BILLY Painting joined Rosebud last week hellbent on being part of the Olympic Park club’s title tilt next year.
“I’m not just here to make up the numbers – I’m here to win the league,” Painting said.
“And from what I hear that seems to be the mentality of everyone down there.”
Painting’s switch ended a seven-year stint at Skye United and the 28-year-old central defender is hoping the move reignites his passion for football.
“I really needed a new challenge because I’d fallen out of love with the game,” he said.
“I don’t really know why.
“I just knew that I needed a change but leaving Skye was a very hard thing to do.
“I spoke to a few players at Skye’s presentation and while I didn’t really get the chance to say goodbye I’ll be down there watching them next year whenever I get the chance.”
English-born Painting arrived in Melbourne in 2008 and played with a host of clubs – Berwick City, Croydon, Box Hill, Bentleigh Greens, Langwarrin, Casey Comets and Seaford United – before arriving at Skye Recreation Reserve.
Ironically the initial link with Rosebud came through Skye assistant coach Peter Natsis who had applied for the then vacant coaching role in September and Painting was one of four players he intended bringing with him.
Although Natsis ended his interest in the job Rosebud keeper Colin McCormack knew Painting well and played a significant role in convincing him to make the move.
And no-one at Olympic Park was more delighted than new head coach Stuart Johnson who was glowing in his praise of the experienced defender.
“Billy is such a lovely footballer, really graceful and I like that in a defender,” Johnston said.
“We’ve also signed Jhai Watts who is a midfielder with a really good engine and he can also fill-in as a central defender.
“Having a spine with Colin, Billy and Jhai with a couple more to come in we’ll have experience there which is really important.”
Watts has played in Melbourne’s north-west at State 4 and State 5 levels with Lara and Bell Park.
Another newcomer is midfielder Frank Barrett who has been involved with one of Plymouth Argyle’s development centres.
However Johnson concedes that there are players who have indicated that they could look elsewhere and two of those are young striker Noah Musso and experienced defender Dougie Cunnison.
Musso had a breakout senior season this year winning State 5 South’s best and fairest and Golden Boot awards while Cunnison is a former Keilor Park captain.
“Noah definitely falls into the category of ‘what does the future hold for me’ and I don’t know what he’ll do at the end of the day,” Johnson added.
“Whether or not we sign Dougie is an ongoing conversation but signing someone like Billy gives us an alternative in that space immediately.”
In NPL2 news Langwarrin’s first pre-season hit-out resulted in a 4-3 away loss to Manningham United Blues at Petty’s Reserve on Friday night.
West Australian striker Joe O’Brien, Archie Macphee and Jacob Brito scored for Langy and head coach Jamie Skelly was pleased with the display.
“It was good to get 45 minutes into all the players, there were some good passages of play and an opportunity for some younger players to test themselves against a good quality team,” Skelly said.
“There’s still likely to be two or three more key signings as we are looking to strengthen in all areas of the pitch.”
In State 3 news Frankston Pines made the deadline last week for payment of part of its annual fees to Football Victoria.
The governing body recently announced that member clubs owed nearly $2 million in unpaid fees and threatened to kick clubs out of State League if a significant part of their debt wasn’t settled by the end of November.
FV is expected to name Pines in an updated list of financially compliant clubs shortly.
The major makeover of Pines’ squad continues under new coach Donn Delaney and assistant Trevor Johnston.
The bulk of the newcomers are from Peninsula Strikers, Delaney’s old stomping ground, but he’s also got players at training from a range of clubs including Mazenod and Mount Eliza.
An under-16 group from State 4 neighbour Chelsea also is training at Monterey.
“We’re looking okay and we’ll get better as we definitely have some quality boys there,” Delaney said.
A core group of players have left but that was anticipated and played an important role in Delaney being hired.
“Well that was part of the process wasn’t it,” Delaney added.
“We wanted a restart and to get some youth into the group and that is what we are doing.”
The departures include captain Ryan Ratcliffe, Joey O’Connor and Dylan Waugh while a number of players are undecided about whether or not to stay.
Ratcliffe is a former Malvern City captain and joined Pines from Tasmanian club Launceston United for the 2022 season.
“I was really disappointed that we went down this year,” Ratcliffe said.
“If we had kept the team that got us up from State 3 I have no doubts that we would have done really well in State 2.
“But now there’s a new coach, a new environment so maybe it’s for the best that a core group has moved on.
“I haven’t spoken to a lot of the boys to be honest as I left the (Facebook) group chat about three weeks ago.
“When Donn got the job I had it confirmed by other players not the club and when I got a text from Donn I told him I was going to look elsewhere.”
Relegation back to State 3 hit Ratcliffe hard but he hopes the club recovers quickly.
“As the captain I took responsibility for the relegation.
“Someone had to do that and I put my hand up.
“They are trying to go down a different path now so I wish them well and I hope that a new fresh approach works for them.”
O’Connor joined Pines from Casey Comets five years ago.
Like Ratcliffe he was a walk-up start whenever available and is a major loss.
He’s training with Brandon Park.
Waugh will have arthroscopic hip surgery on Thursday and will wait on the outcome before deciding where he’ll play next year.
“Essentially I have to get the hip joint cleaned out and part of the hip bones shaved off as they have been rubbing and causing damage for years.
“The surgeon will advise me as to whether or not I can keep playing and if I do decide to play on I think I’ll drop down a league or two.”
The departed players will have no shortage of suitors and already local clubs in State 2 and State 4 have shown interest.