne.
Remarkably, Rippon appeared in the best players in 47 of his 75 VFL games dating back to 2014 and would be one of the favourites to add a Henderson Medal to his own trophy cabinet.
Ex-Western Bulldog Fergus Greene has also selected the Lakers as his feeder club, but will mainly be seen applying his trade with Box Hill in the VFL.
Hopefully that the likes of new young recruit Timothy Collins will be able to fill the void left by Bailey Edwards and Henderson Medallist Ben Taylor.
Goals were hard to come by in 2019 for the Lakers with small forwards Nathan Pring (18) and Jacob Coxall (15) being the clubs leading goal kickers and will need more if they are going to be relevant.
2021 Coach: Brendan Macartney
2019: Finished 7th (H&A) P16 W7 L9
Key Ins: Thomas Nash (Waubra), Jonathan O’Brien (Springbank), Josh McDermott (Beaufort)
Key Outs: Sam Willian (Skipton), Will Young (WRFL), Ben Simpson (South Barwon)
A healthy North Ballarat City list will give itself every chance of returning to the finals action that eluded them 18 months ago.
Ball magnets Daniel Jones, club best and fairest winner Simon McCartin and Tim Spiers are all on track for a return and will help a midfield that was ravaged by injury in season 2019.
Adding Ex-AFL Coach Brendan Macartney is only going help fast track the development of the many good young players and recruiting big man Josh McDermott is one step towards giving their elite midfield the best service possible.
However, only six can make it and with their poor record in the east involving highway travel (just one win from eight trips in 2018/19) makes it hard to see them forcing their way back in unless Macartney can turn around there away form.
2021 Coach: Jarrett Giampaolo
2019: Finished 6th (H&A) – P16 W10 L6
Key Ins: Izaak Grant (Hepburn), Colby McDonald (Tatura), Chris Giampaolo (Returning)
Key Outs: Ben Smyth (Darwin), Liam Phillips (AFL Barwon)
Ten years since they last tasted premiership success in the Ballarat Football Netball League, Redan are firmly poised to give it another crack after falling in a mud bath semi final loss to Sebastopol back in 2019.
Reigning best and fairest winner Lachie George looks to partner up with veteran ruckman Orron Stephenson once again, hoping to emulate the clubs stunning 7-0 run to start last time the club was able to run out on the park.
The addition of Izaak Grant from Hepburn should have Lion fans excited as he possesses some serious x-factor and goal kicking ability with seasons of over 100 goals in junior footy for the club.
Grant joins Lachlan McLean and Cooper Atchinson on the VFL List at North Melbourne and subject to their young guns availability week-to-week might determine their finishing position in the home and away season.
2021 coach: Michael Searl
2019: Finished 2nd (H&A) – P16 W11 L5
Key Ins: James Richards (Warrnambool), Michael Lockyer (Lismore), Jed Hill (Ballarat Swans)
Key Outs: Geoff Lovett (Buninyong), Brett Goodes (retired), Tom Peterson (retired)
The fairy-tale story of season 2019, Sebas finally made its way back not to only finals footy but the biggest day in local footy, going down gallantly to East Point.
Since then the club has welcomed Michael Searl as their new coach along with Tony Lockyer taking the reigns as skipper.
Lockyer’s brother, Michael, has come across from Lismore in the Mininera and District Football League where he booted 320 goals in 98 games over five season and helps add another weapon along with spearhead Michael Powell, James Keeble and ex-Brisbane Lion Matt Austin.
The club is also excited to welcome back youngster Jack McNab, who returns from serious injury and hasn’t played senior footy for the side since making the Ballarat Football Netball League Team of the Year in 2017.
Only question left to answer is: was 2019 a fluke or will the Burra be the real deal once again?