Off-Season Central | HDFNL & LVFNL FOOTBALL

Plenty of moves made in footy circles

THERE have been plenty of footy recruiting coups by clubs in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL and Loddon Valley FNL as they build-up for the 2023 season.

One of the most active on the recruiting scene is White Hills.

After a fourth-placed finish this year, the Jack Fallon-coached Demons have been bolstered by the signings of Jake Pallpratt from Benalla Saints as assistant coach, and South Bendigo’s gun forward Kaiden Antonowicz.

After two seasons coaching the Saints, Pallpratt makes the move to the Demons’ den in Scott Street.

The recruitment of Antonowicz was a huge plus for White Hills and massive blow for the Bloods.

Recruited to South Bendigo from Shepparton Swans, Antonowicz first played for the red and white in the 2015 season.

A highlight was 76 goals in 2018 to earn the Ron Best Medal as the Bendigo FNL’s leading goalkicker.

A crafty forward at ground level and strong mark for his size, Antonowicz played a mix of midfield and forward last season where he kicked 44 goals in 19 matches.

Another key signing for White Hills was on-baller Tom Brereton who returns to the den from South Bendigo.

Restricted by injury in ’22, a fully-fit Brereton bolsters a midfield and on-ball line-up that includes Patrick Eefting and Brady Childs.

Other key re-signings for the red and black include Liam Bartels, Mitch Dole, Bayden Fallon, and captain and ’22 club champion Rhys Irwin.


Huntly will have joint coaches in Harry Whittle and Jayden Cordy.

A Harding medallist in 2021, Whittle is back in the brown and gold after a two-year stint with Newbridge in the Loddon Valley competition.

Desperate to climb the ladder after being eighth last season, Huntly has signed Brodie and Jackson Fry and Lachlan Wilson from Kangaroo Flat.

The Hawks will also welcome key position player Ryan Burt from Newbridge.

Lockington Bamawm United’s quest for back-to-back senior premierships will be led by Stacy Fiske as playing coach.

Fiske has plenty of coaching experience to draw on.

His first stint at Huntly from 2012 to ’14 included being runner-up to LBU in 2013.

He took charge of the Hawks from midway through the 2019 season.


Premiership-winning coach, Brodie Collins will play on at LBU.

The Cats have bolstered their attack with the signing of Max Johnson from Kangaroo Flat.

Key players for LBU include ruckman and dual Sam Cheatley medallist Tyler Phillips, Trent Bacon, Lachlan Atherton, Jesse Collins, Fraser Monahan, Joe Wolfe and Riley McIvor.

Runner-up in 2022, Mount Pleasant has made a change to its coaching structure after the partnership of Darren Walsh and Adam Baird the past two seasons.

A brilliant on-baller and forward who won a Michelsen Medal when at Golden Square, Baird takes charge as senior coach as Walsh tackles a new role as director of coaching.

A key recruit for the Blues is classy small forward/mid Mitch Rovers from Kangaroo Flat.

Re-signings at the Blues include ruckman Chris Down, gun forward Ben Weightman, defenders Bryce Hinneberg and William Wallace, and Zane Keighran.


It’s a new look at Colbinabbin as Jed Brain steps up to senior coaching.

The Julian Bull-coached Grasshoppers were beaten in this year’s preliminary final by LBU.

In a five-year stint at Colbinabbin, Bull led the club to the 2019 grand final.

Leitchville-Gunbower has appointed Shannon Keam as senior coach.

Keam’s coaching run includes stints with Dimboola, Robinvale, Moama and Cohuna Kangas.

A highlight was leading Moama to its Murray League premiership in 2010.

Key players for the young Bombers squad in 2022 were ruckman Jobee Warde, key defender Nathan McLellan, Billy Hawken, and rising star Fletcher Ball.

Seventh in 2022 on a 3-13 record, Elmore has Dylan Friedberger staying on as senior coach.

This year it was Friedberger and star ruckman/forward Dylan Gordon who were joint coaches.


The big improver in ’22, Heathcote will again have Andrew Saladino in charge.

The Saints marked a win-loss record of 7-9 to be sixth.

Among the recruits headed to Barrack Reserve is gun forward Corey Grindlay from Wallan.

A tally of 68 goals was capped by being named in the Riddell League’s team of the year once again.

The Saints also welcome back the classy Liam Jacques after stints at Golden Square and Bridgewater.

Captain of Wallan’s under-18s premiership team in ’22, Callum Birch moves to Heathcote to team up with older brother, Liam.

Re-signings at the Saints include the classy Braden Padmore, runner-up for this year’s Cheatley Medal, along with Codie and Billy Price, Tom Pain, Kai Cavallaro and Connor Hamilton.


One of the most active clubs on the recruiting scene is North Bendigo.

Dual premiership coach Robert Bennett is busy bolstering a line-up that was beaten by White Hills in the elimination final.

A triple premiership player with Strathfieldsaye Storm, Jake Hall makes his way to the kennel in Atkins Street.

Hall’s athleticism and versatility will be a huge plus for the Bulldogs.

The club also welcomes back tough on-baller Ben Knight.

Billy Robertson makes the move from Sandhurst back to a club where his family’s links stretch back many years.

New signings include Pat Bogers who previously played for Calivil United and Boort; Lachlan Furness from South Bendigo; and Layton Ross from Sandhurst.


In the Loddon Valley, Jay McDonald is the new senior coach at Maiden Gully YCW Eagles following the stint of Wayne Mitrovic.

McDonald makes the the move to the nest to play in defence or midfield.

The Eagles have also signed Tyler Miles, a team-mate of McDonald’s at Huntly, and a premiership-winner with Eaglehawk.

Both are key signings for an Eagles line-up which finished sixth on a 5-11 tally after a slow start to the season.

Five years after he led Calivil United to premiership glory, Anthony Dennis will be back to coach the Demons.

After a 2-14 run in 2022, Calivil United will be looking to Dennis to ignite a new era for the red and blue.

He has spent the fast four seasons coaching Tongala in the Murray league.


Written by Nathan Dole.


Photo Courtesy – SAA Imaging & Bendigo Advertiser