Melton finds itself in an unusual place heading into this year’s Ballarat Football League season.
After last season making finals for the first time in 11 years, and a grand final for the first time since 2005, the Bloods will enter 2019 as one of the favourites, not as a challenger.
Bloods second year coach Aaron Tymms said he was pleased with how the playing group had returned.
“I was a little bit worried,” he said. “But it’s been player driven during the pre-season so far which is really good.
“Most have come back and have been pretty good about it.
“There’s a bit of expectation on us this year and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.
“We have to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward, as it looks like the whole competition has got better.”
It has been a quite time on the recruiting front for the Bloods, with the club backing the group in.
Only Brock McGregor, who has moved to Moama for work, has left from last year’s grand final team.
Tymms said they had spoken about McGregor commuting each week, but that didn’t work out.
“It’s been pretty quiet, as you’re usually out there recruiting, but we’ve been able to retain most of the guys.
“Part of the deal of me coaching again, I would only do it if most of the group signed up.”
The Bloods have added a bit more experience to the group as they plan to take the next step.
Shaun Campbell, Anthony Hibbert, Dyson Stevens and Tom Robinson have joined the club.
Tymms said Campbell and Stevens were great catches.
Campbell was most recently coaching the Wagga Tigers and claimed the Central Highlands Football League best and fairest award in his one year with Ballan in 2015.
Stevens, who was aligned with the Bloods in 2016-17 while playing VFL with the Northern Blues, comes to the Bloods from Deer Park.
“Shaun and Dyson are big for us, especially Shaun,” he said.
“He’s coached before as well and hopefully that will help.”
The Bloods headed away on a training camp at the weekend and will play three practice matches against Buninyong, Ocean Grove and Strathmore before the season gets under way.
It’s a big year for the Bloods as the club celebrates its 140th anniversary.
The club will also field a women’s side for the first time.
The Bloods kick off their season on April 13 against arch rival Melton South.
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