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IN: Casey Boye (West Wyalong-Girral), Tom Buckley (Bright), Che Jenkins (Waratahs, NT), Tim McMahon, Guy Orton (Waratahs, NT), Beau Runnalls (Waratahs, NT), Tom Webb.

OUT: Cameron Arnold, Peter Crawford, Shaun Curran (Barellan), Roland Finch, Ben Ford, Luke Humphries (West Aust.), Matthew Kenny, Alex Overs, Josh Whelan (Deniliquin Rams).


The Griffith Swans are still on the hunt for a full-time first grade coach despite the Riverina Football League season being only 86 days away. While every other club in the RFL has secured the services of an off-field leader for 2011, the Swans’ recruitment committee is still hitting the phones in desperate bid to lure a big name to the club. However, the club’s lack of success to date has not been without trying, with The Area News learning this week three top-line player-coaches had seemingly been on their way to Exies Oval before pulling out at the 11th hour. Griffith recruitment officer Gerry Toscan expressed his annoyance at the situation, but said the club was moving forward ahead of a season that looms as one of the club’s most important in the last decade, with Damien Scott named caretaker head coach and Mick Duncan as his assistant. As far as the coaching’s gone, it’s been very frustrating to have that many guys that have agreed and then wanting to agree later, but then they’ve said they’d changed their mind,” Toscan said. “Two guys were exceptional guys playing VCFL footy in Victoria, but they said the jobs they had were worth too much for their future long-term future.” While the cub’s search for a coach has so far been fruitless, a surge of new blood has been added to the ranks with James Toscan returning to the city (Griffith) after  after playing for Avondale Heights in the Essendon District Football League. “He’ll be handy for our side because he can play up forward a bit, and he can hold a key position down the back and he’s played on some big fellas down south,” Toscan said of his son’s return. “He can play in the midfield as a bigger on-baller because he’s put on a bit of bulk since he left Griffith, so he’ll be a handy utility for us.” Glen Snaidero also will pull on the red and quite this year along with Michael Johns, who returned to training this week after injuring his wrist 18 months ago. The only major loss for the Swans in the off-season is promising youngster Josh Whelan, who proved to be one of the finds of the year for Griffith. Club officials were hoping Whelan would add more depth to their big man ranks in 2011, but his return to Deniliquin means a place needs to be filled. However, Toscan said the club has a custom-made fit with exciting youngster Tom Buckley, who comes to the club from the Murray Bushrangers under 18s side. (The Area News, Friday January 14, 2011). 



A Scotsman walks into an Aussie Rules club and says … It sounds like a start of a joke, but Scott Simpson is serious about mastering a sport he knows very little about. In the pure clash of cultures the 29-year old Scot completed his first week of training with the Griffith Swans this week, and instead of corners and off-side traps, he’s been trying to wrap his head around hand-passes and marks. Having only been in Griffith since November last year, Simpson said he enjoyed what his first taste of a sport that only appeared on late night television in his hometown of Peterhead in the north-east region of Scotland. “It was brilliant I loved it, my hamstrings are pretty tight at the moment though, but I really enjoyed it,” Simpson said of his first training session. Normally the only place you hear Scottish accents in Griffith are on various soccer fields, but Simpson believed his previously used skills could help him smooth the transition. “Back home I played a fair few different sports basketball, boxing, soccer so this is kind of a new challenge to test himself,” he said. “But there are some basic skill movements you can take from basketball and soccer and I’ve done a lot of running in half-marathons and things like so, that will help hopefully. “But in saying that the coach Scotty (Damien Scott) was probably teaching me things they show seven-year-olds.” Simpson isn’t the first code-jumper from soccer to the Swans in recent years, with Hanwood Football Club star Jason Bertacco having a brief but successful stint at Exies Oval. While the two sports look very different, both soccer and Australian (Rules) football require excellent foot and eye coordination and the ability to find players in space and make themselves open for teammates. While he has got through his first week as a Swan, Simpson has already has given some meaning jibes by his new teammates, with some suggesting he might be more suited to “soccering” the ball off the ground. “I’ve given myself plenty of time to get used to things but the set up is pretty professional and the intensity was really good from what I’ve seen for this early in the year,” he said. “There hasn’t been too much grief from the boys yet but I’ve got a bit of ‘the ball’s not round’ from them. (The Area News, Friday January 21, 2011)  


THE Griffith Swans' search for a big name coach has finally come to an end, with the club signing Guy Orton as an assistant coach to head coach Damien Scott for the upcoming Riverina Football League season. Orton's signature ends what has been a frustrating off-season for the Swans, with several big name coaches slipping through their fingers at the last minute. But club officials said the 24-year-old is not a second choice player-coach, with his skills through midfield set to add depth to a side looking to improve to their horror 2010 season. Orton was in Griffith last weekend being shown around the club and the city, and after his inspection he said he was happy to sign on the dotted line. "I had a ball down there and the guys seemed really nice and the club came across really professionally," Orton said. "But I wanted to come back up here (Northern Territory) for a week to think about it but I'm happy to come down there." However, Orton will not join his new teammates until late March, with work commitments in Darwin meaning he is unable to train any sooner. But he will not arrive in Griffith short of a gallop, with the former representative star currently playing with the Waratah Warriors in the Northern Territory Football League. "I know it's hard to be starting at a club where I don't know many people, but having that weekend down there (Griffith) and meeting a lot of the fellas I'm a lot more comfortable with the move," he said. "Hopefully I'll be go through the midfield and being having a senior role there once the season gets going." Orton's influence on players is evident by the fact he likely to be bringing two Waratahs teammates to Exies Oval with him. "I only met one of the guys this year (2010) but he asked me a little while ago 'where are you going to play next year' and I told him I was thinking about going to Griffith and once I came back from my trip there he'd decided he'd come with me," Orton said. The player confirmed to don the red and white this year is Beau Runnalls, who is a small forward and equal leading goal scorer in the Northern Territory competition this season. (The Area News - Friday January 28, 2011).

 AFL’S GIANT LEAP FORWARD - By Scott Hazlewood 

History will be made tonight at Exies Oval with the debut of the region’s newest junior Australian (Rules) football club, the aptly-named Griffith Giants, taking huge steps towards becoming a recognised entity in the last year.  Officials have been counting down the days until the Giants debut in the South West Junior competition, with tonight’s clashes to be viewed with a great sense of achievement according to Junior Griffith Swans president Stephen Lewis. With months of work finally coming to fruition, Lewis said he was looking forward to finally seeing the teams take to the court and field respectively. ‘It’s brand new and because of that it’s really exciting ,” Lewis beamed. “When did the junior Swans start, 20 years ago? This is basically the same thing with the Giants club starting up.” 
Officials did have some apprehensions about whether they would be able to fill both Australian football squads but they evaporated when sign-ups sheets quickly filled earlier this year.  “Last year we had three junior football teams and one netball team and now we have six junior football teams and four netball teams for the season,” Lewis said.  “Our under 11s will be pretty strong this year but we’ve a little bit down in numbers in the under 15s, but we expected that. “We’re still trying to keep mates and brothers together, and I think we’ve achieved that because all of the coaches are happy with squads they’re been given. 
The Giants netball sides are also an important part of Griffith’s future according to Lewis, who said they attempted to make the teams as flexible as possible for potential players. “The main reason why we’ve gone to Sunday football and netball, we’ve not trying to cash with anyone else,” he said. “For example my two girls will play town netball on the Saturday and then play Swans or Giants on the Sunday so it’s the best of both worlds really.” (The Area New, Friday April 8, 2011).



GRIFFITH Swans coach Damien Scott said there is only one way for his side to go this Riverina Football League season, and that is up. Scott’s frank assessment comes ahead of the club’s massive home clash against the Turvey Park Bulldogs, with the first round game to give the club’s faithful an early indication whether their side will be rocks or diamonds this season. It has been a barren few years for the proud Griffith club, the 2010 wooden spoon not sitting well with officials. However, armed with a host of new players which has resulted in a renewed sense of belief for players and officials, the Swans will be out to take a bite out of the Bulldogs under light at Exies Oval. “The boys are really excited to get into the season, they’ve been training that hard and now they’re keen to get out there and get amongst it,” Scott said. “They’ve (Turvey Park) got a few departures because of retirement or whatever else and we’ve got some new players also it’s hard for us to tell how we’ll go.” New assistant coach Guy Orton has taken the reigns in several training drills this week after only touching down in the city (Griffith) recently, and from Scott’s point of view, he said his influence and insight at training has already made a marked improvement. “It’s certainly noticeable in the training’s Guy has taken recently, just having that different voice in their ear has lifted them and they’ve all gone up a notch, “he said. “So both him and Che Jenkins, who have come off their season up in Northern Territory, they’re full of running already and they’ve lifted the boys. “But as far as the new boys go, you buy a book under the proviso of the reviews it’s got, and sometimes you get half-way through it and you realise it doesn’t suit you but then you’re stuck with it, but that’s not the case with our new players that’s for sure.” Griffith will be hoping the first chapter this weekend is more of a thriller than a horror story, as they look to sprinkle their players across the field to give them more rotation options. Orton will start in the middle and look to link up with star Mick Duncan, with the pair looking to provide good service to new recruit Beau Runnalls, who will start in the forward line. (The Area News, Friday April 8, 2011).  


 SWANS GET INTO THE PINK OF IT - By Scott Hazlewood 

IT WOULD be fair to say that only now - Guy Orton, Tom Buckley and Beau Runnalls - can be called Griffith Swans after donnong the club's pink jerseys this week. The clubs newest recruits got used to the alternative cerise jerseys in the lead up to the club's annual pink day, which raised money for the Griffith Breast Cancer Support Group. Griffith's Janet Harrington said the club was busily readying themselves to again try and raise thousands of dollars for the support group, which helps local people through all aspects of their battle against cancer. "The AFL is very proactive in highlighting the issues of cancer, so they always ask the clubs to do a call-to-arms round for men's or womens's cancer," Harrington said. "But the Swans have been running our pink jumpers day previous to that and it's actually one of the support group's major fundraising events of the year. "We're going to have a few people up the street on Saturday morning doing the bucket run, which is normally a part of what we do, and people can donate there with a gold coin or more if the want." There will be continuous raffle running throughout the day at Exies Oval tomorrow. The day will be starting off on Exies Oval No. 2 where the junior Griffith Swans and Giants are taking on Coleambally and Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong. (The Area News - Friday May 27, 2011).


 AT THE CROSSROADS - By Scott Hazlewood 

THE Griffith Swans face a fork in the road of their Riverina Football League season, as they prepare to host a Wagga Tigers on Sunday hell-bent on revenge. Despite there being two months between the Swans and an RFL finals berth, club officials are desperate for the side to rediscover the form that saw Griffith win three of its first four games this year. Despite the red-hot start and at one stage finding themselves sitting in second, the Swans have come back to the pack and coach Damien Scott said his side needs to treat every game as if it is their last chance to secure a post -season berth. "It's a massive game for us this weekend, if we win then we pave our own way and if we don't win then we're relying on other results for us to get there, and that's something that I don't want to be doing," Scott said. "It is weird to be in this situation, it's a fact that if we don't win then it hurts us, but it's not the only fact because there's still a lot of football to be played and you never know what might happen with other teams and injuries. "But we're trying to be desperate in everything we do from now until the end of the season, but we're looking to step up to the plate this weekend and get over the top of the Tigers and then look at that top three place." Griffith were able to spring a surprise on the Tigers in round two as the rest of the competition was still trying to figure out what to make of the new-look Swans. Scott rejected the notion his side had lost the element of surprise this weekend, saying they have became a stronger outfit due to players returning from injury and a closer bond between new and existing players. "We went into that game in round two without two ruckman and we've got a couple of guys that will play on the weekend that weren't in that side in the first round," Scott said. "So we're a different side to what we were then, I think we're a stronger side that we were last time we played them. "And our ruckman that day, Jeff Mickan, we lost him to an eye injury in the second quarter. "So I think they'll be looking at us like 'well they only just beat us last time', but I have heard they have got a few new guys in their side." With Griffith's defence has been exceptional in recent weeks, Scott said he wanted to see an improvement in front of goals. Henry Delves is still unavailable for selection due to representative commitments, while Theo Valeri is still recovering from concussion sustained last weekend. James Fallon is tipped to play, but officials will only make the call once they see how his ankle pulls up from the team's final training. (The Area News - Friday July 1, 2011).



WHEN children were asked to pick partners for a junior Australian football coaching clinic at Exies Oval on Monday, there was an odd player out. Zac Roach looked to have drawn the short straw for a hand-ball drill, than was until Carlton legend Anthony Koutoufides stepped in to help the youngster a few pointers. And while Zac might be too young to remember the player known as "Kouta" at his peak, the 278-game veteran's presence in the city this week ticked all the promotional boxes for local officials. Koutoufides made his flying visit to Griffith to spread the word of the game that made him a household name, and said he liked what he saw for the game's future in the region. "It's good to get out in the community and met some fans of the game, of course we used to do it all the time when we were players, bit it's great to get here with the kids," Koutoufides told The Area News. "AFL is making in-roads (into other sports) I think, and from what I have been told the numbers at junior level here are growing so that's great to see." Koutoufides joked several of the younger players would not know who he was during their skills session, but the Griffith Swans senior squad certainly did, as they had some words of wisdom during their recovery session. Asked what he thought of the Blues' chances of winning the flag after their narrow loss to Hawthorn last weekend, Koutoufides said Carlton proved they can play with the best side in the competition, but still need to improve in order to win it all in 2011. "It was disappointing that they lost because I thought they would do better than that, but it was their first half that hurt them," he said. "In the second half they dominated the game, and if it was a bit longer who knows what could have happened? "But at the end of the day they lost the game and more than likely they won't finish in the four, but Hawthorn is a terrific team. "Carlton proved they can match the better sides, so they're getting there." Koutoufides also touched on the two new sides to the AFL scene in the Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, saying the Suns have had a disappointing season in some ways, given the level of talent on their roster, but he tipped them to improve quickly in 2012. The 1995 premiership winner also said the have not's in the AFL need to improve internally rather than seek help from the governing body. "It's more up to existing clubs to try and improve themselves, it's more up good management and them trying to get decent players so they can improve from the ground up," Koutoufides said. (The Area News - Wednesday August 24, 2011).



GRIFFITH is committed to "make every opportunity count" as it looks to jump Wagga Tigers tomorrow for the fifth and final spot in finals. The Swans enter the final round of the season equal with Tigers on points, but just 0.85 per cent separate the two teams on either side of the finals cut-off line. While Tigers host third-placed Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka at Robertson Oval, Griffith will take on fourth-placed Narrandaera at Exies Oval. Griffith coach Damien Scott concedes the final round could hardly have been scripted any better. "You couldn't get any more even," Scott said yesterday. "If the RFL had scripted this at the start of the year they would have thought 'wouldn't that be great'. "Also, the fact they've got three sides vying for second spot, it's a great finish." While Scott can appreciate the excitement surrounding such a finish, he remains focused o getting Griffith into fifth spot. "He and the Swans players are all over the scenario. "One side will be continuing on and one side will be having their Mad Monday," Scott put in. "We're fully focused on getting over the top of these blokes this weekend and trying to take the worry out of it. "All the guys are aware of the situation. We're talking about it like we win win on Saturday and staying positive that way. "We want to make every opportunity count." Narrandera scored a 23-point win over Griffith last time but it is a result that Scott takes confidence from going into tomorrow's game. "I thought we played particularly poor last time we played them," Scott said. "Since then we've added height with Brendan Giason, Henry Delves and Toby Blissett and we've got blokes who are in form. "It wasn't a case of playing top football and going down to them, we played particularly poorly and I think we might still have a bit shell-shocked from the week before against Ganmain. "I'd like to say we're going in with a totally different mind frame." (Daily Advertiser - Friday August 26, 2011).



When the Griffith Swans players filed into the change rooms at Exies Oval last Saturday, the air was thick with emotion. They had just learned their Riverina Football League season of redemption was over by the smallest possible margin, with just three percentage points separating from their first finals appearance in five years. As coach Damien Scott addressed the playing group about how far they had come in less than a year, a hand was raised in the corner of the room. It belonged to Jeff Mickan. As if reading his mind, Scott said that he didn’t accept what he was about to say. But what Mickan had on his mind had been nagging him for the best part of three months, and he had to get it off his chest – he was retiring. 
“No one said they thought I was going to,” Mickan told The Area News this week. “I think it’s just the case of they have played with me for a while, they didn’t think I’d do it.” “I was going to give it up regardless what happened at the weekend, but it would have been nice to play a couple more games.”  
Having been a friend and teammate for more than 12 years, Scott knows the Swans’ veteran better than most and he said he still has plenty to offer the club on the field. “He seems to think that his time has passed, but I don’t see it that way,” Scott said. “He’s always been his harshest critic and also very humble.”
After joining the club from Barellan, Mickan played his first senior game with Griffith on April 8, 2000, with the last weekend’s clash against Narrandera his 218th in a Swans jersey. His commitment to the club has seen him rarely miss a game due to injury, despite playing a hard, fair and uncompromising brand of football. “I know Mick Duncan used to love him when he was playing centre half-forward and he’d be coming in hard, because if Mick had a tagger, he’d generally wear Jeff,” Scott said.   
Blessed with a dry wit, Mickan was always one of the most popular clubman at the Swans, and his commitment to the cause has seen him already anointed as a life member. “I just think he loves the game, being a farmer and working out by himself most of the time, I just really think he enjoys the company and loves getting amongst it,” Scott said. (The Area News, Friday September 2, 2011).  


GRIFFITH midfielder Guy Orton capped off a magnificent debut season with the Swans by being crowned the Jim Quinn Medallist at Narrandera Ex-Servicemen's Club last night. Orton produced an amazing seven best-on-ground performances to be crowned Riverina Football League's best and fairest player at its presentation ceremony last night. Orton polled four three-votes in the space of five weeks during the middle of the season to set up a medal-winning lead as he stormed to the front at the end of round 14. He then polled three votes in the Swans' five-point loss to Coolamon in round 17 to seal the win with 22 votes, in front of fast-finishing ruckman Lachlan Hunter and Ben Edyvean. Narrandera's Hunter was surprisingly quiet during the first half of the year then finished the count strongly to finish on 20. Coolamon's Edyvean was rewarded for his best season yet as he polled 18 votes to finish third. Both ruckman polled five votes over the final two rounds to jump into the placings. Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong captain-coach Mitch Carroll rounded out the top four on 17 votes. Orton's victory was met with huge applause last night, particularly from the Swans table where he has proved a popular hit with players and supporters. The 25-year-old moved to Griffith this year as the Swans' new assistant coach and the move has paid an immediate dividend. Orton made the move from Darwin club Waratahs to Griffith with fellow recruits Che Jenkins and Beau Runnalls and all three proved great pick-ups for the Swans. Orton arrived with a decorated football resume, having won a best and fairest with Mitiamo in its premiership year. He was also captain of the Lodden Valley representative team. Originally from Kyneton, Orton also spent time with VFL club Bendigo Bombers in 2006. Orton represented Riverina Football League this year and was one of the team's best in the win over Sydney under 23s. He has already signalled his intention to stay with Griffith and is considered the club's coach in waiting. Swans teammate Mick Duncan led Orton early in the count and was one behind Leeton-Whitton's Bryce O'Garey at the half-way mark before finishing eight with 13 votes.

(Daily Advertiser - Wednesday September 14, 2011).



GRIFFITH Swans junior netball coach Sally Chambers hopes her side can use its underdog advantage ahead of their Riverina Football and Netball grand final against Turvey Park on Sunday. Despite winning the minor premiership and being one of the form sides of the competition, Chambers believes the Bulldogs deserve to head into the showdown as slight favourites. Griffith's line-up is still to be determined, but one omission is already known with Jacinta Scott left with the heart-breaking decision to travel to Sydney as part of the Riverina Netball Academy. Chambers said Scott was torn between her teammates and a chance to further her own career, but said she was confident the rest of the side would rise to the challenge. "We have a couple of girls that are injured and sick so we will be waiting to see if they are able to play," Chambers said. "We have played Turvey Park three times - we have had a draw, a win and a loss, so I suppose we go in as underdogs but my girls will give it all they have on the day." Daisy Tyrell is fighting to be fit after injuring her wrist in the Griffith and District netball grand finals last weekend, while Reagan Dunlop is fighting illness. Turvey Park will be buoyed by the retention of its Riverina Academy stars, who have been chosen to stay and play in the decider, but Chambers said she was still confident her side can win if they play to their potential. "Turvey's shooters are very accurate and their defence are tall and know how to use their body," she said. "Our shooters Danni Chambers and Tennille Scott will need to have a blinder of a game and our defence, Anna Smith and Hannah Linnegar, need to be very disciplined if we want to win the game. "I think my girls will give Turvey a good run for their money and if we stay focused and have our minds on the job we could come away with a win." (The Area News - Friday September 23, 2011).



WHILE they may not have come away with the ultimate prize, Griffith Swans junior netball coach Sally Chambers said they still had plenty to be proud of in season 2011. The Swans lost a see-sawing Riverina Football and Netball grand final in Narrandera by six goals, as they pushed the more-fancied Turvey Park Bulldogs right until the final whistle. Griffith set the pace in the early going and lead by a handy buffer of four at the first break, before the inevitable fight-back from the Bulldogs started. Chambers said the fact her side were the outsiders heading into the game helped them jump the Bulldogs at the start. "We had it over the top of them at the end of the first quarter, but they managed to turn it around and do the same thing to us during the second quarter," Chambers said. "But from then we went goal-for-goal with them for the rest of the game, but it was a really good game and it really flowed well from one end to the other." Trailing 17-13 at the long break, Griffith could not gain a significant enough foothold in the game to pressure the Bulldogs and were still behind by five 27-22 at three-quarter time, and try as they might they were simply not able to make a big enough inroads late in the game. Despite riding a wave of good form through the second half of the season, Chambers said the side was not overly disappointed with not claiming the title. "None of the girls were really upset from losing, because everyone put in a really good effort and gave it their all," she said. "I don't think there was as much pressure on them going in as underdogs." While most of the side stepped up to the level required in a grand final, shooters Danni Chambers and Tennille Scott vert accurate all game, and capitalised on their teammates good work earlier. While defenders Anna Smith and Hannah Linnegar worked very hard to try and create intercepts and tips would-be passes wide of their intended targets. (The Area News - Monday September 26, 2011).



THE GRIFFITH Swans have already been bolstered for the 2012 Riverina Football League season after quickly re-signing Che Jenkins and Tom Buckley to wear the red and white. Coming on the back of Guy Orton signalling his intentions to lead the club for the next two years in a playing-head coach role, the additions of Jenkins and Buckley is a massive boost for the side who just missed out on playing finals football this season. Griffith coach Damien Scott said Jenkins and Buckley's retention is a huge step forward for the club as they look to continue to build back towards a premiership. "Che is definitely next year but we'll sit down through the course of the year next year and see what he's thinking about another," Scott said. "But Tom is also here for another year at this stage, but we're hoping that he might want to stay here for longer. "We've been trying to get guys like this to come to the area and the club and enjoy themselves, because if they can do that then hopefully, they can attract other players they know. "But I think after these guys have indicated they're staying I think we're heading in the right direction." Despite a very rushed introduction to their new cub, with Jenkins and Buckley arriving just weeks before the start of the season, Scott tipped the pair will have an even bigger impact in 2012 after a thorough off-season. "The exciting thing for me is to have a pre-season into guys like Tom and Jono Gastin and then you've got Che who will be better for the break and a pre-season," he said. "When he came here, he was pretty tired and nearly worn out after having just played a season, so for us to be able to freshen him up and get 100 per cent." Scott hinted the raft of talented juniors at the club will continue to get a chance to impress in first grade, if they show they have the desire and skill to handle the top side. "I'm looking at some of the boys who have come out of the 17s this year, guys like Matt Griffin, Pat Whittard and Josh Tyndall, those sorts of guys who will be able to come up next year and they should be aiming for nothing less than first grade," Scott said. (The Area News - Monday September 18, 2011).

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