THE Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League season kicks-off this Easter weekend with five matches being played across two divisions.
The match with the biggest hype will be played at the home of peninsula football, Frankston Park, when Frankston Bombers tackle Pearcedale on Good Friday.
Fresh from winning ‘Celebrity get me out of here”, former Carlton and Brisbane Lion full forward Brendan Fevola will be lining up for the Bombers.
Frankston Bombers have invested enormously into the Fevola appearance and drawing a big crowd. For the Bombers’ sake, let’s hope a big crowd get down to Frankston Park on Good Friday.
Outside of Fevola, the Bombers have recruited extremely well in the off season.
Ryan Marks-Logan, who played a number of games for the Bombers last season, has committed for the season, as has Dale Sutton, who is also a Frankston boy.
Jarryd Amalfi has crossed from Langwarrin and will slot into a half back role, while Sam Fox and Ryan Kitchen are two big recruits for the Bombers. Kitchen is the ruckman the Bombers have been looking, especially with James Orr leaving the club.
The Bombers have an outstanding draw in 2016 and should be expecting to play finals.
Their opponent on Good Friday is Pearcedale.
The Panthers have picked up Travis Bravo and Robbie Muir from Somerville, while Troy Jacobson and Alex Harnett return from Frankston Dolphins.
Basil Sibosado is the most significant loss for the Panthers, while Andrew Knight and Brendan Neville are also no longer at the club.
The Panthers will be relying on another improved year from its youngsters, especially under the guidance of new assistant coach Chris Irving.
Down the Peninsula, also on Good Friday, Rosebud will unfurl its flag against old foe Rye.
There is a bit to prove from both sides this season.
The Buds will be expected to back up from its premiership win last season and challenge again.
Rye was the big disappointment last season and will be keen to avenge not playing finals.
Rosebud has picked up former Seaford star Michael Kraska as coach, who has been playing bush footy for the past couple of seasons. He is yet to play a practice match and missed most of December-January through overseas travel. It’s not the ideal preparation.
The Buds were banking on ‘Kras’ bringing a couple of recruits with him, however, none followed.
The question for Rosebud is how do they cover their losses?
The dominant forward of the competition last season in Tom Baker is at Casey, while fellow forward players in Lachy Armstrong (retired) and Cade Williams (Dromana) will not be in the front six either. Arguably two of the best five midfielders in the comp last season is Jason Bristow and Rob Forrest have left and the tough Paul McDonald has hung them up.
Expect the Buds to miss the finals all together this season.
Rye needs to play finals.
James Appleford returns from Frankston Dolphins. Matt Greig and Craig Christie come from the EFL, Steve Downes returns after stints at Dromana and in the EFL and there’s a handful of blokes they have picked up from South Mornington.
Andrew Dean (Tooradin), Jye Lloyd (Casey) and Rhett Sutton are big outs, while Matt Goodman has also left.
On Easter Saturday, Dromana will play host to Sorrento.
The messiah of Dromana, Rikki Johnston, has returned to the Tigers as coach.
The result of this great move by the Tigers has seen a number of recruits join the club, while others have returned.
After a long battle with illness, Adam Hunter has been given the all clear from doctors, completed a full pre-season and will line up in this match and is ready for a big season.
Aaron Hunter, Michael Gillis and Jay Hutchison have returned, Cade Williams is back from Rosebud, while Rory Gregg (ruckman from Chelsea), Beau Cosson (VCFL key forward from Ararat) and Mitch Gill-Furness (defender from Langwarrin) have signed with the club and will all be very good players. Braden Hyde has also signed with the club.
Sorrento has had some mixed fortunes.
New Sorrento coach and reigning premiership coach Nick Jewell was keeping things is perspective when it comes to the upcoming season.
“We’ve lost some very good players and we’ve picked up some very good players. I think people focus sometimes on the signings and forget about those who you have lost,” Jewell said last year.
Those losses include four team of the year players in Jon Croad, Leigh Poholke, Daniel Grant and Troy Schwarze. These four players would walk straight into any club in Australia. Add the emerging Brodie Webb and Chris Morgan, along with key premiership forward Ryan Jeffrey and there’s a big hole.
A key recruit was Rob Forrest from Rosebud, however, he requires a full knee reconstruction after injury in a practice match two weeks ago.
On the up, however, is key forward Nick Corp, who is a gun, Doug Scott returns from Barwon, Scott Lockwood and Jack Egan cross from Mt Eliza, Dalton Sanderson is back from QLD, Daniel Hickey is back from Rosebud and Kayle Stringer-Morris returns.
Somerville and Tyabb also go toe to toe on Easter Saturday.
The Eagles’ big recruit is Ben Crowe, who will straighten them up.
Michael Towan and Adam Rose also return to the Eagles – they are all one point players.
More importantly, the Eagles haven’t lost anyone. They will start the season as flag favorites.
Tyabb has done a load of work in the off season under new coach Mark Paganoni.
Former skipper Ethan Rahilly has returned with brother Simon, Rowan McGrath has gone back, while they have picked up many players from around the traps. Justin Volk is the noticeable out, crossing to Devon Meadows.
The Yabbies will be more competitive, no question.
Bonbeach and Edithvale-Aspendale will launch the MPNFL Peninsula Division season.
Unfortunately, once again, all of the interest in this competition is who will finish second to 10th.
Frankston YCW has been able to retain all of its list and the big talk is that Lachy Wallace and Anthony Barry will play early rounds for the Stonecats due to interrupted pre-seasons with Collingwood and Western Bulldogs VFL teams respectively.
The Stonecats were head and shoulders above everyone else last season and will be again.
Bonbeach lost a lot of players between the 2014 and 2015 seasons but many have returned – none bigger than Shane McDonald, who will make an enormous difference.
Robbie Lancaster and Michael Turville return while Ash Waterstone comes across to play with his brother from Dromana.
Nathan Robinson is the notable out for the Sharks.
Edithvale, who took part in finals last season, will slide in a big way.
The outs are horrific – Adam Budge, Matthew Clark, Jordy Derbyshire, Jarrod Garth, Tim Mavric, Brett O’Hanlon, Brad Tagg and youngsters Darcy Holden and Brody Lawford – that’s half of your starting 18 and the majority with star quality.
Giant ruckman Chris Wylie comes on board from Wonthaggi, Brendan Neville crosses from Pearcedale, Jeremy Heys and Andrew Luxa return from East Brighton, Joel Sullivan crosses from Dolphins, Brad Langenberg from Chelsea and Elliott Macquire from Old Mentonians.