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Regional Community Football Previews - Part 1

In the first of a series by Peter Argent, we look at how regional leagues are shaping up for the start of their 2022 seasons.

Across regional Community Football in SA, four leagues enter their 2022 campaigns this weekend, coinciding with the opening round of the Hostplus SANFL League.

Saturday, April 2 is the starting date for the Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Association (BLG), Yorke Peninsula Football League (YPFL), Western Border (WB) Football League and Mid South East (MSE) competition.

The River Murray Football League has already kicked off with two opening round games on March 26.

Barossa Light Gawler

In the BLG, four new coaches are engaged in 2022. Coming across to Freeling after success at Kersbrook is former Port Adelaide Magpies key forward Jono Ross, as well as Nick Hales from Port Districts and Aaron Killian. Also making the return to the Redlegs is Joel Cochrane.

Meanwhile at fellow “Light District” club Kapunda, seven-time Central District premiership ruckman Jason “Buckets” MacKenzie is in charge, with the lightning fast Joey Brown returning from the SANFL.

There has been plenty of movement at the BLG Magpies, with key locals Darcy Hamon and Luke Snowden taking a year off and former Schluter Medalist Riley “Fleecy” McPharline and goal kicker Josh Trembath moving down to the Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football League.

Henry Voigt, dual Magarey Medalist Zane Kirkwood and John Greenslade will ensure that Sam Colquhoun’s Magpies are still a premiership contender.

Willaston and coach Andrew Jarman, on the back of the devastation of a grand final loss after leading by 56 points during the second quarter, have lost Schluter Medalist Harry Elbrow and, for the majority of the season, Isaya McKenzie to SANFL Crows ranks, but have recruited former Carlton, Glenelg and North Adelaide talent Rhys O’Keefe from Kilburn.

Port Adelaide big man Luke Surman is also on the Donnybrooks books.

Angaston’s premier recruit is Jackson Murphy – the youngest SA Country cricketer and footballer – while another Paskeville talent, Nick Gregurke, will be a marquee player at the Nuriootpa Rovers.

Looking for back-to-back titles for the first time since Malcom McGrath led the Lions of 92-93, Gavin Chaplin has lost veteran Kane Officer to retirement, while young ruckman and “Barracker Rookie of the Year” in 2021 Lachlan Arnold is now at the Ponderosa.

Football journeyman Chad O’Sullivan is in charge at Gawler Central for the first time, with Brett Kennedy recruited from the SANFL Bulldogs.

Aaron Killian, now with Freeling.

Yorke Peninsula

Across on the leg, ’21 Yorke Peninsula Football League premiers the CMS Crows will have most of their same key personnel as last year.

Jake Cook returns to the YP Crows, while Ben Edwards, who played at Port Adelaide last year, is with CMS full time in 2022.

A player with plenty of footy acumen, Jos Builder, will play a role as key defender/swing man after doing a pre-season at Sturt.

The 2019 champions, the Southern Eagles coached by Mark Tilbrook, have welcomed back flag-winning goal sneak Scott Mumford and ruckman Matt Taylor.

Three former juniors, 150-game dual Eagles SANFL premiership player Angus Poole, key position player Jake Von bertouch and defender Jack Elsworthy have returned to the Kadina Bloodhounds in Rian Nelson’s second year in charge.

The CY Cougars are celebrating their 25th year since the amalgamation of Arthurton and Maitland clubs, with Luke Trenorden coaching for a second season.

Southern Eagles’ Scott Mumford flies high.

Western Border

In the Western Border League, which includes Victorian club Casterton-Sandford, reigning premiers Millicent will be led by dual flag-winning coach (2018 and 2021) Clint Gallio, who also won the Brian Hennessy Medal last year as the competition’s best and fairest player.

Key recruits include former AFL listed on baller Tom Hutchesson, returning from the GWS Giants,

Former Hatherleigh ruckman Sam Waring and Dylan Bromley, a returning premiership player who played for Port MacDonnell last year.

The North Gambier Tigers have first year non-playing coach Ben Hardy in charge.

A key forward who produced a four-goal best on ground effort in last year’s grand final, Cameron Ortlepp arrives at the Tigers from Adelaide Footy League division two club Old Ignatians.

Other new Tigers to keep an eye on include Mitch Kelton, Brett Kennedy, Toby McAlister, Will Thompson and Dale Bachmann.

Darron McElroy comes across from Port MacDonnell after winning the 2021 flag with the West Gambier Roos as playing coach and leading the ruck division.

At the East Gambier Bulldogs, coach Matt Scanlon takes over as a joint coach from Matt Wilson, sharing the role with Jayden Eldridge.

Small forward Garret Ha has come across from Mid South East club Tantanoola.

The 2021 grand finalists South Gambier Demons have coach Brayden Kain in charge for a second year.

Josh Woodall, an in-and-under midfielder who played league footy at Glenelg and is originally from Dartmoor, also has arrived. He had been the skipper of the Jervios Bluds in 20-21.

Formerly at Sturt in the SANFL and Angaston in the BLG, defender James Paprotny returns to Western Border footy.

Across the border at the Casterton-Sandford Cats, local identity Kane Forbes is in charge for a second year.

Kalangadoo premiership player Billy Galpin is returning home to the Cats, while Ed Pritchard, Alistair Bright and Jesse Walker-Gould are new faces.

Millicent’s Dylan Bromley playing in the SA Country Championships.

Mid South East

In the MSE, at the Robe Roosters Tom Wachtel is in charge on the coaching side, with Tom Williams as captain and former state country rover Jack Kelly as his deputy.

Port MacDonnell is the reigning premier, with title-winning coach Simon Merrett continuing in that role at the Demons.

At the Kalangadoo Magpies, former Casterton Cat Kevin Stark is in charge again, grabbing a plethora of new and returning talent, among them Pat Davies, an accomplished league footballer at North Adelaide, and his brother, Matt.

Jaggs Pratt is back in the black and white after a couple of seasons at Learmonth in Victoria and Ethan Maney is coming down from Darwin after playing with Southern Districts.

Brad Auld is a new recruit after two years of injuries, while tall Braiden Ousey, who has been in Denmark, is an addition to the club’s big-men department. Kalangadoo has also picked up Tom Schumacher from Echunga.

The uniquely named Glencoe Murphy’s have Tom Edwards as senior coach. A club junior, Tom spent two years at North Gambier in 2016 and 2017, being a member of the premiership side in 2016.

The Hatherleigh Eagles has signed a ruckman from Benalla, Mark Marriott, who played for Cobden in 2021, where he won the club’s best and fairest.

At the Mount Burr Mozzies, Reece Duncan is in his second year in charge, originally appointed in the 2020 season that didn’t go ahead.

Competition cellar dwellers the Nangwarry Saints will be led Luke Thompson.

Will Whitty is in charge at the Kongarong Hawks and calling the shots at the Tantanoola Tigers is Jak Ryan.


Reigning premiership coach Scott Merrett, pictured here at the SA Country Championships, still leads Port MacDonnell.

River Murray

Dual Sturt premiership defender and North Melbourne footballer Scott McMahon continues in charge at Imperials in the River Murray competition, while the leading goal kicker in community football in 2021, Johnny Boras, is still a huge target in attack.

After being members of Mypolonga Tigers flags in 2019, Ben Gogel and Clint Diment are donning the Double Blues RMFL jumper this year.

The Meningie Bears, who started with a win last week, have Adam Moller as coach and have secured the services of Indigenous talent Brad Hartman, who played a handful of AFL games with Geelong.

Reigning premiers the Jervois Bluds will be hunting a third successive title under the guidance of the “Human Helicopter” Taite Silverlock.

Josh Scott has proved to be a great option in attack, while the club has also acquired the services of former Tailem Bend leader Ben Hansen and his brother, McKenzie.

Robbie Young, a 2018 premiership player at the SANFL Roosters, is a marquee recruit at the Tailem Eagles, where Corey Smelt is in charge.

Ramblers have a new coach this year in Mark Thurston and are expected to blood a number of their juniors in the club in ’22.

Mannum Roos’ Blake Tabe won the competition’s top individual honour last year and was best player in the six-point season opening win over Mypolonga, but has been training with Sturt all pre-season. Ben Quinn is again in charge of the Roos this year.

At the Tigers, Matt Lindner continued in charge. He has the services of Jack Kluske from Glenelg, David Giles from amateur league ranks and Stephen Mills, who spent time in Woodville-West Torrens program. Jack Wilkins also arrives at the River Murray Tigers, coming across from the Yorke Peninsula club, the Bute Roosters.

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