Hillside isn’t content to rest on an Essendon District Football League division 1 finals appearance, with the Sharks keen to make further inroads.

The Sharks finished second before being knocked out of the finals in straight sets, but it was huge inroads for the side which made division 1 finals for the first time.

New director of football Darren Mantynen said the playing group was keen to build on what they did this year.

“The expectations are right up there,” he said.

“We want to win at least one final. We’re in good shape and we’ve maintained most of the core group of players.

“There’s been really good buy-in since Steve Burns took over as coach. The guys really want to have a crack.”

The Sharks re-signed their core group of players before the season ended, with only one or two players not returning.

With the playing group locked away, the Sharks targeted a few gaps they thought they had.

One area was at centre half-forward. Mitch Church will fill that void coming across from EDFL division 1 rival Westmeadows.

Mantynen said Church had been someone that had given them trouble when they played against him.

“He will take the heat off Brandon Coletta,” he said. “That was one area we felt like we fell down was across half-forward. Mitch has been good since he turned up.

“He lives around the corner and knows a lot of the guys.”

Raafat Rachrache joins the club from the Northern Football League. Mantynen said Rachrache wanted to repay the faith of the club, after initially looking to play for them 12 months ago.

Raafat Rachrache has joined Hillside. Picture Damian Visentini

Raafat Rachrache has joined Hillside.
Picture Damian Visentini

Sam Stephens is the other key signing. He’ll add another big body in the midfield.

Mantynen said while there was room for more signings they were likely to stick with the guys they already have.

“It would have to depend on whose name comes across,” he said. “We want to stick with the core group of players we have. There’s a lot of kids at the club who deserve a crack.”

Mantynen said there was a really good vibe at the club following the drafting of former junior Cameron Rayner.

Rayner was taken at pick one by the Brisbane Lions.

The Sharks will start their 2018 season against arch rival Taylors Lakes in the two side’s traditional Good Friday clash.