Melton South has received a shock boost with a third VFL player moving to the club full time for this year’s Ballarat Football League season.
Having already secured Port Melbourne duo Ryan Pendlebury and Shannen Lange, the Panthers have signed forward Dylan Conway.
Conway, who has also been playing for Port Melbourne, has had Melton South as his home club the last two years.
In that time he has played eight senior games for the Panthers.
Panthers coach Heath Pritchard said Conway was originally going to continue his VFL career.
He said they were thrilled to have him full time at the club.
“He is a proven player in this league,” he said.
“I got a call from him saying things had changed. He’s just had a baby and runs his own business and struggling to get to training three times a week.
“He’s good friends with Shannen and Ryan and wanted to play with them again.”
Pritchard, who was a runner at Port Melbourne before taking on the Panthers coaching role, said that Conway’s stat of 37 goals in his time for the Panthers, doesn’t show his true impact in his time at the club.
He said one of their areas of concern last season had been in the forward line and they hoped that Conway would help with that.
They also expected Aaron Clarke, who is on Coburg’s VFL list, will play some games after spending last year in the NAB League.
Michael Callus has returned to the club and also expected to be part of a new look forward line.
Pritchard confirmed the signing of Lange, who has been training with the side throughout the pre-season.
Lange, who finished equal fourth in the VFL best and fairest the Liston Medal, last year, retired from VFL after deciding his opportunity to play at a higher level was over.
Like Conway, he had been aligned with the Panthers already.
Pritchard said he would play in the midfield at the Panthers.
Pendlebury will play a key role in defence alongside Daniel Leggett and Sam Hurst.
Daniel Walker has also joined the Panthers from cross town rival Melton and is expected to add a bit.
Pritchard said the club’s decision 12 months ago to become a home club for several VFL players had already paid off.
There’s still another three players on VFL lists who are aligned to the Panthers.
On the other side, Melton South has kept most of their list, having only lost Paul Bower and Lachie Watkins.
“Paul is a big loss, he was our best and fairest winner, but we think we have more than covered him,” he said.
“Lachie didn’t play a lot of footy for us last year, so we didn’t really have him.”
With the inclusion of some top end talent, Pritchard said they were hoping to be more competitive this year.
He said they wanted to start bringing more enjoyment to the club and the fans.
The Panthers finished bottom for a second straight season.
“We realise that we are coming from a long way back,” he said. “We’re not going to be making big statements.
“We want to be competitive and then you can start winning games of football.
“The blokes we’ve added into the side, we think will help make us competitive.
“It all looks great on paper, but it doesn’t matter until you start playing footy.”