TWO of North Bendigo’s star players, Jeremy Mills and Troy Kelm, are leaving the Bulldogs and will be part of Deer Park’s bid for a seventh-consecutive premiership next year.
The athletic Kelm has been renowned as the premier ruckman in the Heathcote District league during his two stints with North Bendigo and Mills as one of the competition’s most damaging goalkicking midfielders who was this year runner-up in the Cheatley Medal to Huntly’s Ryan Semmel, who is also leaving the competition to play at Mordialloc.
Deer Park plays in division one of the Western Region league and has won six-consecutive premierships during a remarkable run that began in 2013.
Melbourne-based Mills and Kelm have both previously played against Deer Park when they lined up with Albion in 2016.
The pair are both premiership players with North Bendigo having played in the club’s drought-breaking 2015 grand final win over Leitchville-Gunbower – a game in which Kelm was awarded best-on-ground.
They had the chance to add a second North Bendigo flag this year, but lost the grand final to the Bombers by nine points when the Bulldogs paid the price for a poor second quarter.
“Unfortunately, 20 minutes of footy in that second quarter ruined our year,” said Mills, who like Kelm was among the Bulldogs’ best in the grand final loss.
“The boys showed a lot of character in the grand final to fight back in the second half and we were coming home hard, but unfortunately, ran out of time.”
While Mills and Kelm are on the move from Atkins Street, the Bulldogs have gun forward Brady Herdman returning and have also recently signed midfielder Jake Hyland, who has previously played at Kyneton, and versatile key position player Shane Harris from Inglewood.
Meanwhile, Elmore has secured a ruckman who played 10 senior games in the Ovens and Murray league this year – James Atkinson from Corowa Rutherglen.
“It’s a really key signing for us with Jack Hayes coming off an ankle injury,” Elmore coach Danny Brewster said.
“At this stage it looks like James will take the No.1 ruck role for us and that will then allow us to look at a couple of other options for where we play Jack.
“Nick Page did a good job for us when Jack went down, but having someone who is a designated ruckman who has played senior footy in the Ovens and Murray league is definitely going to help us.”
Next year’s HDFNL season has a start date of April 13 in the draft fixture, which will be officially released later this month.
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