There's plenty of life in the Doves
It may be drawing a long bow to make a connection between the Doveton Football Club and famous American writer and entrepreneur Mark Twain.
But Twain’s famous words – “Rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated” – ring true with the Doves as they prepare for a huge season in the South East Football Netball League (SEFNL) this year.
Yes, the Doves are struggling for numbers in the Under 19s, but rumours of a mass exodus of players remain largely untrue.
A club stalwart in Daniel Charles returns to the helm of the senior team, while the focus now squarely sits on under 19 recruitments to get each and every Saturday off to a great start.
Doves president Aaron Henwood knows that is the top priority for his club right now.
“We have a really talented bunch of under 19s but given our youth policy a lot of those players will be playing senior football in 2018,” Henwood said.
“As it currently stands it leaves us short of numbers in the 19s, so we’re offering free membership for first-year players and free shorts and socks as well. The under 19s have been so important to this club over the years and we’re desperate to keep that connection going.”
The Doves have built a strong reputation for developing their young talent, with up to a dozen players set to make their mark at senior level this year.
The likes of Tyson Bellinger, Dylan Bowman, Josh Bradley, Shannon Brennan, Ricky Johnson, Malis Lokeron, Jake Nicholson, Declan O’Donnell and Will Smith have all had a taste of the top flight, while Beau Anthony and Brad O’Brien are two talented youngsters set to make their mark.
“That was out top priority, to keep the young guys, invest in our youth and build a team around that young talent and a core group of senior players,” Henwood said.
The Doves have lost some star quality with Nick Battle, Michael Henry and Sam Raru moving on, but have recruited wisely to replace them.
Port Melbourne premiership player Jake Dermott returns to the club, while Matt Stapleton, Alex Mastromanno and Riley D’Arcy all look set for big years. Sam Ellis returns, while exciting ruckman Gach Nyuon will play a full season at the club, freeing up champion ruckman Russell Gabriel to spend more time up forward.
Henwood is excited about the year ahead.
“Our best performance last year was against Narre Warren and 19 of the players that played that day remain on our list,” Henwood explained, before shutting down rumours that the club would not field a reserves team this year.
“We have an average age of just over 20 and 36 contracted players, more than any other year since I’ve been president.
“We’ll field two teams and I think we’ll have a better season than last year.”
Under 19s and senior players looking for a proud club to call home can contact Henwood on 0417 033 471.