Yarrawonga Football Netball Club begin their 2018 season this Sunday at the Lonsdale Recreation Ground in Mulwala.
The Ovens and Murray round one game will be played against the Albury Tigers, the Pigeons opponent in no less than six grand finals between 2009 and 2014.
The occasion of the day being Easter Sunday only enhances the build-up of both clubs in readiness for a memorable encounter. Neither side owes the other anything, so mild manners you would expect to apply for the majority of the game, but you would expect fireworks at different stages of the game.
The Pigeons will have a new look for the 2018 Season with some players retiring and others moving on.
Matt Gorman (knee), Jordy Daniels (foot) and Tom Wallis (work) will miss, Login Morey (2016 B&F) and Damon Hemphill are trying out at Essendon and Geelong respectively. Riley Welsh has an electrical apprenticeship in Melbourne, Rhys O’Sullivan has re-joined the Shepparton Bears and Justin Perkins has retired. These next four players are in the bracket of the finest to play for the Pigeons.
The club has had an incredible period from 2006 up to the end of season 2017, never missing finals, playing in seven grand finals, and three preliminary finals for three senior premierships.
In this same period the Reserves have won three premierships and the Thirds one flag. All the club’s grades of netball have won premierships in this period with A-grade playing in every final series since 1996 winning 8 premierships – which is some achievement!
The four players being former two time premiership player Drew Barnes, 167 games, he is going to his former club Nathalia to play with his brothers. Former captain 2006 premiership player, Morris Medallist, two time club best and fairest and leading all time YFNC goal kicker with 394 Tim Hargreaves retiring a 42 year old body. Then we have the boy from Strathmerton Marcus McMillian, with three premierships, club best and fairest, three times (2010-12) best in finals, representative O&M ten times and representative of VCFL, played centre half forward and back, kicked 337 which is fourth on the list and played 212 games.
The other player not available, but we hope his commitments may ease after the birth of Alice and Tim’s first child in the next couple of weeks, and of course the crops have to be sown. Tim Cooper played 132 games, won the 2010 best and fairest, played in two premierships, represented the O&M on eight occasions and many would agree he has the ability to lose opponents at will, with a side step which left many floundering, like the ‘Little Master’ he had the rare ability to win the hard ball in the heavy traffic and be on his way.
These four players; Barnes, Hargreaves, McMillian and Cooper all had one common trait, they wanted the hard ball and refused to be beaten in all contests – absolute ‘champions’. The retirement of two time premiership coach Chris Kennedy at the end of the 2017 season has to be applauded. His effort along with co-coach Barnes needs to be held in the highest level at the YFNC headquarters. The success of the club in this period has a great deal to do with the input of these two. Chris never left you wondering as to what he wanted to achieve and our club was the winner. We are indebted to his commitment and compassion and that of his family.
The Pigeons of 2018 will again be captained by three time premiership player, Morris Medallist and O&M representative Tyler Bonat, who is himself working back to his full fitness after his nasty accident last year.
Tyler will be assisted by another stalwart in three time premiership player, Morris Medallist, two time club B&F and soon to be club games record holder Xavier Leslie.
Last year’s club B&F Mark Whiley is assistant coach to Damian Sexton a former club champion rover and 1989 premiership player. These two guys are doing a tremendous job to date and also receiving great assistance from their official helpers.
Harry Wheeler, from Seymour FC is an addition to the on ball brigade. He won the B&F last season and will be a great fit with the Pigeons.
Mitch Collins-Bye has come back to the Pigeons from Rennie FC, Ryan Bruce and Isaac McMillian will be able to play full seasons with the Pigeons after completing Bushranger duties. James Elliot, Jordy Urquhart and Jayden Gallagher are shaping up for big seasons and Matt Casey had to get the ‘footy feel’ in his hands after having a breakout cricket season.
There will be many lads who will get the opportunity to be senior players this season, boys that played thirds last year will be playing many games at 2pm this year. The boys mentioned in the above are 17-18 year olds, and these lads along with the likes of Brooks, Smith, Fraunfelder, Conway, Jordon, Lawrence, Lonergan, Mickelson, O’Dwyer, Sharp, Sexton, Pearn, Gorman, Norman, Vodusek, Hargreaves, Machonache will all get the opportunity to excel. All aged between 17-20 this gives everyone that follows the Pigeons great optimism for the future!
Get on Board for 2018 – Go Pigeons!!