ASPENDALE Stingrays captain Peter Dimopoulos has a blunt message for players thinking of joining the State 5 club.
“It’s a culture-driven club so no matter how good a player you are you have to be prepared to be part of the group,” the 25-year-old said.
“Look, at the end of the day it’s a State 5 club and if you’re not going to get in amongst the boys and be prepared to have a bit of fun then you won’t fit in.
“Right now we’re in talks with one or two players to come down and see what they can do but culture is a big thing with the ’Rays.”
So is attitude on and off the pitch.
“One of the things that separates us from other clubs is you’ll see a lot of teams in our league go a goal down and start arguing with each other but that doesn’t happen with us.
“I think a lot of other teams and coaches pick up on that and in terms of culture what we have as a team and as a club is very hard to beat.”
That could be why so many other teams in the league are keen to sign Aspendale players.
“So many of our players get scouted by other clubs,” Dimopoulos added.
“They get messages every week and I’m not talking about myself but other players in the team are getting multiple messages trying to get them to come down.
“And another thing – at our club you are expected to rock up to training every single week.
“Even after a bad loss the numbers are there at training the following week and I don’t think a lot of other clubs can say that.
“Our heads don’t drop and I think that’s really important.”
Dimopoulos arrived at Aspendale via Monash juniors, Oakleigh Cannons, St Kilda and Brighton.
He made the switch from Brighton with Kieran Hughes for the 2019 season under Lee Barber who was dumped two years later in favour of joint coaches Gregor Macnab and Tony Guedes who remain at the helm.
“Lee’s a nice enough guy but it just didn’t work out.
“Gregor and Tony absolutely love the club and they’d do anything for the club.
“They had great success in the ressies so they took on the first team and the ressies which was a massive effort from them.”
This year the coaching duo completed their first full season in charge with the seniors finishing seventh and the reserves winning the championship.
Dimopoulos thinks he knows how the senior team can raise the bar of expectation and seriously challenge for promotion next year.
“We played good football last season, we knocked it about well but we just couldn’t finish in some games.
“Several injuries and a couple of guys going away (overseas) including myself didn’t help but we finished the season okay and some of the individual performances were good.
“We have a very young team and while new players always helps I really think that once some of the boys get to play against men more often they’ll feel more comfortable and it will make a difference in the league next year for sure.”
And Dimopoulos will be there to keep urging them on.
“To be honest the way some of the other boys play the captaincy could go to any one of them.
“I’m a bit of a big mouth, I’m loud and I’m confident around the boys and that’s probably why I got the armband.
“But there are multiple boys in the team who purely lead by example every week and that’s what’s going to drive us on next year.
“It’s who we are.”
In NPL2 news attacking midfielder Kieran Dover and defender Marcus Holmes have left Langwarrin.
Dover rejoined Dandenong Thunder while Holmes is tipped to join State 1 outfit Fitzroy City.
Langy has triallists going through their paces at Lawton Park and decisions about signing them are expected soon.
Recent rumours linking Langy with former player John Baird weren’t far off the mark.
It’s believed that the former Scottish professional was contacted at his current club, Mandurah City, but chose to stay in Western Australia.
In State 1 news Mornington has agreed terms with a striker from Scotland but won’t name him prior to his expected arrival in Melbourne in January.
He has played with Hearts.
Mornington also is in talks with an NPL defender.
In State 2 news defender Andy McIntyre agreed terms with Peninsula Strikers last week after four seasons at Mornington.
McIntyre is the fourth signing from the Seagulls during the off-season and the list of newcomers may not end there according to joint senior coach Scott Morrison.
“We know there are some other boys coming to training who are going to push hard to break into the squad and the challenge for everyone is to put their best foot forward and create a competitive and enjoyable environment that will hopefully be the catalyst for a successful season,” he said.
In State 4 news Liam Baxter’s stint with Baxter may be short-lived.
He is expected to try out with new NPL3 outfit Beaumaris just two months after switching from Frankston Pines to Baxter.
However, Baxter head coach Stephen Fisher is confident that he can retain the experienced striker.
“To be honest he loves it there at Baxter but he wants to go there (Beaumaris) and have a look and I’m fine with that.
“I told him it’s all about him at Baxter but if he wants to be a fringe player or a squad player at Beauy then it’s up to him.
“I’m sure he’s smart enough to work it out for himself.”
State 4 rival Chelsea hopes to pick up a couple of signings via Dandenong South and Somerville Eagles.
Somerville’s Adrian Pace, 29, plays primarily on the left and has played with Bentleigh Greens, Peninsula Strikers, Frankston Pines, Seaford United, Baxter and Aspendale Stingrays.
If Chelsea head coach Carlo Melino can clinch Pace’s signature it will be the player’s second stint there having been with Chelsea for the 2013 season.
Chris Thomas is a midfielder who has been on the books of Seaford United and Somerville and switched to Dandy South last season.
Somerville was keen to get him back but Chelsea looms as the frontrunner for his signature right now.
“Chris will be a great pick-up for us,” Melino said.
“Spoke with him last week and he wants to play for us in 2023.
“He came down and had a kick in our Chelsea Cup tournament and really enjoyed himself.”