By Peter Argent
In the fourth and final SA Community Football preview, we look at the competitions happening south of Adelaide, the Southern and Great Southern Football Leagues, along with both Hills Division One and Hills Country Division.
We also explore the expansive Korwee-Naracoorte-Tatiara league, travel north to the Mallee, the two Riverland leagues and the Far North competition at Roxby Downs.
In the Great Southern competition, Mitchell Portlock continues with the reigning premiers, the Willunga Demons, after they extinguished a 12-year drought in 2021.
Across at the Strathalbyn Roosters, Simon Munn in in charge, while former South Adelaide player Curtis Perry has taken over from James Sellar at the Langhorne Creek Hawks.
Local lad Michael James is in change at Yankalilla, who have former SANFL footballers John Hinge and Joel Kay amongst their ranks.
Victor Harbor has a strong junior focus under the leadership of Damien Cross. A former club junior Jesse McKinnon has returned from SANFL club South Adelaide.
Perhaps the biggest recruit to Great Southern football this year has been Jake Tarca, secured by his junior club, Encounter Bay Eagles.
The small forward was drafted by Geelong with pick 68 in 2018.
The Eagles are being coached by successful Southern Districts Zone coach Scott Wendelborn, who has played in a variety of clubs around the state and played in the last Australian Country Football Championships in 2012.
Expected to be big improvers, the Myponga Mudlarks have been strong in the recruiting area as well.
Led by Levi Proude, they have brought in Rod Mitchell from Happy Valley, Ahmat Watkins, Elliott Chalmers from North Adelaide, the Kennedy siblings, Sam and Ben, along with Connor Sampson from South Adelaide.
Gianni Petrucci is still the boss at the McLaren Eagles (the amalgamation of the McLaren Flat Eagles and the McLaren Vale Crushers in 1998), with the experienced Tarak Redigolo and Brett Ellis leading the way.
At Mount Compass, former South Adelaide Panther Nick Manhood is the new man in charge.
In the Southern Football League Flagstaff Hill, currently being coached by Russell Van Veldt, is looking for a seventh consecutive title. Among the ranks is Mitchell Johnson and former Crows top up player Sam Tharaldsen.
Having been in the coaching ranks at North and South Adelaide, along with playing at Glenelg, Michael Handby is the new off-field leader of the Morphett Vale Emus.
Robert Schindler-Taylor has joined the club from amateur ranks, while Anthony Biemans also arrived as the Emus from Port and South Adelaide.
The famous Reynella Wineflies are coached by Craig Austin, with Robert Irra as the reigning association Medallist. They have gained the services of ruckman Marc Borholm from Angaston and also have the 2021 Under 21 Country Zone Championships best player Bailey Marshman. Big man Cameron McGree also arrives from the Panthers.
The young Aldinga Sharks squad is developing, with talent Tex Dowdell among this up-and-coming group which will push teams over the 2022 campaign.
Ray O’Donnell is steering the ship at the Cove Cobras and a number of personnel have returned.
At the Christies Beach Saints, the home of the AFL’s number one draft selection in 2021, Jason Horne-Francis, Brett Thompson is in charge.
At the Happy Valley Vikings, the foundation club of former Adelaide Crow and current Essendon senior coach Ben Rutton, past Glenelg and Sturt player Guy Ridgeway takes on the coaching role.
Josh Thewlis is in his third year in charge of the Noarlunga Shoes, who unfortunately had to cancel their round two clash due to Covid.
For the Port Noarlunga Cockle divers, the experienced Tony Roach of Norwood, North Adelaide and Amateur League fame, is in charge and will be hoping to lead them back to success.
Kicking off last month, Hills football is still as vibrant as ever with the Division One competition boasting a potent 10-team competition. At the Lobethal Tigers, Aiden Rielly has taken over from another AFL experienced footballer in Matt Fuller. They have also secured the prized recruit, dual Magarey Medallist Mitch Grigg and have another former Tigers junior, the skillful Peter Bampton, returning from The Parade.
Hahndorf is looking for a fifth successive title but have seen Jared Petrenko, Rigby Barnes, Kyle Cheney and Matt Jaensch depart.
Matt Golding, the former Crows and Glenelg footballer is still in charge, while Jake Westbrook has come up after being on Port Adelaide’s SANFL list. Zabien Parker-Boers returned after a stint with the Double Blues.
The Jack Oatey Medalist from 2012 with Norwood Dean Terlich continues at Uraidla this year, bringing into his program smooth moving Indigenous talent Roland Ah Chee and Scott Taylor from Old Scotch.
Ben Jefferies, a premiership player and best and fairest at Norwood, is the man in charge of Onkaparinga Valley Bulldogs, as playing coach.
At the Bridgewater-Callington Raiders Sam Miles is in his second year. The have already lost the services of key recruit, two-time Double Blues premiership defender Rune Gulfoy with a dreaded ACL knee injury.
Mount Lofty, with Michael Borden at the helm, has collected Declan Carmody from Glenelg, along Harry Weeks and Jamison Bowers.
After coming back up to Division One in 2017, Nairne Bremer have a former state softball coach Morgan Young in the seat.
Andrew Bruce is coaching wooden spooners in 2021, the Barkeroos. High leaping Jordan Houlihan is returning to his home club after time with Sturt and on the Essendon list. Malachi Lines is also at the Barkeroos this year.
Simon Quinn, the grandson of the legendary Port Adelaide footballer, dual Magarey and Military Medallist Bob Quinn, is in charge at Echunga Football Club. Glenelg 2019 premiership player Brad Agnew, who originally hails from the Mount Burr Mossies, is the Dees’ prime recruit.
At Blackwood Scott Prebble is in charge. They have acquired the services of Matt Tuck, Rhys Sporn, the son of West Adelaide, Essendon and Fitzroy wingman Kieran, and Joel Aish, the son of Michael, the 1981 Magarey Medallist.
In the Country division, Lochie Peter is in charge at Kersbrook as they celebrate their 100th year, taking over from the legendary Brett James. At Meadows, who were Grand Finalists last season, Scott Bailey is in charge, while it is a home coming for former Norwood ruckman/forward Brady Dawe after a couple of years with mates at Lobethal.
The Ironbank Thunderers are coached by three-time Central District premiership player Elijah Ware.
Jeremy Johncock and fellow veteran Chris Ladhams give the team plenty of experience.
The Kangarilla Double Blues went out in straight sets last year and are looking for a better finish this year under Matthew Griffiths.
Todd Bache is in charge at the Macclesfield Bloods for a second season, with Isaac Lallard and Reece Jolly as their kingpins.
Also in his second year in charge is Brett Randell at the Gumeracha Magpies. Sam Hanna, former Central District utility is the reigning Mail Medalist in the Country Division.
Celebrating the 25-year anniversary of the amalgamation of Pleasant Valley and the Mount Torrens Football Clubs is the Torrens Valley Mountain Lions, who are based at Mount Pleasant.
Adam Penny is the man in charge and Brad Hartman – an indigenous talent who was on Geelong’s list for a time – is their premier recruit.
2020 grand finalists the Birdwood Roosters have Andrew “Froggy” Lochel in charge for a third season.
In the expansive Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara competition, Nick Davis continues as the senior coach of reigning premiers Mundulla, while up the road at the Bordertown Roosters, Kane Cuthberton is in charge again, with Tom Whittlesea and Curtis McCarthy as their marquee players.
At Keith, George Thring continues as coach and the Crows’ boom recruit, the enigmatic 2018 North Adelaide premiership player Lewis Hender, returns home after 122-games for the Roosters and Glenelg.
Keiron Hicks, a former underage coach at the Glenelg Tigers is in charge of the Padthaway Lions, with State country big man Will Rivers adding strength to their spine.
The Kingston Saints have coaching stalwart Brad Richardson in control. They have recruited Jed Castley and Todd Lockwood to their stocks.
A teacher at Tennison Woods College, Brad Maney is the new Penola Eagles’ coach, with Prince Aldred Old Collegians sportsman Drew Clayfield – who played League footy at Glenelg – returned to his home club. Robe’s Zac Deane also has moved across to the KNT Eagles.
Kybybolite coach Scott Carberry has enjoyed seeing the classy former North Adelaide utility Billy Lawrie return to the Tigers.
Lucindale local Nick Case is in charge of the Roos and they have collected a trio of talents, Hamish Gordon from West Adelaide and the pair of goal kickers, Josh Trembath and Mail Medalist Riley “Fleecey” McFarlane from Glenelg, via the Tanunda Magpies.
Much travelled East Gambier footballer Matt Willson has moved up to the Naracoorte Demons to take charge.
Border District have added much travelled goal-kicking footballer Nick Schild to their squad, while they also have the reigning KNT Virgo-Mail Medallist Mark Quinn in their colours.
In the Riverland Football League, the Renmark Rovers are the early favourites for another title under former Central District and RSMU Hawks footballer Josh Vater.
There is another Woolford who has moved in the ranks at the Rovers this year, with Dan adding to the talent base from the Walkerville Cats.
At the Berri Demons, former premiership player Clint Ridgeway is the new man in charge, while they have collected a former state country player in Matt Hodge to booster their on-ball brigade.
A former junior at the club, West Adelaide and Richmond player Brad Helbig returned to the Waikerie Magpies this year, but a knee injury in round one has unfortunately ruled him out for the season.
The Stevens lads, Damien coaching the B grade and Shane coaching the A grade, are the off-field leaders at the Magpies.
Former Whillas Medallist Dylan Millard continues for a second year at the Loxton Tigers and the evergreen Luke Harder, a former 120-game Port Adelaide forward, is a new recruit.
Loxton North have Brett Thchirpig in control again, and the Panthers have seen the return of 2011 Woodville West Torrens 2011 premiership defender Ben Greiger, while also picking up Ian Worsfold from Murrayville.
Mason Middleton, the former West Adelaide marking forward, has returned to the Barmera Monash Roos, with Corey Gilgan continuing as their off-field leader.
In the Riverland Independent competition, which started in 1971 (and with the Covid effecting their 2020 campaign) this is effectively the 50th year of the competition, and their final season under the RFL umbrella.
The Ramco Roosters are the reigning premiers with Jamie O’Callahan in charge, while their ’21 Grand Final opponents, Sedan Cambrai have Christopher Eaton at the helm.
Blanchtown Swan Reach, the third team of the old Mid Murray competition in this league. They are being coached by Adam Harvey and are expected to challenge.
At the Wunkar Bulldogs, ex Paringa premiership player Thomas “Beefy” Wood is leading them this year.
Having recruited well and displaying positive signs early, the Browns Well Bombers have former Lameroo footballer Aaron Bullard making all the key calls.
Former Renmark Rover, who has spent a number of seasons at Paringa, Peter Siddle, is in charge at the Swans.
Sadly, the Cobdogla Eagles have gone into recess for the 2022 campaign.
In South Australia’s Mallee FL, 2021 premiers Border Downs – Tintinara (BDT Crows) will again be coached by Nathan Stark, a former Melbourne Demons, Glenelg and Sturt footballer.
Coming across from the Keith Crows is former SANFL Eagles and Eudunda-Robertstown player Albert Dunstan to add strength and versatility.
Runners-up last year, Pinnaroo – coached again by Mick Hyde – have collected Adam Jackson from Lameroo and have second generation player Jaylen Vogt back at the Supa Roos.
Adam Klun, former Sturt footballer is again in charge at Peake and Districts. Former Double Blues Underage and Reserves player Tom Jones has been excelling in ruck early in the season.
Across the border at the Murrayville Bulldogs, Tom Probyn is the boss and they have enticed back a number of locals, including Henry Gibson from the West Adelaide underage program.
Matthew Dent, a player with AFL, SANFL and amateur league experience, as well as a successful coach, especially at Edwardstown, is leading the Lameroo Tigers as coach.
They have secured the services of Jacob Godden, the son of Crows assistant coach Michael, who hailed from the district 30 years ago. Fellow nippy small Jackson Dalitz also adds pace to the Tigers’ forward line.
At Karoonda, Nathan Brown is the man in control again. Dylan Eleftheriadis and Jesse Bannister have added X factor to the Magpies, coming across from the Riverland competition. All-round sporting talent Corey Knight continues to defy the odds, having a strong impact for Karoonda as well.
The four-team Far North Football League competition started on April 30 and is a 12-round regular season with three weeks of finals.
The Hornridge Magpies collected the chocolates in 2021, defeating the Olympic Dam Devils and they win start favourites again under flag winning coach Paul Haynes. Mail Medalist from last season Jack Rigden in a key in the midfield for the ‘Pies.
Long-term mentor Nigel Shinnick continues in charge of the green and gold Devils.
At the Roxby Downs Miners, Jeremy Sezum is the senior coach, while the East Roxby Roos (formely the Andamooka Football Club) have Peter Rowe in charge.
One of the biggest football weekends on the calendar will be the 14th annual Miners Cup game, where the Far North Football League take on the Broken Hill Football League for bragging rights, scheduled for May 28.
All photos in this story by Peter Argent.
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