LANGWARRIN has successfully fended off overtures from other NPL clubs and has agreed terms with striker John Kuol for a second straight season.
And while Mornington looks set to sign Langy striker Liam Baxter it may lose attacking midfielder Sammy Orritt and striker Max Etheridge.
Dandenong City was among a number of clubs interested in Kuol but the opportunity of being coached by former Fulham assistant manager and Newcastle Jets head coach Scott Miller was too good to refuse.
“It was a no-brainer really,” Kuol said.
“I wanted the chance to be coached by someone of Scott’s experience plus Langy’s been really good to me and I feel at home there.”
Kuol, 24, is from South Sudan and has played for Traralgon City, Morwell Pegasus and Dandenong Thunder.
His spell with Thunder in 2017 was short-lived and he returned to Pegasus in the back half of that season before joining Langy for its inaugural season in NPL2.
Kuol will be part of a new-look Langwarrin attack featuring Damir Stoilovic, David Stirton, Luis Covarrubias and Jordan Templin and is confident that the side can gel quickly.
“The new players don’t mean anything if we are not operating as a unit and there is no chemistry so that will be the biggest challenge for Scotty.”
And it’s a challenge Kuol expects the head coach to win.
“I’m really looking forward to playing my best football and I think we are going to be the team to look out for.
“I think we could go all the way.”
But Langy will almost certainly have to do so without the services of Baxter, Kuol’s attacking partner last season.
Baxter, 27, joined Langwarrin from Goulburn Valley Suns in April 2017.
He was on the books of Scottish Championship outfit Inverness Caledonian Thistle until he was 17 when he decided to leave to get more first team football.
He played in the Highland League with Brora Rangers, Buckie Thistle and Forres Mechanics before coming to Melbourne.
Mornington senior coach Adam Jamieson has been an admirer of the striker for some time so it’s no surprise that he looks set to end up at Dallas Brooks Park.
Orritt, 25, has met with Jamieson and outlined his intentions to play at the highest possible level next season.
“I’ve told ‘Jamo’ I want to keep my options open even though I know that Mornington will be an NPL club sooner rather than later,” he said.
“I’m good friends with Oakleigh assistant coach Chris Marshall and I’m planning to train there.”
Mornington signed Orritt from NZ outfit Coastal Spirit during the 2017 season.
He was a junior at English club Rotherham United, had a short spell at Lincoln United then played college football in the US for Limestone College in South Carolina before signing for Scottish club Cowdenbeath in 2015.
Orritt set the local scene alight in the back half of the 2017 season and many observers believe he could play at a higher level however visa quotas look certain to play a part in his final destination.
Mornington brought Etheridge to Dallas Brooks Park last season.
The 28-year-old Englishman had been here previously and had played with Morwell Pegasus, Bentleigh Greens and Kingston City.
There is a strong rumour that he’ll end up at Kingston again.
Mornington’s annual golf day will be held at Mornington Golf Club on Friday 18 January and will incorporate a sportsman’s dinner featuring former professional players Michael Bridges, Terry Hennessey, Doug Hodgson and Nathan Peel.
An auction of current and historic soccer memorabilia will be held in the evening.
Former Mornington specialist coach and local goalkeeping legend Peter Blasby has accepted an offer from Croatian-backed NPL club Dandenong City to become its goalkeeping coach.
Blasby and Dandenong head coach Zeljko Kuzman met last week and thrashed out a deal which will initially see Blasby holding two sessions a week with the senior and under-20 keepers.
Blasby is keen to develop the role and work with the club’s junior NPL keepers.
Dandenong’s sister club Melbourne Knights named its team of the century in 2003 as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations and Blasby was selected in goal.
He has been held in high regard by the Croatian community for some time and regularly shuns overtures from Knights who are based in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Dandenong City heads to South Australia later this month to play a friendly match against Adelaide Croatia Raiders.
In State 2 South-East news Peninsula Strikers have invited expressions of interest for the reserves coaching position.
The successful applicant will work with a predominantly under-23 squad and must have prior coaching experience, good communicative skills and either hold or be willing to attain a C-level coaching licence.
Applicants can email Marty Sutherland at email@example.com and applications close at 5pm on Monday 19 November.
In State 4 South news getting Langwarrin midfielder Jonny Guthrie to Baxter Park may be the key to luring back midfielder Matt Morgan, who is keen to play alongside Guthrie.
Morgan left Baxter midway through last season and joined Hampton Park United but that club has been plagued with administrative upheaval and it’s understood that he is keen to move.
He already has been targeted by Skye United but Baxter remains firmly on his radar.
Baxter brothers Owen and Liam Kilner have been the subject of recent rumours linking them with a switch to Dandenong Warriors who were hoping to sign their father and former Baxter gaffer Roy Kilner as head coach.
Owen Kilner made it clear that he won’t be heading in that direction.
“I certainly won’t be playing for Dandenong Warriors and at this point in time I’m playing for Baxter,” he said.
“I’m pretty keen to see what [new coach] George Hughes brings to the club because he seems very ambitious and makes it quite clear what he wants to achieve.”
Late on Sunday news emerged that Roy Kilner had accepted an offer to work alongside Gavin Ithier at Baxter’s State 4 rival Sandown Lions.
“Imagine if the opening game of the season was Baxter versus Sandown. Now that would be nice,” Roy Kilner said.
“As for Owen and Liam I expect them to remain at Baxter.”
In State 5 South news Somerville Eagles have outdone a couple of local clubs by snapping up experienced midfielder Will O’Brien from Frankston Pines.
He becomes the ambitious club’s fourth off-season signing and it’s believed midfielder Daniel Hodge will be next as Somerville builds a strong senior squad for its title tilt in 2019.
New joint senior coach Scott Morrison was instrumental in signing striker Mark Pagliarulo, midfielder Carlo Cardoso, defender/winger Callum Richardson and O’Brien and his relationship with Hodge from their Rosebud Heart days looks set to secure his signature.
Director of coaching Zach Peddersen says that the influx of new players may not end there.
“We expect another three to four players from other local clubs to attend pre-season training,” Peddersen said.
“We’ve lost Damien Finnegan from the senior squad due to work commitments but he is coaching our fourths in the Bayside League and all other players have committed to returning.”
Somerville’s coaching staff consists of star striker David Greening (player-coach), Morrison (joint coach), Stan Packer (assistant coach and youth development coach), Stuart Mitchell (goalkeeping coach), Thomas Morris-Thomas (reserves coach), Paul Robinson (thirds coach) and Finnegan.
The club also agreed terms last weekend with Maddy Boyd as player-coach of its women’s team.
Boyd has been involved with the TOPSA program at Peninsula Grammar and is a lightning-quick striker with great goal sense.
Somerville’s academy program has been going for four weeks and Pagliarulo has been training with the squad before pre-season gets underway in earnest for the seniors.
“Pags” is rumoured to have failed a body fat test which prompted him joining in with the academy squad and he claims he already has lost four kilograms.
The shire council has put up fencing at Tyabb Central Reserve and Somerville has bought a food van, portable showers and a 20-seater bus as its gears up for next season.
A recent meeting with the state Member for Hastings, Neale Burgess, went well and the main topics of discussion were the currently prohibitive costs for using Somerville Secondary College as a training and playing venue and the prospects of acquiring land on which to develop a permanent facility.