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IN: Robert Bridgen (Ardlethan), Ryan Bull (Coleambally), Chris Forwood (Barellan), Jason Hampel, Brenton Harrison (Camden), Brock Harrison (Noorioopna, SA), Peter Hunt (Barellan), Dean Jamieson (Ardlethan), Zach Lewis (Deakin Uni), Jason Malone, Phillip Rowston (Barellan), Jarred Wilson (Blighty).

OUT: Gary Argus (Hillston Swans), Matthew Bunn (Hillston Swans), Ashley Gardner (Mulwala), Sam Hickleton (Geelong), Ryan Hill (Lockhart) Tim Matheson, Nathan Petersen-Gray (Mt Lofty, SA); Brock Harrison (Noorioopna, SA), Jarred Wilson (Blighty).



GRIFFITH Swans captain-coach Luke McLean says the club has the player depth to cover for the shock departure of two of its biggest stars. Talented centre-half back Nathan Petersen-Gray and rover Mick Duncan, both of whom are NSW Country representatives, are set to leave the Swans in an exodus that could leave the 2006 Riverina Football League semi-finalists reeling. Petersen-Gray returned to his home in Adelaide earlier in the month, while Duncan said he should move to the Gold Coast around Christmas. McLean said the departure of the two players was a "big loss", but was confident the Swans' younger brigade could cope without two of the most consistent performers in the RFL this year. "I'm sure we can fill the void somewhere and I think we can re-fine our game plan a bit," McLean said. One possible move would be for McLean to use his influence in his native Geelong to try and attract some gun recruits. After a brilliant debut season with the Swans, Petersen-Gray looks to have played his last of his football in Griffith. The 20-year-old is chasing a job in a mine near Port Headland in Western Australia and he said if he lands that, any speculation of a possible return to the Swans next year would be quashed. Returning to Griffith is not out of the realms of possibilities ... I find out at Christmas time but I don't think I'll play next year if I get the job," Petersen-Gray said. "I really enjoyed my time in Griffith and met a great group of friends." Duncan, 24, has already been in talks with two Queensland (QAFL) clubs - Broadbeach and Southport - and is looking for a sea change after enjoying a week on the Gold Coast this year with the NSW Country team for the Australian Country Championships. Duncan has family in the area and said he would like to continue his trade as an electrician. However, he said the door was still open for a return to the Swans next year, but with one condition. If (Petersen-Gray) comes back, then I'll come back," Duncan said. "I told him that at the presentation night if the footy club can get him back then I would. "I want to play 200 games for the Swans, I'm on 120 so I've got 80 to go so whether that's in the next couple of years or in five we'll see." (The Area News - Wednesday October 18, 2006).



THE Griffith Swans football and netball club held their annual general meeting last Wednesday night. There was a good attendance of Australian Rules enthusiasts. The balance sheet presented found the club's financial position being satisfactory, but unforeseen happenings, declining sponsorship revenue and not being helped by the ongoing drought conditions, all played a part in the loss of $9336 for the past 2006 season. George Duncan and Ian Wade, both old football identities of the Griffith club, were elected unopposed for a fourth term in their respective positions of president and vice-president. 2006 season RFL netball president Alison Ward was elected as secretary, replacing Ffiona Beverley, who returns to her old role of treasurer. The directors are Alison Ward and Darryn Savage (sponsorship), Kate Toscan and Myles Bunn (fundraising), Robert Harrington (football), Brenda Spears (catering), Bob Spears (recruitment), Janet Harrington (netball liaison), and Terry Potroz (junior Swans liaison). The general committee is Graham Foley, Louise Hornery, Peter Knox, Ernest and Sue Wade. Club president George Duncan assured all general committee members they are more than welcome to attend meetings and would not be left in the dark as they all work for the football club and have the right to know what is going on. Ian Wade endorsed Duncan's gesture, saying "the more the merrier." Regarding new recruits for the coming season, a cautious Duncan announced the club was still looking around and had talked to four or five players but at this early stage, someone was yet to sign on the dotted line. The next general meeting will be held on Tuesday November 21 at the main Ex-Servicemen's Club boardroom at 6pm. (The Area News - Wednesday November 1, 2006).


GRIFFITH'S premiership winning A grade netball coach Roz Fraser has left the Swans after just one year at the helm. Fraser will return to coach Leeton-Whitton Crows for next year's Riverina Football League netball season - a team she took to the grand final in 2004. Fraser said she only intended to coach Griffith for one year if the Swans won the A grade crown. "When I joined Griffith in the first place I told them I would be here for one year, but I'd see how things went, and the aim was to get the premiership and we did," Fraser said. "I'm not going to cut all ties with the Swans, it's not my personal - I just need to do this for myself." The move also means Fraser will no longer coach the Griffith under 17 representative side. Instead, she will take over the Leeton team. But she insisted she would be prepared to facilitate a training run between the two sides before next year's state championships. Fraser's defection has left the Swans searching for a suitable replacement to bolster their playing roster, as well as looking for a new coach. Talented junior Erin Patterson, who figured prominently for the Swans A grade team last season, decided to follow her mentor to the Crows next year. The 16-year-old said the chance to learn under Fraser for another year was too good to slip. "I'd like to stay but I want to keep developing my game," Patterson said. At the core of Fraser's decision to rejoin the Crows was some "unfinished business" dating back to 2004 grand final, when Leeton-Whitton lost the grand final to Turvey Park. In addition to luring Patterson, Fraser has secured the services of Manngoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes' player Michelle Lumsden for next year. Fraser said despite her absence, she expected the Swans to continue their strong form, which this year saw then take out the A and B grade and junior grand finals. (The Area News - Friday December 8, 2006).


GRIFFITH AFL community is wishing former star player Ben Wade all the best after he suffered terrible head injuries in a freak accident in South Australia last week. Twenty-one-year-old Wade, who won the Swans' best and fairest in 2004 in his second year with the seniors, was working as a plumber in the Adelaide suburb of Largs North last Wednesday morning when a trench collapsed on him. It is believed Wade hit his head when he tried to jump out of the way and was then buried up to his chest. It took emergency services 40 minutes to dig him out, by which stage he had lapsed into unconsciousness. He was rushed to Royal Adelaide Hospital and spent the Christmas period in an induced coma. Swans president George Duncan said everyone involved with the club was thinking of Ben and his parents, Ian and Barb, who immediately flew to Adelaide following the accident. The Wades are a huge part of the footy club and Ben was a great player for us," Duncan said. "He moved to South Australia at the end of 2004 to play with Glenelg to try and break into the big league." Former team-mate Damien Scott said surgeons operated on Wade last week to relieve the pressure around the brain. "He started to wake up in the last few days and has been cooperating with his doctors," Scott said. "Apparently he even wanted to get out of bed ... he's showing positive signs. "He's young and fit so he has the best chance of recovering." Scott said Wade's parents had been "overwhelmed" by the level of support from the Griffith community. "People have been asking if there's anything they can do, and calling and texting," he said. "We're all just hoping he can make a good recovery." Scott said Wade was doing well at Glenelg, a leading team in the South Australian National Football League, and had been appointed vice-captain of the reserves. A Royal Adelaide Hospital spokeswoman yesterday confirmed Wade condition had come out of his "sedated state" and was now in a stable condition. (The Area News - Friday December 29, 2006).


THE Griffith Swans have two new faces in the coaching ranks this year. Gerard Toscan and Roger Heenan have taken the roles of under 18's and reserve grade coaches. Toscan is stepping into the role as under 18's coach after being associated with the club for many years and said he had always wanted to be more involved. "I am a past player and I have wanted to be more involved for a while, but my son was in the team and didn't think it was the right time," Toscan said. "Now he's gone up I'm looking forward to it. "I want to get their skills up individually and try and help some of the guys have a go at seniors. "And to win more games than we lose - that's my goal this year." Heenan has taken on reserve grade and said he wants to see the squad go a step further than last year, when it was knocked in the first round of the finals. Heenan will be a playing coach. "I want to get them working really well as a team, not a few guys really pushing and the others lagging," he said. "But I think we will be all right; there are already quite a few interested to play and I am just looking forward to the season. (The Area News - Wednesday January 17, 2007).



GRIFFITH president George Duncan said Wagga Tigers' imminent return to the Riverina Football League could be advantageous for the Swans' title chances in 2007. The Tigers members met last night to decide whether the club would seek re-admittance to the RFL or continue playing in the ACT-Canberra competition. Duncan said if the Tiger returned a positive vote to join RFL less than five years after their original switch, the Swans' travel schedule would decrease considerably. "I think it would be a good move for the league going to nine teams," Duncan said. "Another team in the competition means we play some teams twice and others three times, and that would stop the excess travel for some of us. " On Thursday, Duncan said he had "a gut feeling" that the Tigers' would return to the competition, but did not want to speculate about how the club would vote. In ACT-Canberra, the Tigers first grade struggled to replicate its dominant RFL form against the cashed-up Canberra clubs. "Obviously they've got their reason but I'm not tied up in that," Duncan said. Duncan said the Tigers' members chose to return to RFL, he was unsure of whether they could hit the ground running. The Tigers have suffered significant losses recently, particularly as the reserve grade side launched an unsuccessful push to enter the Farrer League and merger with Wagga club, Rivcoll. "They've had great success in the past but who's to say Ganmain might dominate for four years and think of going and be brought back down to earth. (The Area News - Friday February 2, 2007).


GRIFFITH will rely on the rotation of several small forwards to help bridge the gap after yet another three players left the Swans' nest for the upcoming Riverina Football League season. Key forwards Sam Hickleton, Ash Gardner and Gary Argus have all left Griffith over the past month, leaving the Swans without a designated full-forward for the new season. Hickleton, Gardner and Argus all played full-forward for Griffith last season with varied levels of success. After moving to Griffith with coach Luke McLean, Hickleton has moved back to Geelong while Gardner has ended his lifelong association with the Swans by moving to Mulwala. Argus meanwhile, who was recalled into the first grade line-up for the Swans ' finals campaign, has accepted the coaching position at Northern Riverina League club Hillston. Despite also losing stars Mick Duncan and Nathan Petersen-Gray for next season, McLean is confident the Swans can overcome the player loses. "We'll look at rotating Craig Conlan and James Toscan at full-forward," McLean said. "As long as we can move it quickly to them it should work ou well. "One on one they are quick out on a lead, and given we use the ball well when delivering it to them it should work well." The Swans have been training for several weeks now with consistent numbers in the mid-20s turning up to each session. Despite no recruits to speak of yet, McLean said Griffith was still on the hunt for potential signings. "We've got reasonable numbers, we're still trying to get a few players but it's a bit quite at the moment," McLean said. "We've go a few maybes but nothing concrete yet." (The Area News - Friday February 2, 2007).



OKAY, I confess. A couple of weeks ago when Collingwood played the Kangaroos at Carrara in their round one clash of the NAB Cup, I was hoping for a loss. There it is in print ... Okay! Sure enough, Collingwood lost and this week my beloved Pies will make the trek to Narrandera to play the Sydney Swans as part of the NAB Regional Challenge. Collingwood mid-fielder Tarkyn Lockyer this week asked: "where is Narrandera?" I can tell you where that Narrandera is all systems go for tonight clash of the AFL titans. Collingwood, steeped in tradition against the pride of NSW, the Sydney Swans. Be warned footy fans, there will be a few fresh faces as both teams will tinker with final team settings before the season proper later this month. It will be the return of Anthony Rocca, and the buzz at the moment following a long flight in a small plane will find Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley in the coach's booth alongside Mick Malthouse. Sydney fans will see tonight their latest edition to the flock Peter "Spida" Everitt from Hawthorn, among Sydney big guns Barry Hall, Adam Goodes, and almost local Brett Kirk from Albury. These teams only played against each other three weeks ago, where the Swans won in Sydney by 15 points.

Tonight will be a game of "footy chess" as both coaches will be switching the players and trialing strategies with fresh faces. No matter the result, this is a major win for football in the Riverina. It's an absolute credit to all involved in Narrandera and the public will vote with their feet with an expected 10,000 strong crowd, a figure that will annihilate the poor showing in Canberra for the Sydney v Western Bulldogs game a few weeks ago. Auskick kids I'm sure will treasure many memories of kick-to-kick with Paul Licuria, Josh Fisher or Michael O'Loughlin.

A word of advice for those looking to attend - get there early. The best position will be snapped up quickly and it will be a great day weather-wise, according the bureau it's going to be fine and warm. Another question I've been asked in the lead-up is whether Eddie McGuire will be there. Footy's a funny game and expect the unexpected. He might just fly in with the boys for a look. Either way, both teams will be fielding strong line-ups, and will look to impress, as all players look to solidify for round one competition. Finally, thank you to the AFL. The people of Narrandera, and both Collingwood and Sydney teams, I'm looking forward to a cracking display of footy at it's best ... A tip? Collingwood by heaps! Go Pies!  (The Area News - Friday March 9, 2007).



ON SUNDAY, the Griffith Swans will prove real men wear pink. The Swans will take part in one of the city's most visible and unique efforts as they aim to raise money for the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group. The club's first grade side will wear specially made pink jerseys for their match against Wagga Tigers at the Exies Oval, while there will be raffles, auction and a celebrity kicking competition to assist in raising funds on the day. Tomorrow, a bevy of Swans will hit the pavement on Banna Avenue armed with buckets and will be hunting down donations. Member of the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group, Jan Newman, hoped the community got behind the unique idea. "It started three years ago and it's getting better each year," Newman said. "We're grateful for anything they can raise. Local identity Brad George pioneered the concept in Griffith after his mother was struck down by the disease while he was living in Albury. "She had an operation three years ago and she's still kicking goals," George said. "The Breast Cancer Support Group supported her, looked after her and even gave me phone numbers if I needed any help." The day will kick off at 10am with the start of the under 18's game and the celebrity kicking competition will be on at half-time of the Swans and Tigers match, which starts at 2.15pm. (The Area News - Friday May 11, 2007).


IN 1982 followers of Australian Rules football witnessed some drastic changes to the structure of football in the Riverina when the VCFL Boundaries Commission reorganised the then South Western District, Farrer and Central Riverina Leagues. The new reconstructed league, the Riverina Football League, comprised eight former SWDFL clubs Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera, Ardlethan, Ariah Park-Mirrool, Coolamon, Turvey Park and amalgamated Ganmain and Grong Grong-Matong clubs, plus the addition of Wagga Tigers, North Wagga, East Wagga-Kooringal (Farrer) and Barellan (Central Riverina). Unfortunately for die-hard Griffith Swans supporters, the changes could not have come at a worse time. Off-season departures of many prominent footballers including Bruce Thomson (Tocumwal) and Ian Geddes (Barellan), and financial woes had the club close to crisis point. Things were not to improve when Griffith started off the season with six consecutive losses, including a 62-point drubbing by RFL minnow, Barellan. Clearly, however desperate Griffith's situation might be, there was still one reason for not abandoning all hope for the season - a chance meeting with good old rivals, Leeton. The Redlegs were to fire the first shot in the local derby at the Ex-Servicemen's Oval on Sunday, May 16, when they rejected a Griffith move to play ace forward D