The first ever AFL Outer East season is creeping every closer, and as anticipation builds we’ll be taking a closer look at each and every club in our newly formed home.
Our introduction to the incoming South East clubs chugs along, as we look at the refreshed Doveton Football Netball Club.
For the Doveton Football and Netball Club, 2018 was one of very mixed results. Their netballers held up the fort, with all senior grades finishing in the finals, climaxing with D Grade completing the defence of their 2017 title.
Meanwhile the Football department will be looking to use the newly formed competition as a line in the sand. The club won just one game of football between its Reserves and Seniors last season, that win coming in Round Two against Pakenham in the reserves clash.
They were also unable to field an under 19 side.
This year is shaping up as something different though, with the Doves improving both on and off the field. First things first, the club will be back in the Saturday underage competitions, with an under 18 side ready to compete in 2019.
They’ve also completed the impressive acquisition of Martin Stillman, who will become the clubs Director of Football. Stillman has an impressive Football CV, including roles as the General Manager of the VFL, Calder Cannons Regional Manager, Port Melbourne Board Member and more recently coach of Oakleigh (VAFA) and Forest Hill (EFL) Football Clubs.
Speaking about his experience with the Doves so far, Stillman was quite clear in what the clubs focus had been.
“We’ve just been looking to attract good people.”
Diving in a bit deeper, Stillman revealed that the return of some passionate Doveton people, has helped improve the number and quality of pre-season training sessions.
“We’ve had 60 plus players on the track throughout pre-season, all brimming with excitement about the new league.”
Of those 60 players cutting up the track, almost a dozen are new recruits with plenty of experience from various leagues across the state, including the EFL, MPNFL and VFL.
Names such as Michael Sikora and Lachie Batten suggest to Stillman that the Doves will be ready to bounce back in 2019.
“Michael (Sikora) is a 207 centimetre ruckman who has plenty of VFL experience having played 50+ games with Sandringham, Essendon(VFL), Willamstown and Frankston,”
“He also represented the VFL in 2013 in their clash with the WAFL so he’ll compliment midfielder Lachie Batten, who played for Doveton back in 2014, before going on to play with Sandy (Sandringham) in 2017 and 18.”
Along with Batten and Sikora, Stillman named young forward James Gascard, impressive VFL defender Luke Daidone, midfielder Mitch Viney and Rowville defender Daniel Zajac as ones who will see the Doves fly back up the table.
Cassie Hackett was not faced with the same problem this off season. Heading into her fourth year as the Doveton Netball president, Hackett is content with the Doves last season and expects the club to continue on that trend.
“We want to continue playing consistent finals, it’ll be tough coming up against new teams and new challenges, but we think we’ll be up to it.”
Despite going back to back in last two years, many of Doveton’s successful D Grade side have moved on, retiring after having reached their goal. It means the club can continue promoting talent from its youth ranks.
“Our 15s and 17s have been strong for a number of years now, and we’ve always looked to push some of the 17s up throughout the senior grades, so this provides us with another opportunity to do that.”
One of two clubs who are seen as one entity alongside the football club officially, Hackett describes Doveton with a distinct passion.
“You feel at home straight away here, its just so welcoming,”
“Once you get here, you don’t even want to leave, it’s an amazing atmosphere.”
Doveton host Officer to kick off their 2019 campaign.