THERE’S been plenty of change as Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League clubs prepare for the 2024 footy season.

Six clubs have made coaching changes to what will be a nine-team competition following Kyneton’s move to the Riddell District FNL.

Biggest call made since the ’23 season ended was by the premiers, Golden Square.

The Bulldogs will now be coached by Brad Eaton instead of Christian Carter.

It’s a huge challenge for Eaton as the Bulldogs have also had almost half of their premiership-winning line-up leave the Wade Street kennel.

Among them is six-time premiership winner Jack Geary to take on senior coaching with Cohuna Kangas.

Also moving into senior coaching are Hamish Morcom at Huntly, and Jake Thrum at Irymple.

Key depatures include Joel Brett and Liam Duguid to Shepparton Bears; Liam Barrett as an assistant coach at Moama; Zavier Murley to Castlemaine; and Braydon Vaz to Harcourt.

After 213 senior matches and three premierships, ruckman Matt Compston has retired.

The Bulldogs welcome back Jordan Rosengren and Kyle Stevens from Wedderburn and Merbein respectively.

Another key recruit is Luke Holt from the Wedderburn Redbacks.

Although many stars have gone, Golden Square still has the likes of ’23 team champion Tom Toma, Ryan Hartley and Ricky Monti to play on-ball or midfield roles.

The Bulldogs also have the Burke brothers, Jayden and Harry; Jon Coe, Jack Hickman and Tom Strauch capable of having a major impact in next season’s run.

The club has re-appointed Paul Hamilton and Rowan Warfe as co-coaches of the under-18s.

It’s been a lucrative recruting spree for Sandhurst after being runner-up this season.

Jointly coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, playing, Sandhurst is likely to be a strong contender for the premiership.

After stints in the AFL with Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn, Fergus Greene knocked back offers from many metro clubs to return to the Dragons’ lair.

Greene will play a key role in an attack that includes Cobi Maxted and Lachlan Wright.

The Dragons have strengthened their defence through the signing of Matt Campbell from North Hobart, and Mount Pleasant premiership star William Wallace.

Another huge signing is Lachlan Tardrew who brings plenty of VFL experience from his time at Collingwood.

Tardrew will play in midfield and be an assistant coach for the Dragons.

A key departure is gun ruckman Hamish Hosking to Birchip-Watchem.

Michelsen medallist and premiership winner Lee Coghlan will return to where his footy journey began at Bridgewater.

Long-time key forward Matt Thornton and the classy Andy Collins who played at AFL level with Richmond and Carlton have retired.

At Strathfieldsaye, Luke Freeman steps up to senior coaching in the Bendigo FNL.

Freeman had coached Newbridge in the Loddon Valley and returned to Storm in ’23 where he was assistant to multiple premiership-winning coach Darryl Wilson.

It will be a new-look Storm as gun forward, Michelsen medallist and multiple premiership winner Lachlan Sharp will tackle a playing assistant coaching role at Bridgewater.

Another Michelsen medallist as league fairest and best in Jake Moorhead has signed on with Pascoe Vale.

Storm will also be without Cal McCarty who has crossed to South Adelaide.

Eaglehawk will again be led by Travis Matheson.

Key signings for the Hawks include Harcourt premiership winning ruckman Brayden Frost, and Jonty Neaves who starred in the Borough’s grand final win in 2018.

The Hawks go into next season without this year’s Michelsen medallist Noah Wheeler and classy small forward Lewin Davis who have signed with Banyule, and Dillon Williams who has returned to Rochester.

A shoulder injury brought an early end to the ’23 season for former St Kilda captain Jarryn Geary in his return to the Borough after a brilliant AFL career.

Geary has taken on a development and player leadership coaching role with Western Bulldogs.

Beaten by Eaglehawk in the elimination final, South Bendigo has appointed Steven Stroobants and Isaiah Miller as joint coaches.

They take charge following the reign of Nathan Horbury who has headed north to the Noosa Tigers.

A newcomer to the Bloods’ line-up will be Will Marks, a key forward from Birchip Watchem.

Will is the son of Deon Marks, full-back in the South Bendigo premiership teams of 1993 and ’94 which were coached by Peter Curran.

After a three-season stint with the Bloods, midfielder Oscar White is headed to Banyule.

Key players for South Bendigo include ruckman Mac Cameron, Zac Hare, Brock Harvey, Will Keck and Sam Langley.

After sliding from top spot in ’22 to the sixth rung, Gisborne is poised to make big strides.

Premiership-winning coach Rob Waters took charge in the last three rounds of a season in which Brad Fox’s run was hit by injuries to many key players.

A huge plus for the Bulldogs will be the return of gun forward Pat McKenna who played just two matches this season after breaking an ankle in the sixth round on Golden Square turf.

McKenna rejoins a squad that includes ruckman Braidon Blake, Flynn Lake, Jack Reaper, Brad Bernacki, Jed and Zac Denahy, Jack Scanlon, and Sam Graham.

A newcomer to Gardiner Reserve will be Jackson Cardillo, a midfielder/forward who has played VFL with Essendon, and also represented Rupertswood, and Calder Cannons.

Among the departures is ’22 premiership player Luke Ellings to Kangaroo Flat where his father, Michael is the club’s new senior coach.

It’s a senior coaching debut for Michael Ellings who racked up several years assistant coaching in Tasmania.

The Roos’ recruits include midfielder Jake Lefroy who played six matches for Carlton last VFL season.

The club also welcomes Michael Ross from Avondale Heights, and Justin Bateson who brings his experience from Wycheproof and Eaglehawk to Dower Park.

Departures include Mitch Collins to coach Charlton, and Ryan O’Keefe and Mitch Trewhella to the Rochester Tigers.

Castlemaine marked a coup by signing Michael Hartley as playing coach.

A key position player, Hartley brings 49 games of AFL experience with Essendon and Hawthorn to the role.

The Magpies have regained Kalan Huntly and Darby Semmens after both played crucial roles in Harcourt’s unbeaten run to the Maryborough Castlemaine DFNL senior premiership in ’23.

Another premiership winner in Zavier Murley makes his way to the Magpies from Golden Square.

The league’s other mischief of Magpies in Maryborough will have Coby Perry and Matt Johnston as co-coaches next season.

A young squad will keep working hard to improve every round.

Key players for Maryborough include midfielder Joel Swatton who marked his first season at the club by earning the Geoff Macilwain medal as fairest and best.

Talented defender Kya Lanfranchi will tackle an important role as under-18s coach.

The Magpies’ squad includes ruckman Ty Stewart, Josh Britten, Darcy Bond and Nic Swan.

The classy Jacob Lohmann has re-signed with Maryborough, but is also with VFL club Sandringham.