New appointments aim to return Mount Pleasant to HDFNL glory

BLUES LEADERS: Matt Johnson, Phil Whiting, Carl Thiesz, Adam Webster, Jason Carbone, Anita Wild, Carly Dorrington and Belinda Pinner.
BLUES LEADERS: Matt Johnson, Phil Whiting, Carl Thiesz, Adam Webster, Jason Carbone, Anita Wild, Carly Dorrington and Belinda Pinner.

MOUNT Pleasant Football Netball Club has unveiled its new leaders to take the club forward in the 2017 HDFNL season.

The Blues have appointed long-time player Matt Johnson as their senior coach.

He replaces Derrick Filo, who led the Blues for the past two seasons before signing to coach Castlemaine.

The changes at the top at Mount Pleasant have not been confined to the football field, with the Blues signing Golden Square midcourt stalwart Belinda Pinner to coach the club's A and A-reserve netball teams.

Pinner, a 250-game player with Golden Square, was a member of two A-grade premierships with the BFNL Bulldogs and was their A-grade captain last season.

She will be joined by former teammate Clare Hope, who joins the Blues in a playing capacity after being best-on-court in Golden Square's 2016 A-reserve netball triumph.

In other appointments, Phil Whiting and Mick Byrne are the Blues' new presidents, Jason Carbone will coach the under-17 football team and Carly Dorrington will be netball assistant coach.

Anita Wild remains as netball operations manager.

Johnson, who has played with the Blues since 2006 - the year of the club's last senior football premiership - has identified a return to finals as a priority.

He said coaching the Blues' reserves for the past couple of seasons had fueled his desire to take on the senior job.

"We are aiming for finals at a minimum; we've got a good young list," he said.

"We had eight or nine young guys come back to the club last year and having a look at our age profile there's only about half a dozen players over 25, so it's a pretty young group to work with.

"Even though we had a pretty average year last year, that exposure to senior football for some of those kids will do them the world of good coming into this year and hopefully fast-track their development."

The Blues have struck an early recruiting windfall, landing former Golden Square pair Ryan Herring and James Walsh, with more names expected to be rolled out in the new year.

Midfielder Walsh, who has played previously at Mount Pleasant, and key forward Herring were both members of the Bulldogs' grand final side which lost to Sandhurst last September.

Johnson described the pair as "quality recruits" who would assist the younger members of the senior squad greatly.

Equally pleasing for the club is the retention of the bulk of its football and netball playing lists from last season.

The Blues finished last season in sixth position, with five wins and 11 losses.

Focus in 2017 will continue on maintaining the club's strong family culture and maintaining a positive environment for footballers and netballers.

"It's something we really focus on, being one, big inclusive club - there's no separation with the netballers and footballers," Johnson said.

Off-field, the Brougham Arms Hotel is the club's major sponsor.