HDFNL | Football Season Preview

WAYS to stop Lockington Bamawm United have been on the minds of many opponents ahead of the Bendigo Bank Heathcote District Football Netball League’s 2022 senior footy season.

Action kicks off April 2 when North Bendigo plays Heathcote at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street from 2.30pm.

Later in the day, Colbinabbin takes on Elmore under the M.J. Morgan Reserve lights in Colbinabbin from 6.15pm.


Last year the Brodie Collins-coached LBU capped an unbeaten run of 12 games on the way to being declared premier in a season cut short by COVID.

There have been few changes to a Cats line-up that has a powerful attack, strong defence, and fleet-footed and skilful midfield.

LBU’s build-up to the season included a practice match at home on March 5 against St Albans.

The Cats were on home turf for last Friday’s showdown with Tongala and head to Cohuna on March 26 to play the Kangas.

LBU goes in to a new year without Tom Holman who has joined Kyabram, but has Cheatley medallist Tyler Phillips in the ruck; Jarod Bacon who led the goalkicking on 36 last season; and the consistent Bart Phillips.

The Cats have signed Riley McIvor, a premiership-winning player with Eaglehawk, and also have Charlie Hinks back from Macorna.

Key players in LBU’s attack include Thomas Leech, Lachlan Collins and James McPhee.

LBU’s season starts on April 9 against White Hills in the Demons’ den at Scott Street.


One of the most active clubs on the recruiting front was Mount Pleasant.

The Darren Walsh and Adam Baird-coached Blues finished fifth on a 7-5 record last season.

A huge coup for the Blues was the signing of gun ruckman Chris Down from Sandhurst.

Mounts’ on-ballers Adam Baird and Billy Mahony will be aiming to capitalise on Down’s tapwork at centre ball-ups and boundary throw-ins.

Newcomers to the Mounts line-up include Zane Keighran from Golden Square, versatile big man Dean Tyrell from Pascoe Vale, along with Zac Featherby, Reardon McIvor and Will Wallace.

The Blues’ best in 2021 were Liam Collins and Bryce Hinneberg.

Playing assistant coach Travis Baird brings plenty of experience from premiership wins with Golden Square and can be a danger in defence or attack.

Ben Weightman kicked 40 goals to be runner-up for the league goalkicking last year and Rhys Deacon booted 25 goals in just five games.

The Blues will be without Daniel Davie who has joined Gisborne.

Mounts played at Moama on March 5 and this Saturday will take on South Bendigo and Lake Boga at Epsom.


Second in the 2021 season on a 9-3 record, Colbinabbin faces North Bendigo at M.J. Morgan Reserve on April 9.

Both clubs have been busy strengthening many positions to again challenge LBU.

Pre-season hit-outs for Colbinabbin began against Wycheproof Narraport at Epsom on March 4.

The Grasshoppers are home on March 18 to tackle Marong.

Recruits to the Julian Bull-coached Grasshoppers squad include Nathan Angelino, James Brain, Tim Holobowski, Will Lowe, Jasper McArdle, Jimmy McMurtrie, and Luke Moore.

Ruckman or key forward, Lochlan Sirett has headed back to Birchip Watchem.

Key players for Colbo in 2021 included Jed Brain who kicked 25 goals and won the club best and fairest.

Ben Southam, Hadleigh Sirett, Todd Clarke, Nick Knight and Stephen Tuohey are all key playmakers for Colbo.


A dual premiership coach and multiple winner of the Steven Bennett Memorial trophy as club champion, Robert Bennett returns to coach North Bendigo.

The Bulldogs have retained the a “core group” of premiership winners such as Jordan Ford, Aarryn Craig, Ryan Alford, Brodie Thomson, Shane Harris and Tim Deveraux.

Key recruits for the Bulldogs include Beau Cross from Sandhurst, Jesse Evans, Matt Gray, Sean Moyle, Nathan Newlan, Marcus Rogers, Callum Tardrew, and Nic Waterson.

A strong attack in 2021 was led by Dylan Klemm, 34 goals; Shane Harris, 28; and captain and Steven Bennett Memorial award winner Aarryn Craig, 19 goals.

Off-field, Bennett will be assisted by Josh Gitsham, a dual winner of the Sam Cheatley Medal as the HDFNL’s fairest and best, and Daniel Francis.

North Bendigo had a practice match against Wedderburn on March 18 at Epsom, and will have an intra-club game on March 25 at a venue to be confirmed.

After a 9-4 record and fourth place last year, White Hills will be determined to stay in the league’s top bracket.


The Demons best and fairest of 2021, Jack Fallon takes on the senior coaching role after the departure of former Adelaide Crow and Carlton player Sam Kerridge to Alexandra.

A premiership-winning player with Eaglehawk, Fallon played a key role in the Demons’ run last season.

He will be assisted by Brady Childs who has transferred from another group of Demons at Calivil United to be where his footy career kicked off with White Hills juniors.

Childs brings a wealth of experience from his time coaching South Bendigo and also playing in the 2014 premiership for Shepparton Swans in the Goulburn Valley.

The Demons take on Lockington Bamawm United on April 9.

Among the many challenges for Fallon and the Demons coaching staff will be developing a new attack after the departure of Jed Lamb, 58 goals, and Zeke Lamb as both have joined Warragul.

Demons’ captain Mitch Dole kicked 23 goals last season and his smarts near goal will trouble all defences.

Recruits at White Hills include Brayden Aitken from Maiden Gully YCW and Mitch Curtis.

The play of Rhys Irwin, Gavin and Rohan Bowles, David and Hayden Wright, Tate Mifka and Jake Dickens will be crucial to the Demons aspirations.


There have been plenty of changes to the Stacy Fiske-coached Huntly squad which had a 5-8 record last season.

Departures from Strauch Reserve include Ryan and Luke Semmel, Chris Gleeson and Josh Harris to Stanhope; Jack Daley, Jacob Greenwood, Phil Ryan and Blayne Ryan-Storey are among a group from Huntly bound for Calivil United; and Jake Semmel has joined Murrumbeena.

Newcomers for the brown and gold include Orion Downing from Bears Lagoon-Serpentine, Maiden Gully YCW Eagles’ Tori Ferguson and Travis Mercadante.

Also signed with Huntly are Aidan Baldwin, Marcus Dunstone, Nathan Grace, Sam Keneally, Eathan Oaten, Jett Patullo and Jett Rowell.

The Hawks kick off their campaign at Heathcote’s Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve on April 9.

A key for Huntly will be the play of Flynn Campbell who kicked 14 goals in just four games last season.

Other players to watch for the Hawks include Jay McDonald, Tyler Miles, Jaydon Cowling, Brad Chalmers and Connor Aldous.


It’s a new-look coaching panel for Elmore as Dylan Friedberger begins a second season in charge and has classy key forward/ruckman Dylan Gordon as co-coach.

The Bloods’ pre-season included a home game against Stanhope on March 4, and then back at Elmore Recreation Reserve on March 18 to tackle Bridgewater.

Elmore’s first game in the HDFNL season is on April 9 against Mount Pleasant.

The Bloods had a 3-9 record last season as Gordon, Nick Kellow, Mitch Cricelli, Dylan Oaff regularly featured in the best.

Elmore without HDFNL Rising Star award winner Mitch Cricelli who has joined the Rochester Tigers.

The Bloods recruits include Ryan Murphy, Che Taranto, Mitchell Carson, Bailey Sawyer, Kyle Armstrong and Shaun Haffenden.

The club also welcomes back Darcy Laffy from Benalla, and has picked up North Heidelberg’s Brayden Perichon.

It was a tough run for Heathcote in 2021 as the Saints finished with a 2-11 record.


The Saints have welcomed the return of Andrew Saladino back to the area where he grew up to be senior coach.

Saladino played under-16s and 18s for Heathcote and played his first senior game for the Saints as a 16-year-old.

Among the highs of his footy career were HDFNL inter-league representative when he was 17 and playing in the grand final team of 2008.

Saladino played for the Bendigo Pioneers in the TAC Cup under-18s competition across 2006 to 2008 and went on to captain clubs and play representative football in the Eastern District and Riddell District leagues.

In recent years Saladino was midfield coach for Wallan.

He takes charge at Heathcote and will have the classy Codie Price as playing assistant coach.

Saladino’s first game as Heathcote coach will be on North Bendigo’s turf at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street.

Recruits at the Saints include Jackson Conforti back from Kyneton, Shaun Harrison from Deer Park, and Wallan clubmates Liam Birch, Bill Direen and Connor Hamilton.

Heathcote’s attack is bolstered by the arrival of Brayden Padmore who kicked 42 goals in nine games and won the best and fairest at Moonee Valley last season.

Other key players for the Saints include last season’s club champion Billy Price, best and fairest runner-up Tom Pain, and Jordan and Kai Cavallaro.


After a winless run in 2021, Leitchville Gunbower will be determined to mark some victories this year.

The Bombers have appointed Tim Bannan as coach after recent stints with Riddell and Gisborne.

Bannan brings a wealth of experience from football and cricket as a player and coach.

The assistant coaches are Ayden Walton and Nathan McLellan who had a superb first year in defence for LG.

The Bombers build-up rolls on a practise match last weekend against against Riddell at Leitchville and then on March 26 against Boort at Pyramid Hill’s Mitchell Park.

Recruits at Leitchville-Gunbower include Tom Guerra from Koondrook Barham, Echuca’s Leyton Shenfield, and Strathmerton’s Sam Lewis.

Also joining the line-up is Blake Azzopardi, and Liam Keath has returned to the red, yellow and black.

Last season’s best and fairest winner, Tom Brereton will again play a key role for the Bombers who have the bye on April 9 and then play at Huntly on April 16.


Written by Nathan Dole.