In the third of a series of articles on SA Community Football in 2021, Peter Argent looks a number of the key appointments and players arriving in the North Eastern, Northern Areas and Spencer Gulf competitions.
One of the great characters in SA country football, ruckman Nick Pearce (pictured above) is returning to the home of his youth this year as playing coach of the Southern Flinders Tigers in the Northern Areas competition.
“I was born and raised in Laura, with Mum and Dad, David and Jacinta running the North Laura pub,” Pearce told SANFL.
“From about the age of 10 to 16 we had another pub in Crystal Brook. Dad was still playing and coaching at the Laura-Wirrabara Peckers when I was a young lad.
“So it’s nice to come back and help resurrect the club and the ultimate goal is to take the club all the way back to the top.
“They are naturally a tough and hard-working group and it’s about setting up the structures and game plan.”
Pearce, aged 30, started his senior footy at the Tantanoola Tigers, played a handful of league games at Sturt Football Club, four years at North Clare and was a best and fairest at Murray Bridge Ramblers, among a host of accolades.
In season 2021, he has on-baller Scott Galbraith coming from Kilburn, former Loxton North key utility and Lockeys player Cody Voumard, Central Yorke Cougar Jackson Bruce and Norwood under 18 talent Jed Nettle wearing the black and gold.
Tyson Amey is returning from Port Pirie and his father, Mark, affectionately known as “Ted”, is Pearce’s assistant and bench coach. Jaren Turner, Ziek Kay and Shaun Jarrad also return to the fray.
Nick Hewett, the oldest of the four Hewett brothers, is looking to continued his winning record at the Broughton Mundoora Eagles, aiming for a three-peat in his third year in charge.
Mitchell Bowley returns home from Mypolonga Tigers after a knee reconstruction at the end of 2019, while another new face is ex-South Adelaide player Bryce Damin.
Peterborough-Jamestown’s Chris Stacey is returning to his foundation club to coach in 2021.
The Magpies did not play in 2020 and Stacey is charged with the job of rebuilding the club.
At the most successful club in the league, Crystal Brook, Luke Seymour is senior coach, with key forward Darren Shillabeer as his playing assistant. Linkman Brayden Kirk is a local lad returning from North Adelaide after SANFL State League experience.
Orroroo Roos club legend and dual Mail Medallist Matt Dignan returns for a second season after takes the Roos to a grand final in 2020.
Patrick McCarthy, ex-Sacred Heart Old Collegians (SHOC), Glenelg and Carlton listed key position player, fellow ex-SHOC mid-fielder Matt Delmenico and Lucas Fielding are all new recruits at the Roos this season.
Meanwhile at Booleroo Melrose Wilmington (BMW), Alek Kangur, the 2020 Mail medallist in the NAFA, will play his second season, having come across from the Yorke Peninsula to coach the Lions.
A successful player and leader with the Nuriootpa Tigers, Chris Gerhardy has taken charge of the Mintaro-Manoora Eagles in the neighbouring North Eastern competition for 2021.
After a highly successful playing career with the Tigers and for a couple years the Murray Bridge Imperials, Gerhardy had a trio season in charge of the Central District under 16s team, including a short stint with the state underage program.
Gerhardy previously had been an assistant to Shawn Gibson at the Eagles, where he was enticed to don the boots again during that period.
He has secured the services of former State under 18s player Steve Rusca who returns to the Eagles after a couple of seasons at the Angaston Panthers.
West Adelaide 2015 Premiership captain and Jack Oatey Medallist Chris Schmidt, a Robertstown junior, will take on the playing coach role at the Southern Saints after originally being appointed in 2020. He will play alongside older brother Nick, a state country footballer and Mail Medallist for the first time.
After a successful tenure under the leadership of Liam Whitwell, which has included flags in three of the past four seasons, former Unley A-grade coach Kane Stewart comes to the Brinkworth Spalding Redhill (BSR) Tigers to take over a team still expected to be highly competitive and one of the favourites.
A school teacher from St Joseph’s in Clare, Tim Packer, who has coached at Mintaro-Manoora at underage level, is the new man in charge at the Blyth-Snowtown Cats.
Herb Glacken, noted for his old-school style and the man that took the CMS Crows to a Yorke Peninsula Football League title, with a young Bernie Vince playing in 2003, arrives at the Burra-Booborowie-Hallett Rams.
Former Tasmanian and Central District footballer Jackson O’Brien is in change at the North Clare Roosters for a second season, while clubman and a former umpire for a period Dion Giles has taken over from Scott Brand for North’s cross-town rivals, South Clare. The South Demons were bridesmaids in 2020.
In the Spencer Gulf League, both West and Central Augusta have new men in charge.
Strong and loyal club man Ben Russell has taken charge of the West Augusta Hawks, while indigenous talent and former Glenelg footballer Ian Milera will play for the Hawks.
At the Central Augusta Bloods, Ryan Struck takes over as the senior coach. A Madigan Medallist in 2010, Struck comes from successful bloodlines with dad Colin leading Central to success.
Ryan Struck previously coached South Augusta in a playing role and is a cross-code coaching talent, having coached junior basketball teams as well.
At the Prop-Risdon Lions, Matt Promnitz and Solomontown’s Damien “Joel” Head will continue head coaching roles again. Head is the former 500-game legend from Crystal Brook.
The Lions have also collected Cooper Stoll and Andrew Wright from Gawler Central.
Jamie Boles will be looking to take the highly successful South Augusta Bulldogs to a record six consecutive titles in the SGL this year.
At the famous Port Bulldogs in Port Pirie (whose previous coaches have included legends like Bob Hammond and Jimmy Deane), Chris Pollard will continue the role he started in the abridged 2020 season when he took over from current Norwood U16 Torrens University Cup coach Craig Roberts.