2024 SEASON PREVIEW: North Central FL

BY NATHAN DOLE

Tigers ready to confront challengers

AS REIGNING premier, Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers will face plenty of challengers across another Goldacres North Central FNL senior footy season.

Jointly coached by Billy McInnes and Bryce Delmenico, Sea Lake Nandaly capped an 18-nil run in ’23 as the Tigers captured their second NCFNL premiership.

Best for the yellow and black in a 76-62 victory against Nullawil on grand final day were Tyson McKenzie, Jack Poulton, John Summerhayes, Kane Donnan and Ryan O’Sullivan.

Recruited by SLN after stints at AFL level with Adelaide Crows and Geelong, Josh Jenkins led the attack on four goals in the grand final as McKenzie chipped in with three.

The Tigers will again be expecting fierce opposition from Nullawil, Birchip-Watchem, Donald and a new-look Wycheproof-Narraport this season.

Birchip-Watchem

The Trevor Ryan-coached Bulls bowed out of the premiership race in a 56-68 loss to Nullawil in the preliminary final.

Birchip-Watchem makes its way to Nullawil for the round one clash on April 13.

A strong squad is bolstered by the recruitment of ruckman Hamish Hosking who had starred the previous two seasons with Sandhurst in the Bendigo FNL.

Other newcomers include Daniel Bell from Warrack Eagles; Meyrick Buchanan from University Blues; Harrison Hawkins from Caroline Springs; and Matthew Lade from CDHBU.

Keen to build on the run of a premiership in ’22 and third last year, Birchip Watchem has also brought in Angus Butterfield from Woorinen, Ballan’s Stefan Pye, Darcy Reid from Waratah, and East Geelong’s Nick Ryan.

Boort

Plenty of new faces in the Dale Cameron-coached Magpies squad.

It was a tough run for Boort as it ended last season in seventh place on a win-loss tally of 4-11, and a draw.

Key recruits for the Magpies include Will Perryman from Pyramid Hill; Jacob Rowlands from Yea; and the Sebastapol duo of Matt Austin and James Keeble.

Boort has also welcomed Jayden Dick, Viv Oldfields and Nick Whyte from Wests in the Central Australia Football League.

Also new to the Magpies nest are Jhye Baddeley-Kelly, North Heidelberg; Wade Broadstock, Colbinabbin; James Byrne, Boroondara Hawks; Nick Clydesdale, Seymour; Maclahi Coleman, Castlemaine; Mitchell O’Donoghue, Forest Hill; and Angus Potter, Minyip Murtoa.

Most recent of Boort’s three premierships was in 2008.

The Magpies kick off a new campaign at Sea Lake.

Charlton

A classy midfielder with Kangaroo Flat, Mitch Collins is new playing coach of the Charlton Navies.

Collins takes charge at a club which was eighth in ’23 on a 4-12 record.

Newcomers at Charlton are Tyler Bates, Skipton; Jack Browne, Keilor; Caileb Good, Nullawil; Deek Roberts, Horsham; Joseph Tormey, Rupanyup; and Oscar Wyrzykowski, Goorambat.

Charlton marked its 13th premiership victory in 2016.

After a first-round bye, the Navies make their way to Boort on April 20.

Donald

Knocked out on day one of last year’s finals series, Donald will be determined to strike back.

The Royals achieved a 13-5 record to be third at the end of the home-and-away series, but could not stop Nullawil’s run to a 28-point victory in the first semi.

Recruits to the Josh Potter-squad include Andrew Browne from Taytoon; Jake Italia from Blackburn; Minyip Murtoa’s George Morgan; Warrack Eagles’ Patrick Morgan; and  Todd Stevenson from Natimuk United.

Nullawil

Runner-up in its debut season in the North Central competition, Natimuk has turned to Darryl Wilson, a three-time premiership-winning coach at Strathfieldsaye Storm to lead the club in ’24.

Wilson was a key figure in Storm’s dominance across the past decade in which the club achieved four premiership victories and was runner-up three times.

Nullawil’s best in the grand final were Ben Brennan, David Isbister, Dean Smith and Matt Quigley.

A great recruiting spree by Nullawil included the signing of Swan Hill midfielder Matthew Wade, a three-time winner of the Jack Betts Medal as fairest and best in the Central Murray FNL.

Also keen to make their mark with Nullawil are Nicholas Keogh from Kangaroo Flat, and Hunter Lawrence from Strathfieldsaye Storm.

The Maroons have also gained Mark Austin, Angus Cowell and Spencer Nicholls from Wycheproof-Narraport; Donald’s Peter Faulks; Sam Hogan from Birchip Watchem; Smith Morrison from Maiden Gully YCW juniors.

Also new at Nullawil are Kerang’s Rylee Smith, and Caramut’s Mark Trollope.

Nullawil is at home on April 13 to take on Birchip-Watchem in the first round.

Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers

The reigning champs have kept most of the squad which marked an unbeaten run in ’23.

A newcomer to the team coached by Bryce Delmenico and Billy McInnes is Tyson McKenzie from Waratah.

Formidable squad includes Trent and Wade Donnan, Austin Mertz, Thomas Cox and Will Simpson.

Will unfurl the premiership flag before its home game against Boort on April 13.

St Arnaud

The Saints will be desperate to hit back after a winless run in ’23.

First-up test for the Scott Driscoll-coached St Arnaud is a home game on April 13 against Wedderburn at Lord Nelson Park.

Newcmers at St Arnaud include Ryan Newton from Clunes; East Geelong’s Ryan Lempa; Jordan Nicholas from Moonta; Zac Phillips from Eagles; Sale’s Bailey Nicholas; and Scott Driscoll from Jeparit Rainbow

The Saints most recent of 11 premiership victories was in 2015.

Wedderburn

The Redbacks will be aiming to claim a few rungs on the ladder after last season’s sixth placing.

A triple premiership-winning player at North Bendigo, Tom Metherell steps up to coaching at senior level for the first time.

Metherell has joined Wedderburn after a stint with Cohuna Kangas.

Recruits for the Redbacks include Jye Dingfelder from Kangaroo Flat juniors; Newbridge’s Tomas Dingfelder; Noah Furlong from Kangaroo Flat; Antony and Michael Zelencich from Carisbrook; and Richard Zelencich from Bacchus Marsh.

Wedderburn starts its season on St Arnaud’s turf.

Most recent of the Redbacks eight senior premierships was in 2014.

Wycheproof-Narraport

The Demons have brought in premiership player Wayne Mitrovic as senior coach.

An outstanding playing career for Mitrovic included stints with Macorna, Wycheproof-Narraport, Sandhurst, and Maiden Gully YCW Eagles.

Mitrovic brings of coaching experience to the role.

Newcomers to the den include Morgan Fawcett from University Blacks; Josh Grabowski from Geelong Amateur; East Keilor’s Nicholas Grabowski; and Altona’s Steven Kennedy and Jack Marlais.

A win-loss tally of 7-8, and a draw, meant Wycheproof-Narraport finished last season in fifth place.

The Demons are at Donald in round one.

Holder of a league record of 19 premiership flags.

Most recent was the back-to-back wins in 2017 and ’18.