STEPHEN Milne, Rick Ladson and Simon Rosa are all making Bendigo Football-Netball League returns this year.
Not as players, but as members of Darryl Wilson’s inter-league coaching panel for the BFNL’s AFL Victoria Community Championships match against Outer East in May.
Also part of the coaching panel will be Damien Slater, while Darren Edmondson and Nick Smith will assist with opposition analysis in the lead-up to the May 18 match at the QEO.
With Milne and Ladson involved, the coaching panel features two members with AFL experience, who also have a past involvement with BFNL inter-league.
Ladson (125 games with Hawthorn) previously had a two-year stint as Bendigo’s inter-league coach in 2014 and 2015 for a 1-1 record.
And Milne (275 games for St Kilda) kicked nine goals for the BFNL in its 34-point win over Gippsland at the QEO in 2014 during his first season with Strathfieldsaye.
“I’m good mates with Darryl and he’s a premiership coach of mine at Strathfieldsaye. Coaching is something I’m keen on, so this is a chance to scratch the surface and learn a bit off him,” Milne, who will be inducted into the St Kilda Hall of Fame next month, said on Friday.
“I have been away from Bendigo footy since 2015, but when Darryl rang and we had a chat about it, I had a bit of a think about it and it’s something I’m really looking forward to being involved in.”
Not surprisingly given he kicked 574 goals from his 275 AFL games with St Kilda and is regarded as one of the game’s top small forwards, Milne will be in charge of the forward line.
“There’s the possibility that Stewart Crameri from Maryborough could be part of the team, so that’s obviously a big drawcard,” said Milne, who has hung up the boots after playing last year with Beaumaris.
“Hopefully, we can get all the big names playing and get the Bendigo league back as strong as ever.
“I remember having a really good win over Gippsland the year I played, so, hopefully, we can do the same this year against Outer East.”
Rosa – a four-time Golden Square premiership player and former BFNL inter-league captain and Bendigo Bombers skipper – will be the stoppage coach.
Ladson, who coached Golden Square’s 2013 premiership team, will be in charge of the backline.
And Slater, a former Bendigo Diggers VFL player and both a premiership player and Heathcote District league Cheatley medallist with Colbinabbin, will be the midfield coach.
“I was really keen to get as much experience as possible in and around the squad and give them every opportunity to do as well as they can,” Wilson said.
“I was also keen to try to get guys who weren’t heavily involved with clubs so they come at it with a bit of a neutral view and are able to put a lot of time and energy into the group.”
With his coaching panel now finalised, Wilson expects to name a training squad in the coming weeks.
“We’re probably looking at getting something out in the next two to three weeks. We really only want the guys who are committed and want to play, so when we do announce the squad every one of those players will have made themselves available,” Wilson said.
BFNL manager Cameron Tomlins said the league was thrilled with the calibre of its coaching panel for the match against Outer East, which is a new league that combines the former Yarra Ranges and South East competitions.
“Darryl has already proven his burning desire to achieve his vision and blueprint for BFNL inter-league success in 2019,” Tomlins said.
“The talent and experience he has been able to secure as part of his coaching panel is exciting for the whole inter-league program.
“The knowledge and insight the coaching panel will be able to deliver will hold us in great stead to climb the rankings table.”
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.