Community Football Preview – Part 5

In the fifth of a series of articles on SA Community Football in 2021, PETER ARGENT looks at a number of the key appointments and players arriving in the Broken Hill, Mallee and both Riverland competitions.

Riverland Football League

In the Riverland Football League competition, returning after a hiatus in 2020, the Loxton North Panthers have long-term club stalwart Brett Tschirpig in charge, while cross-town rivals the Loxton Tigers are being coached this year by Dillon Millard, a former Barmera Monash player.

Millard is endeavouring to resurrect the Tigers after they enjoyed just one win in 2019 and he’s certainly on the right track with three wins already banked in 2021.

After spending time traveling down to coach the Barossa District Bulldogs in 2020, Shayne Stevens is back home this year, in charge of the Waikerie Magpies.  His brother, a state country and SANFL league footballer, Damian Stevens, is looking after the reserves.

Stevens took Waikerie to a trio of flags from 2016 and they have started promisingly with a 2-1 win-loss record.

At the Berri Demons, former West Adelaide reserves footballer Brian Gates is in charge with local Berri sporting legend and state country cricketer Paul “Dougie” Stewart as his assistant.

The Barmera Monash Roos, in their 101st season (after missing their centenary year), have Corey Gilgen in their senior role. He has a huge family heritage at the Riverland Roos.

Josh Vater, a former Central District footballer and triple premiership player with his foundation club, the RSMU Hawks in the North Eastern Football League, is the man in charge of the Renmark Rovers.

He has spent time under the tutelage of Roy Laird in his days at the Ponderosa and had Zack Hier as his premiership coach at Riverton-Saddleworth-Marrabel United.

Vater has used these resources and football knowledge well. The Rovers took out the previous Riverland Football League flag in 2019 under Vater’s leadership as player and coach, winning the decider against Waikerie by 18 points.

Like the Magpies, the Rovers have started brightly with a 2-1 win-loss record.

Former Central District player Josh Vater has the Renmark Rovers with a 2-1 win-loss record early in the season. Picture – Peter Argent

Riverland Independent League

In the neighbouring Riverland Independent League (RIL), the Brown’s Well Bombers are being coached by Brian Hampel, while across at the Sedan Cambrai Magpies, Chris Eaton is in charge.

Eaten coached the Magpies to the previous flag in 2019, in a dominant season where they lost one minor round match and won the Grand Final by over 10 goals.

The BSR Redbacks have Paul Thomas as their A grade coach while at the Ramco Roosters, Jamie O’Callaghan is in the top job.

For the Paringa Swans, this season they have Peter Siddal as their senior coach and the Wunkar Bulldogs’ boss is Tom Wood.

The Cobdogla Eagles has employed Nick Dillon is its A-grade mentor.

Dillion is a former Paringa premiership coach while new Bulldogs coach Wood played in flags for the Swans.

This year, the Riverland Independent League will played as a 16-a-side competition.

Mallee Football League

In the six-team Mallee Football League, just over the border at Murrayville, big Tom Probyn is in charge.

Matthew Dent – of Sturt, Fitzroy, the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and Edwardstown (as a coach) fame – has moved across after success at the BDT Crows to their rivals, the Lameroo Hawks.

Ex-Sturt and Eagles SANFL league footballer Adam Klun, who was a Mail Medallist at Onkaparinga Valley in the Hills, is in his first year at the Peake and Districts Football Club.

Drafted by Melbourne out the SA underage programs, and a league footballer at Glenelg and Sturt, 26 year-old Nathan Stark is in the role as senior coach at the BDT Crows.

He played SA state country Zone Representative football in the Riverland back in 2018.

Former Loxton lad and West Adelaide junior Nathan Brown has the task of returning the Karoonda Magpies to their glory days.

At the Pinnaroo SupaRoos, Nick Hyde is in charge.

Bridesmaids in 2019, despite being the best team across the breadth of the campaign, they lost the decider to the Crows by nine points and will be keen to take that final step this season.

And this quest is on the right track considering the Roos remain unbeaten after the opening four rounds.


Nathan Stark, in action for Eastern at the Country Championships, has taken control of the BDT Crows. Picture – Peter Argent

Broken Hill Football League

Up in the four-team Broken Hill Competition, the North Bulldogs have highly-decorated 300-game player and first-year coach Brett Johnson in charge this season.

Johnson has introduced a number of junior players to senior footy this year at the Doggies, who have started with a 2-3 win-loss record.

At the Central Magpies, Greg Wellington has the role of senior coach.

Having moved up the Silver City in the past couple of seasons, Wellington is an indigenous role model in the district.

At the South Roos, Darren “Boofa” Smith is the boss. He has coached for a number of years at junior level, being promoted to the senior gig this season.

Having inherited the best playing list in competition the Roos are the reigning premiers and have won last three BHFL flags (2017-18-19).  They have begun in ominous fashion with a 4-1 win-loss record.

At the West Broken Hill Robins, David Ruddock and Chris Jones are the joint coaches.

Ruddock’s credentials include three BHFL flags with North.

West Broken Hill has not won an A grade flag since 1990, but have recruited heavily and look in good shape with a 4-1 win-loss record to start the season.

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