DRYSDALE is shaping as the Bellarine Football League’s biggest improver in 2019 following the addition of some high quality recruits.
The Hawks have been active since the appointment of Daniel Jull and Luke Matthews as the replacements for departed coach Wade Chapman in late September.
Mitch McGuire has returned home to captain the club after two years with Geelong Football League club Leopold, which included winning the Lions’ best-and-fairest, while Ben Carmichael is back after stints at the Lions and Queenscliff.
McGuire is not the only addition at Mortimer Oval from the GFL, with Bell Park trio Jarrod Garth, Jarrod Love and Chris Lynch also signing on.
Former Essendon speedster Lauchie Dalgleish, who has most recently been playing VFL with Footscray, will also wear the brown and gold next season.
Barwon Heads has also been busy as it looks to go one better than its grand final loss to Modewarre.
The Seagulls have welcomed Adelaide player Tim McIntyre from Koroit, and ex-Brisbane Lions listed Brad Harvey (Wandin), with Harvey’s brother Ryan (Lilydale), Tim Chapman (Diamond Creek) and Ben Stephens (Heathmont) looming as handy additions.
With Bobby Wallace stepping down as co-coach, Mitch Herbison will share the role with former Lara and St Mary’s mentor Troy Mitchell.
Anglesea, Ocean Grove and Geelong Amateur will also have new coaches.
Paul Nigro has stepped up to replace Paul Carson at Alcoa Oval, former West Coast Eagle Jordan Jones has headed back to the Grubbers for the first time in a decade, and ex-Geelong speedster Kane Tenace has taken over from the Rowan McSparron-Jarrod Young combination at KFC Oval.
The Roos have welcomed former Bell Park big man Zane Vail as it looks to snap a 20-year premiership drought.
Reigning premier Modewarre will have a different look at the top, with BFL great Josh Finch stepping down after three years as coach.
Big man John Meesen will share the role with star defender Seamus Orr in 2019.
Newcomb will have plenty of new faces, with ex- Werribee midfielder James Hussey to call the Power home in 2019.
However, the biggest news of the off-season so far was confirmation in November the Bellarine would clash with the Geelong and District Football League at AFL Victoria Community Championships level for the first time since 1989.
The highly-anticipated match-up is fixtured for the third weekend in May, with AFL Barwon exploring the potential for a Friday night or Sunday game to avoid a clash with the Geelong-Western Bulldogs AFL fixture on Saturday, May 18.
The GDFL won’t be short on talent, with some quality inclusions to the competition.
Bannockburn has welcomed home tough-as-nails midfielder Jack Brauman after a year with VFL club Werribee and also signed former Geelong player Tom Gillies, who has been starring as a forward with GFL team St Mary’s.
Young gun Michael Cadman is back at Corio after a stint with GFL club Geelong West, while Inverleigh has appointed former Geelong Amateur and Grovedale star Adam Donohue as playing coach.
The Hawks have also signed Josh Bouwman from Modewarre.
Former Torquay player Ayden George will coach North Geelong, and he has lured 2013 premiership player Lachie Wright back to Osborne Park from Grovedale.
Winchelsea has also been active with the signings of Leigh Ellis (Grovedale), Jye Price (Western Eagles), Adam Stirling (St Albans) and Dylan Williams (Grovedale).
Reigning premier Thomson has strengthened its forward line with club great Jackson Macleod returning from a year at Apollo Bay.
As well as George and Donohue, Justin Tarr and Caleb Bacely (Bell Post Hill) and Darren Bennett (Corio) are new to senior coaching roles, while Mitch Wight will step up as co-coach of Geelong West alongside Andrew Clark.
The GFL has been the quietest of the three leagues– both on and off the field.
Paul Carson has stepped into the coaching position vacated by three-time premiership mentor Heath Jamieson at St Joseph’s, while former Inverleigh coach Mark McDowell has taken over at North Shore following the sudden departure of Sam Darley after just one season in charge.
At St Albans, Hayden Best will go it alone with brother Jarrod stepping down, Rowan McSparron has joined Colac to share the coaching role with Kane Leersen, and at Bell Park, highly-rated St Joseph’s assistant Shane Jack has replaced Luke Rayner as cocoach alongside Tim Sheringham.
South Barwon, which surprised many with its semi-final appearance after five years in the finals wilderness, appears well-placed to improve again with the arrival of former St Kilda midfielder Josh Saunders from the Hampden league.
The Swans have also added Ocean Grove trio Andrew Jarvis, Matt Caldow and Jahd Anderson.
Other high-quality recruits to the GFL include Ben Moloney (Werribee to St Mary’s), Josh Jaska (Gold Coast to St Mary’s), Alex and Joel Moloney (Terang Mortlake to Leopold), Dalton Grundell (Inverleigh to Geelong West) and Nik Rokahr and Luke Smith (Shepparton Bears to Bell Park).
All three competitions will start on April 6, with the BFL to play over Easter, including a Good Friday meeting between Torquay and Modewarre at Spring