5 Year Plan- Recruiting Update

It’s that time of year the recruiting season. People not involved behind the scenes at local football are always amazed about how quickly all of the key recruits are locked away in an eight week window starting around the preliminary weekend to the start of November.


We believe we have had a great recruiting season with the addition of approximately ten targeted recruits with most of those being announced over the coming three weeks.


A New Model of Recruitment- 5 Year Plan


Like most things in business and life it’s always good to look out to the most successful people and businesses in your field to see whether you can pick up any clues to best practice you can use to help you or your organisation to be recognised as a consistent elite performer.


Stuart Mitchell our Director of Football as well as Board Director and main benefactor of the club challenged the football department to carry out an audit of our operations and benchmark ourselves against the best local football clubs in Victoria. Stuart was keen to build a foundation for long term success so under his guidance we did that.


As a local football department, we use the consistent blue-ribbon top 4 teams from the EDFL, EFL & Amateur leagues as our benchmark to learn from.


As part of our review at the end of the 2018 season we took a good look at what the successful clubs were doing in two main dimensions from a football department perspective to see if we could unlock the formula to sustained success at this level after just missing the finals two years running.


1.     Approach to coaching e.g. captain coach v standalone off field coach, untried v experienced, yet to experience v has had premiership success at our level as a coach.

2.     The nature of the list such as the average age, blend of ex AFL, VFL or proven local, players from your junior program and type of skill sets that win premierships in the last 3 years.


What we uncovered highlighted some major gaps in our 2016-2018 approach on both of these dimensions and it was decided that if we wanted to close those gaps we would need to make some hard choices and quickly.


Without giving away the secret sauce from our findings it’s important our members, stakeholders, players and supporters understand that behind all of our decisions at a football department level we are being guided by these findings and making decisions that we think will close the gap.


Appointment of Digby Morrell


One of the first and most important was our choice on the coaching panel as we announced back on September 6th we appointed Digby Morrell for a number of years because we believe Digby had all of the attributes and experiences we needed to help close the gap towards sustained excellence at this level.





Once Digby was appointed we shared our learnings and under Digby’s leadership and guidance constructed our list management and recruiting plan for the next 5 years. Again, without giving away too much we were looking to emulate what success looked like elsewhere and that meant we needed to make a few adjustments to our approach.


The three areas we looked at closely for recruitment were:


1.     The average age of our list

2.     The blend of AFL, VFL, proven local talent and players from our junior program

3.     Type of list and balance of skill sets within the playing list and possible best 30 players


There were adjustments to all three areas needed and our recruiting plan for 2019 and beyond is a reflection of this focus.


2019 Recruiting Update


As mentioned earlier we are well into our recruiting season in fact it is nearing a close with a target 10 quality recruits to add to our already impressive list and to account for some retiring and outgoing players from our 2018 playing list. Some of the 10 new recruits to date have been announced and for the ones we cannot announce yet due to players needing to get their B&F’s out of the way etc. we will describe the type of player they are to give everyone a taste for the excitement we are feeling internally about our 2019 prospects.



The New Recruits

(we will focus on the type of play they are you can read more about their history on our website articles)


Ben Allan – A proven young VFL senior footballer just at the start of the prime of his playing years, quick, highly skilled classy midfielder with a great running tank. Pascoe Vale Junior.


Errol McConnell- Another proven young VFL senior footballer at the prime of his playing days, truly tough inside beast with an incredible thirst for the defensive side of the game but with all the speed and class to capitalise on his hard work.


Josh Cauchi- Another proven young VFL senior footballer at the prime of his playing days, electric speed, incredible goal sense and an appetite to look for some more midfield time after a year off with injury. Pascoe Vale Junior.


Yet to be named- Big strong tall CHF who has been on an AFL list and played Senior VFL football, young and in the prime of his playing days with a good 5 years of excellent football ahead of him, great contested mark, big running tank and willingness to work up and down the ground.


Yet to be named- A proven excellent local footballer very quick, super fit running engine with good skills this new wingman will provide us lots of line breaking and gut running for 120 mins of footy week in and week out.


Yet to be named- A 6 ft 3 super fit and mobile forward he is a proven local performer in the prime of his playing years, strong contested mark who has kicked a large number of goals who also has the capacity and tank to get up to the wing to make his unique set of skills very hard to match playing as possibly a third forward in the Panthers forward line after being the main doubled teamed focus for past opposition teams he could cause all sorts of problems for opposition teams in 2019 and beyond.


Yet to be named- A proven inside mid beast and defensive running animal with a huge thirst for the contest and proven local performer. A mentally and physically tough performer that all opposition mid fields will not be looking forward to playing at Raeburn Reserve.


Yet to be named- A 6 ft 6 lockdown CHB, FB in the prime of his playing years who has tasted premiership success in a quality local competition he is well known to the coaching group and his range of skills and defensive mindset will ensure all opposition CHF or FF’s will be in for a tough day.


Yet to be named- A young line breaking super quick, highly skilled mid half back with VFL experience and proven local performer with a capability and experience playing midfield.


Yet to be named- A Grade Blue Ribbon midfielder in the prime of his playing years with proven elite local performance and tasted lots of success.


Yet to be named - 6 ft 5 elite senior VFL backman in his early to mid-twenties who is signing with the Panthers as a feeder club in 2019 with a view to playing a few games and building a relationship for the 5 year plan.


Yet to be named- Mid twenty year old specialist full back proven local performer with some experience in Premier, a bit of Dustin Fletcher about his body shape and style, someone who has a thirst for locking down.


Our Current List


It’s also of critical importance that nearly all of our current group who is fit and playing at this level in 2019 has resigned and or were previously contracted for 2019. Some great resigning’s so far are Michael Ross, Luke Foster, Dean Soncin, Jake Polizzi, Giles Guest, Kristian Economou, Jesse Boyd, Murat Ergunen


There is a small number of well-known and much love names yet to be contracted that the club is keen to retain like Lachie Hansen, Gavin Urquhart, Liam Forbes, Jordan Cellini, Jimmy Avramov, Michael Cassinides & Dean Tydell as well as the under 19 group who we are working through contracts for over the coming weeks.



Players Leaving from 2018

(I won’t list all of their incredible accolades here of these players which we have done in person and will do again on our Presentation Night)


Paul Bunn- Retiring

Craig Anderson- Retiring at this level

Daniel Harris- Retiring at this level

Kyle Hardingham- Playing Coach Doutta Stars

Ben Ross- Retiring due to persistent hip injury (Ben may play a few games back home)

Patty Veszpremi- Will be doing a preseason with Williamstown and whilst Patty is still contracted to the Panthers for 2019 we wish him well in his endeavours to keep the fire burning at the higher level.

Shayne Allan- Undecided but is likely to move closer to home or back to his old club as a coach after a devastating year with injury and only getting to play 4 games for the Panthers.

Justin Cannon