2006 RFL SEASON
Apr 2 LW (a) Apr 8 GGGM (h) Apr 23 CR (a) Apr 29 (MCUE (h) May 7 TP (a) May 13 EH (h) May 20 Rep May 28 NI (h) June 4 LW (a) Jun 18 GGGM (h) Jun 25 CR (a) Jul 1 MCUE (a) Jul 9 TP (h) Jul 16 EH (a) Jul 22 NI (a) Aug 6 LW (h) Aug 13 GGGM (a) Aug 20 CR (h) Aug 26 MCUE (h)
Finals - Sep 2 QF Sep 3 EF Sep 9 SF1 Sep 10 SF2 Sep 17 PF Sep 24 GF
Ladders Player Stats Record Swans Awards RFL Awards
Click on image to enlarge
IN: Joel Brown (Leeton-Whitton), Larry Cavallo (Merbein), Sam Hickleton (Bannockburn), Luke McLean (Newcomb Power), Daniel Meade (Deakin Uni), Tom Morgan (Bridgewater, SA), Dan O'Connor (Thomson), Nathan Petersen-Gray (Mt Lofty, SA).
OUT: Tim Birks (UK), Trent Bradley, Adam Brander (MDU), Adrian Burns (MDU), Mathew Crack (work), David Curran (Barellan), Jason Hampel, Nic Hetherington (Narrandera); Tom Morgan (South Aust.), Dan O'Connor (Thomson).
SWANS SIGN COACH - By Matt Malone
THE Griffith Swans have signed their new coach for the 2006 season - 2005 Victorian Country Football League medallist Luke McLean. McLean, 25, will have his first crack at senior coaching with the Swans, but will arrive in Griffith from Victoria with outstanding credentials as a prolific onballer. McLean spent 2005 with Newcomb Power in the Bellarine Football League, where he claimed the premiership, club best and fairest and best on ground in the grand final. With always having ambitions to coach, McLean can't wait to get started with the Swans.
"It's very exciting, I'm looking forward to getting here and meeting the boys," McLean. "I'm happy to get my chance at coaching, I've been an assistant coach since about 22 or 23, so it's good to get the opportunity."
Having seen the Swans in action through videos, McLean is happy with what he sees, but will still aim to bring players with him. "I've had a look at a couple of tapes and they look to be very young and enthusiastic,: McLean said. "We'll use a pretty simple game plan, work on the one percenters and play as a team. "I've been chatting to a few young fellas down here and some blokes are on footy trips, but I hope to bring a few players with me." McLean met with some of the Swans officials two weekends ago and was quite impressed.
"They were very professional," McLean said. "It seems like a good country footy club. And the competition seems like it's a pretty good standard, I'm hoping we'll be able to get back into the grand final." In something the current Swans can look forward to, McLean is big on fitness which he hopes to stamp into his new team. "I'm doing a fitness course at the moment and I want us to be fit, hard-running side," he said. After head-hunting McLean, Swans president George Duncan was thrilled to have signed the new coach.
"We're very happy, we've chased him for a while and we knew that he was talking to a few other clubs, so we're happy to get him," Duncan said. "Judging from his football resume, we're looking forward to some good stuff. "Now, hopefully, the locals can get behind and support him."
(The Area News - Wednesday November 2, 2005).
SINGH APOLOGISES TO SWANS - By Matt Malone
EIGHT months after star recruit walked out on the Griffith Swans, Balraj Singh admits he's sorry, regrets his actions and hasn't ruled out a return. The imposing centre-half-forward remarkably left the club after the Swans' first game and has since had time to think about the situation and wants to make things right. Singh arrived in Griffith just days out from the Swans' opening clash earlier this year amid plenty of hype and anticipation and the former Adelaide Crows didn't disappoint in his first showing.
But only days later, Singh left the Swans without notice and moved back to Melbourne where he spent the season with Mooroopna in the Goulburn Valley Football League, booting 63 goals in 15 games. Currently in Sydney, Singh said he was sorry for what he did to the Swans.
"I would sincerely like to apologise to the Griffith Football Club and especially George Duncan for what he had done to get me to Griffith," Singh said. "I dearly regret leaving there, especially when there was friendship involved with a few of the boys."
While in Melbourne, Singh admitted to following the Swans' results throughout the year and even blamed himself for Griffith not finishing as high as they would have liked. Singh has since learned from his mistake and hopes for forgiveness from the Griffith club.
"This incident will give me valuable experience for the future and keeps me in good stead for not repeating my actions to another club, unfortunately it was Griffith that it happened to," Singh said. "I wish the club all the best in future years and wish their new coach all the best in his first year of his coaching career ... I hope they get into the grand final, where where they should be with their outstanding local footballers and juniors coming through." As for the chances of Singh lining up with the Swans in years to come, only slight.
"Never say never but I don't think they would want me back anyway," Singh said. (The Area News - Wednesday November 9, 2005).
CHARITY TICKLED PINK OVER SWANS' FUNDRAISER SUCCESS - By Matt Malone
WHEN the Griffith Swans donned the pink guernsey for their home game against Coolamon late in the season, it had a lot of people laughing. But the Swans and the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group had the last laugh this week when the football and netball club handed over $3500 from the fundraiser. Over one busy weekend, the Swans were able to raise the funds through an auction of the Swans netballers' bums on a Friday night, walking the streets with buckets on the Saturday and a raffle at the footy on Sunday. Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group's Jan Newman said she was thrilled with the donation. "I'm ecstatic, it was such a wonderful day," Newman said. "It just shows again and again the generosity of the Griffith people." Ms Newman said the money would go towards those dealing with all kinds of cancer. "We supply people with wigs ... and provide support for people affected by cancer," she said. "And it's not only breast cancer it's all type of cancer." Griffith Swans treasurer Damien Scott thanked the community for making the fundraiser such a success. "We've now looking at making it an annual event," Scott said, on behalf of the Swans, thanked the Telstra Shop for sponsoring the event and providing them with their daring jumpers. All parties wished to thank Brad George who came up with the idea and promoted the event. (The Area News - Wednesday November 16, 2005).
MEDALLIST TO STAY A SWAN IN 2006 - By Matt Malone
THE Griffith Swans are working their way towards building a potentially premiership winning team after one half of their dynamic midfield duo signed on for another season. Jim Quinn Medallist Matt McDonald has agreed to terms with the Swans for the upcoming season, the prolific onballer staying true to the Swans after receiving strong interest from several prominent clubs. While one half of the duo signed the other, Mick Duncan, is unsure of what lies ahead for the upcoming season at this stage.
After weighing up his options, McDonald can't wait fr the exciting year ahead with the Swans. "To win the flag is going to be our first aim," McDonald said. "We've got what looks to be a pretty good coach and he's hoping to bring a few blokes with him. "He's (Luke McLean, coach) only 25 and has been playing some good leagues down in Geelong so it looks good for next season.
McDonald was targeted heavily from ACT Canberra club Queanbeyan Tigers, while he also received offers from Ovens and Murray clubs North Albury and Wangaratta. After being awarded with the Riverina Football League's best and fairest medal, McDonald knows more is expected of him. "It's put a lot of pressure on me, I'm now expected to perform to that level," McDonald said.
"There is going to be a lot of added pressure, this year especially, but I'm really looking forward to it." With the Swans expected to retain most of the team from season 2005 and add a few new faces from Victoria, McDonald believes they will be able to match it with the best.
"Ganmain are going to be the team to beat again," McDonald said. "They're picked up a few handy players and got a very good new coach so they're going to be the main danger. "But we're going to be able to give them a shake, we'll be in the top three easy."
While McDonald is locked away for another season, partner in crime Duncan is unsure of what he is doing. "I haven't worked out what I'm doing yet, I was considering playing in Cairns but (ex-Swan) an Ebert isn't coaching up there now, so that put a stop to that," Duncan said.
"I've spoken to a few clubs and I'm also considering going overseas. "'I've got more to work out what I'm doing personally before working out footy but I know I'll have to let the Swans know pretty soon." (The Area News - Friday December 2, 2005).
SWANS COACH PLANS PLAYER FITNESS DRIVE - By Matt Malone
NEW Griffith Swans captain-coach Luke McLean unveiled the club's new recruit upon visiting the city for the club's Christmas Party on Saturday night. McLean secured the services of versatile Geelong League Sam Hickleton for the oncoming season and both were impressed with what Griffith had to offer. Also visiting at the weekend were South Australian footballers from the Sturt Football Club, who McLean held talks with over the weekend. McLean refused to make any bold statements on where the Swans were heading this season but instead focused on building for the start of the season. "Obviously to win the flag is always your goal," McLean said.
"But I'm focusing on taking a professional approach and working towards solid fitness and working on our game plan. "I had a look at the draw, and we've got a good draw with a lot of home games at the start of the season which is a chance to gain some momentum.
Upon hearing the Swans near-perfect record at home last season, McLean was not shocked. "That didn't surprise me once I saw a nice big ground we've got," McLean said. "Along with the club on the wing there, the club has pretty impressive facilities. McLean held talks with both recruits from out of the area and unsigned current players and was happy with the result.
"We haven't signed the guys from Sturt but they were down here on the weekend and seemed pretty happy with the place." McLean said. "I had a chat with a few of the current guys who weren't sure what they were doing and hopefully they will be with us again."
Overall, after getting to know the players and the club a lot better, McLean was happy with what he saw. "It was a good weekend, we had a Christmas party which was good fun, and we played a few games," McLean said. "I came down and checked out the accommodation and had a look around. "I've been here before when I spoke to them last time, but I like the place and they seem to be a good bunch of people." McLean said he planned on arriving in Griffith on January 6 where he will start training the Swans a week later. (The Area News - Monday December 12, 2005).
SWANS FEATHERS FLY - By Matt Malone
NEW high-profile Griffith Swans netball coach Roz Fraser has come under attack amid claims she is driving players away from the club.
With Fraser residing in Wagga, the Swans A grade netball team will be training once a week in Narrandera along with pre-season gradings and coaching camps in both Narrandera and Barellan. Fraser, a state league coach from Adelaide, was a huge coup for the Swans and the signing was likened to Griffith signing "an AFL coach" for the football team.
In a letter to The Area News, a Griffith netballer slammed home the move to appoint Fraser and questioned whether the new coach is worth the hassle. The netballer, who wished not to be named due to the fear of making enemies at the club, said she was given a "rude shock" when she heard the travel required. "Correct me if I am wrong but I thought they were the GRIFFITH Swans," the letter read.
"If the new coach won't travel to Griffith every week, is she really worth it? "The Griffith Swans netball club isn't only about winning premierships - it is about having fun, cheering on the footballers, social events after the games and supporting the Griffith community."
Upon hearing of the letter on Monday, Fraser was shocked to hear of the comments and said she was only trying to help the Griffith Swans netballers. "I feel it a bit surprising there has been such an uproar," Fraser said.
"The thing is Griffith approached me to coach, I didn't approach them, the whole idea was to bring more experienced coaching to the Riverina. "I give 100 per cent for any club I coach and I'm disappointed that people are unhappy but you have to commit to training because A grade netball is about winning premierships." Fraser also said she was required to travel as well, not just the players and it was up to them from the beginning. "I work full-time and then have to jump in a car and travel to Narrandera to coach for two hours.
"I'm happy to do it but it's quite an effort," Fraser said. "I told Jodie (Landy) from the start that it was up to the girls to decide if they want to do it." Organiser of the netball coaches for the 2006 season, Jodie Landy, was upset that someone would question Fraser's appointment.
"Unlike the footy we can't afford to pay for coaches to come to Griffith," Landy said. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Griffith to have a coach such as Roz who is doing the majority of the travelling from Wagga and she's doing it for nothing."
(The Area News - Wednesday February 15, 2006).
NEW APPOINTMENT SHOWS AFL HAS GAME AT HEART IN MIA REGION - By Matt Malone
THE AFL has pledged its continuing support in the MIA with the announcement of Griffith Swans coach Luke McLean as its new development officer this week. In a strong show of commitment to the area, McLean will now take the role of the area's development officer in which he will work at promoting Australian Rules football at a junior level. Former Griffith AFL development manager Paul Habel said the appointment was a huge boost for the sport in the MIA and believes McLean couldn't be better suited for the role. "The thing we like about Luke is even though he is the Griffith coach, he has the development at heart," Habel said. "Luke really impressed through the interview process and is really keen to start getting involved. "The appointment is another strong show of our continuing commitment to the area where the game is very healthy." McLean will not only cover the Griffith area but also Narrandera, Leeton, Coleambally, Ardlethan and Barellan. The job is a 30-hour-a-week role which will see McLean attend South West football meetings and also have regular contact with Auskick co-ordinators throughout the region. McLean was thrilled to join the Southern AFL team and can't wait to get started. "I'm definitely looking forward to the chance to work with the kids and promote the game. It's an ideal job," McLean said. "At my previous club in Geelong I spent a bit of time helping out with Auskick and I loved it." "I hope to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the role especially with the (Sydney) Swans winning the premiership last season. It's an important time for the game in NSW." Habel said McLean will implement the AFL's school program and more so the AFL's intra-school program and co-ordinate that. The AFL has also created a five-hour-a-week job at Hay while another 18-hour-a-week position covering the Northern Riverina. McLean's appointment comes after previous development officer Eddie Sullivan decided to return to teachers college. (The Area News - Friday March 10, 2006).
SEASON PREVIEW - Matt Malone
WITH the Griffith Swans bowing out last season a lot earlier than expected, the hopes of Griffith Swans supporters are even higher this season with the signing of several good players. Unfortunately for the Swans, they're not the only club to bolster their playing ranks, with two-time reigning premiers Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong Lions, Leeton-Whitton Crows and Eastern Hawks all recruiting well.
Griffith has kept a low profile throughout the pre-season, and we won't fully know where they're at until the end of round two.
The Swans take on Leeton-Whitton away, then Ganmain-GGM at home and these two games will let us know how the Swans have come together. Ganmain-GGM will again be the team to beat and look likely to take out their third consecutive title with the addition of several good players. Former Jim Quinn medallist and AFL player Christin Macri has returned to the RFL to coach the Lions and is a big boost along with the signing of former AFLACT representative and Wagga Tiger Matt Rava.
While a lot of attention will be on Macri, Rava is a player to watch with the fit midfielder possessing the ability to tear the competition apart and is my early tip for the Quinn Medal. Our neighbours, Leeton-Whitton, have also gone on a pre-season signing spree but have opted for a Dad's Army instead of youth. With two former Sydney Swans they will be dangerous, but the Swans should be too good in the local derbies.
Eastern Hawks, on the back of a strong finish to last season, which included a 100-point flogging of the Swans in the last round, have also signed plenty of talent from AFLACT. They will be a danger. Coolamon has lost every man and his dog other than Matt Hard and they will struggle. Narrandera are in the same boat and won't reach the heights of their 2005 grand final appearances.
Turvey Park have recruited no-one and struggled last season, but with plenty to play for after the horrific accident of vice-captain Ben Harper, I believe they'll be a stronger side in 2006. Mangoplah have signed an impressive coach but will be no danger to the heavyweights.
The top four could be Ganmain-GGM, Griffith, Eastern Hawks and Leeton-Whitton. Griffith will need to be firing come the end of the season, especially if they want to be a chance of stopping Ganmain. (The Area News - Friday March 31, 2006).
McLEAN'S SWANS ARE READY TO SOAR - By Matt Malone
GRIFFITH Swans captain-coach Luke McLean is not putting too much emphasis on the scoreline in the opening two rounds of the Riverina Football League bu instead asking his squad for good performances. Griffith kick-off its 2006 season on Sunday with a clash against fierce rivals Leeton-Whitton Crows at Woodstock Oval, with plenty of excitement surrounding the game. Both teams will unveil new-look teams.
The Swans have had a quite build up to the season, with a win over Narranders before winning the consolation final at the Temora 15s carnival. Jim Quinn Medallist and new assistant coach Matt McDonald is expected to miss the first-round match while recruits Sam Hickleton and Tom Morgan are also in doubt. With plenty of expectations after 2005's wasted season, McLean believes the Swans are ready to fly.
"I think we're ready, definitely," McLean said. Everyone is coming along well, and everyone seems pretty fit. "I don't mind a quite lead up, there is no point doing the talking in pre-season - I'd prefer to do the talking when we play."
Leeton-Whitton is another team which has bolstered its playing stocks through the off-season with the signing of ex-Sydney Swans players Damien Lang and Craig Nettelbeck. McLean, playing his first game in the RFL on Sunday, is not quite sure what to expect from the Crows but knows it will be a challenge. "I don't know as much about them as I would like," McLean said.
"They've got some good players and with Damien Lang coming back, he'll be a handy player for them and I'm not sure whether Craig Nettelbeck is playing but he'll be good for them if he is." McLean said he won't be placing too much emphasis on the results of the first two weeks, but instead wants to see the team play a good brand of football. With the silly season over and his squad finalised for the season, McLean believes he has the team to match it with the best in the competition. "I think we've good group of blokes," he said.
One of the Swans' Victorian recruits, Dan O'Connor has headed back home and is unlikely to play with the team this season. "Dan's had to head home due to family reasons and will play down there for the start of the season," McLean said. "He hasn't said he won't be coming back, but it's probably unlikely that he will return, and I can understand that." (The Area News - Friday March 31, 2006).
SWANS NEED WIN, BUT NOT PANICKING YET - By Matt Malone
GRIFFITH Swans star Matt McDonald denies Griffith Swans have hit the panic stations, despite the club's poor start to the 2006 season. The Swans meet former high-flyers Coolamon at Kindra Park on Sunday with Griffith desperate to post their first win of the season after a disappointing start.
The former Ardlethan Star and reigning Jim Quinn medallist will play his 50th game for the club on Sunday as McDonald returns from injury for his first game of the season. The Swans have met tough opposition in the opening rounds of the season, going down to Leeton-Whitton before suffering a loss to Ganmain-GGM. But McDonald warned not to write the Swans off just yet and blatantly denied the team was in a state of panic.
"No, we're not at all, we had Luke (McLean) out in the first week and we've also had a few unavailable, so there no need to panic just yet," McDonald said. "We were disappointed with our loss to Ganmain but we had a couple of blokes out." The Swans will be significantly boosted by the return of McDonald and fellow key player Craig Conlan for the game along with the return of utility, Matt Kenny. Coolamon have been inconsistent so far this season after losing several players in the off-season.
The Grasshoppers lost to Turvey Park in the opening round of the season before bouncing back with a gutsy win over Mangoplah. The Swans found a short-term resolution for their forward line against Ganmain-GGM with recruit Sam Hickleton booting five majors, but McDonald said the problem was more related to delivery."Sam will play full forward and he went really well against Ganmain, especially in the first half," McDonald said. McDonald will still have to deal with his knee and will start in the forward-line. After moving from Ardlethan to Griffith four years ago, McDonald is thrilled with his time with the Swans. "The 50 games seems to be dragged out over a few years because of injuries but it means a fair bit to get there," McDonald said. (The Area News - Friday April 21, 2006).
SPORTS EDITOR BIDS CITY A FOND FAREWELL - On the BALL Matthew Malone
THE Griffith sporting community is a unique one. One like I've never come across before and I doubt I will ever come across again.
After almost two years here in Griffith, it's time for me to move on and head back to Wagga. I arrived in Griffith not knowing too much about the sporting scene, only that every time we came here for soccer, they gave us a hiding. What I soon found out was that it's not only soccer where the city excels, it's almost every single sport. Never before have I seen a place excel in so many sporting fields.
A quick check of the sporting ladders at the moment backs this up. The Group 20 ladder sees Yenda on top, with Griffith Black and Whites and Waratah Tigers holding third and fourth. Hanwood and Yoogali are dominating the North Eastern Soccer League, something they have done year after year. The Blacks are back, undefeated after five rounds and looking very hard to beat in this year's Southern Inland Rugby Union competition. And the Swans are fourth but slowly but surely climbing the ladder while the netballers sit on top in three out of the four grades. Griffith should also feel lucky to possess such a classy sporting complex in Exies Oval.
It's already a quality facility but the plans for the complex sounds like it's only going to get better and better and events such as NRL trial and Twenty20 we've had this year will keep on coming. As much as where I'm headed, Wagga, think they are the premier sporting city in the Riverina, Griffith continues to land the big sporting events, and this is a fitting reflection on your sporting community. One thing that I'm sure isn't to far away is a Griffith Sporting Hall of Fame. There are so many people here who contribute so much to Griffith sport and what better way to recognise them than a hall of fame. I could go on all day about this place but unfortunately all good things come to an end.
Thank you to all the readers, players, coaches, presidents, publicity officers, contributors and columnists for your help and understanding, without you guys the paper wouldn't be what it is today. I'd like to name you all individually but I'm sure you know who you are. And finally, to all the guys here at The Area News, thanks for all your support and friendship, I've had a ball. Until next time, look after yourselves.
(The Area News - Friday June 9, 2006).
SWANS TICKLED PINK
THE Griffith Swans will be out to do things on Sunday against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong at Exies Oval. The first will be to win the match and stay in touch with the front-runners in the Riverina Football League. Secondly, the Swans will be looking to raise as much money as possible for the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group. Spectators will be adjusting their eyes as a special pink jersey for Sunday's game will replace the Swans traditional red and white colours. The jersey switch, combined with raffles at the game, a variety night on Friday at the Exies Club, a bucket run up Banna Avenue on Saturday morning collecting donations and a charity kicking competition during half-time of Sunday's game are all part of the Swans fundraising efforts.
"It's a really great initiative and we hope people will throw as much money as they can afford towards the cause," Swans captain-coach Luke McLean said. "I hope lots of people can get out and really make a day out of it." The fundraising efforts are the brainchild of Swans committee member Damien Scott and local businessman Pat Pittavino, with the idea proving a worthy exercise on its conception last year.
Over $3000 was raised in 2005 and it is hoped that figure will be surpassed this year. While the Swans charitable efforts have occupied much of their time this week, McLean is well aware they will have to be sharp on the field this weekend. "It will be a tight game this weekend, and both sides are pretty evenly matched," he said. "This is a big game for us because we really don't want to slip out of the mix.
"We're looking for a big performance all around the ball, and our fitness has to play a big part in that," In their last hit-out before the bye, the Swans put on one of their most complete performances of the season with a 23-point win against a strong Leeton-Whitton outfit, but McLean said there is still room for improvement. "We're looking to improve about 5 per cent each week," he said. "If we can do that, if we can keep going at that rate, we should be hitting our straps at the right end of the season." (The Area News - Friday June 16, 2006).
CELEBRITIES KICK START FUNDRAISER
THE Griffith Swans exceeded their aims by raising just under $4000 for the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group last weekend during their "Pink Day" charity efforts. "We raised $1500 from the bucket run in town on Saturday morning, $1200 from the auction, $480 from the celebrity kicking competition and the rest from proceeds of the raffle at the game ion Sunday," Swans sponsorship director Alison Ward said. The kicking competition was one of the highlights of the drive with 16 local identities of varying ability competing. "Tony Delgigante from Noyce, Salmon and D'Aquino top scored with a perfect five from five goals kicked," Ward said. "Darryn Savage from McDonald's, Mark Harris from ANZ, Gus Lico from Griffith Exies, Ross Elliott from Danny's Store and Brad George from Star FM all scored four from five attempts and managed to kick six pointer from 50 metres out. "Brendan Catanzariti from Choice Home Loans and Doug Curran from A&G booted massive torpedo kicks, but they missed out on even getting a behind," she said. "The women were represented by Renae Wynne from WIN TV and Candice Marin from Bertoldo's Bakery and both of them slotted two-a-piece, with Candice managing to score from 40 metres out. "The biggest kicks of the day were from ex-Griffith Swans player Robert Harrington and The Commonwealth Bank's Richard Bligh, both of whom managed to successfully kick 60 metres out. "Roy Spagnolo from Roy Spagnolo and Associates along with Jeff Marin from First Accounting, Dennis Conroy from Country First Credit Union and David Alpen representing Casella Wines, all slotted two from five attempts. "We raised $480 with donations," she said. (The Area News - Wednesday June 21, 2006).
ASHLEY GARDNER TO PLAY HIS 50TH SWANS GAME
THE Griffith Swans will be looking to put last weekend's disastrous kicking display behind them when they tackle Coolamon away from home this weekend. The Swans were in contention up until three-quarter time against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong but continually missed in front of goal cruelled the home side. Not only will the Swans hope to stay in touch with the RFL front-runners, but will also have an added incentive for a win with Ashley Gardner playing his 50th game. "He's been a really good bloke to have around the club," Swans committee member Damien Scott said. "If anyone one of the committee ever needs a hand, he's always there to chip in." Ironically, Gardner played his first senior game as a 16-year-old against Coolamon in 2001 and Scott said his game had developed phenomenally since then. "He was originally a permanent full-forward reserve but he's worked on his game and clocking up 50 is a great result," Scott said. "He' now developed himself as a very potent attacking forward. "This year was his first year with a full preseason behind him and he's certainly seeing the benefits of that now. " But it is with some sadness that Gardner brings up the milestone as his grandmother passed away this week. "It's a very hard thing, but I'm sure all the boys will be getting around him this weekend," Scott said. (The Area News - Friday June 23, 2006).
SWANS COACH SIGNS NEW TWO- YEAR DEAL - By Will Gilroy
THE Griffith Swans have wasted no time in re-signing captain-coach Luke McLean to a new two-year deal. McLean's contract was extended from his initial one-year deal, and the Swans said it was McLean's on and off-field commitment to the club that sealed his future with Griffith. "We did our homework early and made sure we got him early," Swans president George Duncan said. "He has performed on and off the field.
"He's brought in some new training procedures and methods from back home in Geelong and he seems to be making training enjoyable for the boys." Still in his first year at the club, McLean has made an obvious impression with his peers and fans alike.
He said he was pleased with the decision and can now shift his focus to implementing further goals, namely those involving junior ranks at the club. "The club has been right behind me," McLean said. "I'm not walking on seashells now that I may have been with a one-year deal. "I'm looking for the younger boys to take more responsibility, whereas previous coaches seemed happy to do what they wanted." McLean hinted that he would use his contacts from back home in Geelong to try and lure more up-and-coming stars to the club.
(The Area News - Wednesday June 28, 2006).
SWANS RECRUIT PETERSEN-GRAY KEY TO LIMITING HAWKS STAR
GRIFFITH will be placing their faith in star recruit Nathan Petersen-Gray to shut down RFL leading goalkicker Ben Perkins in the blockbuster clash at Gumly Oval on Sunday. With just six rounds remaining until finals, Griffith and Eastern Hawks will battle it out for third spot.
Swans captain-coach Luke McLean was impressed with his team's last three quarters against Turvey Park last Saturday and is still confident his team can be a major player come finals. After Petersen-Gray got the better of the Hawks' star goal kicker in their earlier meeting this year, McLean has high hoped the former South Australian can lead the Swans to victory again.
"It's going to be pretty important that we stop Perkins so Nathan will probably play on him again and I think he can do the job," McLean said. "He's a confident young fella and is definitely good enough to play on him. "But no matter how good Nathan is, we're got to help him by putting pressure on their midfielders and they're delivery to Perkins."
The Swans yet again this season have struggled away from home and McLean is keen to try and find the reason behind the Swans' inconsistent form. After trying several different ways of travelling to away games this season, McLean has this week chosen to invite players' partners, netballers and supporters all on the one bus. "We've got a bus for everyone at the club this week, players, reserve grade, girlfriends, everyone," McLean said. "Hopefully it will work and just make us a little more settled.
"This weekend is going to play a big part in where we finish, we're got a good run home, but it is important to us to win this game." McLean said he was happy with the return of Rod Duncan who has been playing well off the half-back flank after a long stint on the sidelines.
(The Area News - Friday July 14, 2006).
SWANS DUO TO AIM FOR HIGHER HONOURS - By Will Gilroy
TWO leading Griffith Swans players have been rewarded for their superlative form this year with selection in the New South Wales Country AFL side for the up-coming Australian football championships. Mick Duncan and Nathan Petersen-Gray are part of a 24-man squad that will fly to the Gold Coast tomorrow and complete in the two-tiered round-robin event against Western Australia, ACT, Victorian country, Queensland, a combined Aboriginal side and even a team from New Zealand.
While this weekend offers both players a tremendous opportunity to show their wares against some of the most talented bush football players in the country, the journey to make the final squad has been an arduous one. "They first picked a 57-man squad and then that was cut to 45, then to 30 and now to 24 and we've been training every second week in Culcairn," Duncan said. "It should be a good experience and maybe open a few doors to play at a higher level."
While Duncan, 23, has played all his football for Griffith, Petersen-Gray's selection is a reward for a phenomenal debut season.
The 20-year-old, who has a strong history of representative football, this year moved from South Australia for work reasons but has fitted into the Swans with immaculate ease. "I've played for the South Australian under-18's before I moved here, " he said.
"It's a good competition here, maybe not as strong as South Australia but I'm enjoying it." Both said they are aiming for selection in the combined Australian side that i picked from the best players over the weekend, but competition for that will again be fierce.
"There's a couple of ex-AFL players that will be playing this weekend," Duncan said. "Michael Stevens who used to play with North Melbourne is playing for Victoria country team and Darryl White, the duel premiership winner with Brisbane, is playing for the combined Aboriginal side." While Duncan and Petersen-Gray will play for higher honours this weekend, they are well aware the Swans are locked in a battle to remain in contention to qualify for the finals in the Riverina Football League.
The Swans are sitting precariously in fourth position on the ladder on 28 points, only ahead of fifth-placed Turvey Park on percentage and just one win ahead of Narrandera. "We've had a few players out with injuries ... but we haven't bee able to put four quarters together all year and until we do that we can't be thinking about a top-three spot," Duncan said. (The Area News - Wednesday July 26, 2006).
TALENTED MICK DUNCAN WINS BEST AND FAIREST AWARD
The Griffith Swans football and netball sides handed out their best and fairest awards yesterday, with Mick Duncan named the Swan's first grade side's best. Craig Conlan finished runner-up, while he also was the side's leading goal scorer. In reserves Norm Campbell was best and fairest, while Gary Argus was runner-up and leading goal scorer. In the under 18's Andrew Chalmers won best and fairest, Trent Harrington was runner-up and Kris Hicken was the leading goal scorer. In the Swans' netball awards Caryl Stuckings won A grade's best and fairest award, while Karen Conlan was runner-up. In B grade Emma Heenan was named best and fairest, while Alison Ward was runner-up and in C grade Peta Argus won best and fairest, while Louise Martin was runner-up. In the Swans' junior side Annaliese Jones was best and fairest, while Ashley Tyndall was runner-up. (The Area News - Monday August 28, 2006).
FINAL IS SUDDEN DEATH BATTLE - By Will Gilroy
GRIFFITH captain-coach Luke McLean insisted tomorrow's home-ground advantage against the Eastern Hawks in the Riverina Football League sudden death semi-final would count for nothing. The Swans boast one of the most impressive home records in the competition and have enjoyed great success against the Hawks at Exies Oval in recent times, but McLean said when it comes to finals football both sides were on a level playing field. "I think with finals footy both teams will come out with all guns blazing," McLean said.
"For us we need to come out firing and we have to treat it like a final because the ground alone is not going to do it for us."
The decision by the Griffith Ex-Servicemen's Club to buy the game could be a major blessing as the Swans aim to wear down their much bigger opponents, however it has not pleased some, particularly Eastern Hawks coach Pat Gribble.
During the week Gribble attacked the RFL's decision to let the game come to Griffith and said he might even consider making a journey twith his players today in order to better prepare for the final. Irrespective of the Hawks plans and Gribble's assertions of the difficulty of winning at Exies, the Swans will still have to be on their guard. Last time the two sides met in July, the Swans blew a 50-point lead midway through the second quarter and the Hawks eventually claimed a 14-point win.
But the game was in Wagga. The Swans' record at home is imposing and a key part to the success is that the Exies ground suits their play perfectly. Regarded as one of the larger playing surfaces in the competition, the ground allows the Swans to fully capitalise on their expansive, running-dominated game and this is where McLean suggested his side had the advantage over the Hawks.
"On Sunday we used the ball well ... but no individual can win a finals game, teams do," McLean said. "We're a bit quicker across the ground and they're bigger and slower side, so hopefully we can use the big ground.
"It probably suits us while the Eastern Hawks rely on kicking it big to their full-forward ... we rely on running it a bit more."
(By Will Gilroy - The Area News, Friday September 8, 2006).
SWANS FLYING HIGH AFTER A, B & JUNIOR GRADE NETBALL PREMIERSHIP WINS
The Griffith Swans A grade netball side won their first premiership in five years when they overcome a determined Coolamon side by 10 goals, 48-38 in yesterday's Riverina Netball League grand final at the Narrandera Sportsground. The Swans managed to overcome a sluggish start and punished Coolamon for any poor decision making in the second half. Down by three goals at quarter time, the Swans than rallied in the second quarter to generate a six-goal turnaround at half-time. They then stretched their advantage in the second half as they assumed utter control of the game. "They have such a great attitude and with all of the work and travel they put in's nice to see them come together and this is a big achievement," coach Roz Fraser said. "They learnt to solve their own problems on the court and don't wait for me to fix it up for them." At half-time, Fraser said she made some crucial changes that seemed to alter the tempo of the game. Clare Irvin, who offered the side an injection of class and speed, replaced Laura Vardanega at wing defence. "Laura was great at wing defence and Clare gave us some extra presence on the ball and we pulled away a bit," Fraser said. "They say the third quarter is the premiership quarter and we put the pressure on them. "Karen Conlan was named MVP and shot really well and Robyn Overs, particularly in the last quarter, pulled in a few one per cent plays." Fraser emphasised the significance of the win because the A grade team put in throughout the year, Throughout the season the team had to travel to Narrandera for training and even travelled to Wagga for additional sessions.
Griffith Swans B grade player Renae Rawle said the team's ability to maintain a "level head" was the foundation of their grand final win against Coolamon. The Swans fought back after an uncharacteristic first quarter to edge out Coolamon 33-30 and exact revenge on the side that beat them in last year's decider. "Everyone did their job and nobody panicked," Rawle said. After the first quarter, Louise Hornery was switched from wing attack to wing defence, while Michelle Rosenboon was moved to wing attack. "Coolamon beat us last year and the way we maintained our level of play was astounding," Rawle said. "Everyone gave 100 per cent and we couldn't have done it without everyone doing their part." Not only did the Swans have to contend with a notoriously hard opposition in Coolamon, but in the past month they lost key players Emma Heenan and Alison Ward to serious injuries.
Griffith's C grade netballers found a seven-goal first-quarter lead to hard to overcome by Turvey Park by four goals, 26-22. The C grade side was outplayed by Turvey Park but coach Alison Ward said it was still their best performance of 2006. "They fought so hard but Turvey Park were extremely good and that was probably our best game all year," Ward said. "Ashley Rossetto moved to wing attack, Kate Toscan went to goal attack and Gemma Jones went went to goal shooter but we didn't change the defence and they played very well. "Turvey Park play together on Saturdays and are fairly experienced, while our side is quite young." Ward said the shining light of the side was Louise Martin who continually pressured the opposition. "She took some flying intercepts and got some good turnover balls," Ward said. "We made the grand final, and for the first time in history all four grades had made it."
Griffith' junior Swans scored the club's first grand final win of 2006 when they scrapped home against Narrandera by the barest of margins 20-19. At one stage down by seven goals the young Swans fought back with great nous and once they wrestled the lead from Narrandera they did not relinquish it. "The girls never gave up ... and they got the lead in the last quarter and it was a bit harrowing," coach Louise Hornery said. "They all put in a great effort and Ashley Tyndall in centre was very good and kept control of the ball. "Annaliese Jones was good in goal attack and she was very quick and shot very accurately. "It was a big lead in netball but it was only two or three turnarounds and the girls got together and kept their heads and said 'we still want this'." "I'm very proud of them and they worked very hard and played with great spirit." (The Area News - Monday September 25, 2006).