Saints' joy as HDFL premiers sign former AFL player

A SECOND former AFL player is on his way to the Heathcote District Football League for the 2010 season.Just a month out from the start of the season, reigning premier Heathcote has signed former Fitzroy and North Melbourne forward Anthony Mellington.The Saints’ signing of Mellington comes on the back of North Bendigo recruiting ex-Collingwood forward Damian Houlihan earlier in the pre-season.Mellington spent five years in the AFL with Fitzroy and North Melbourne between 1995 and 1999.Now 35, he played 44 games with the Lions and Kangaroos, kicking 43 goals at the elite level.He kicked a career-best six goals for Fitzroy at the Western Oval on May 18, 1996, in what was Fitzroy’s last AFL win as the Lions defeated Fremantle by 31 points.Mellington ended 1996 - Fitzroy’s last season before merging with the Brisbane Lions - as the club’s leading goalkicker with 22.However, while Mellington made his name at Fitzroy as a forward, Heathcote coach Brent Chapman said he was likely to play at centre half-back for the Saints.“He is a quality player, so we’re very pleased to have signed him,” Chapman said yesterday.Mellington signed with the Saints after training with the club on Tuesday night.Following his AFL career, Mellington spent eight years with Goulburn Valley Football League club Shepparton, kicking 130 goals in his debut season with the Bears in 2000, while he later coached the club in 2007.He has spent the past two years playing with Tocumwal, where he was best on ground in the Bloods’ thrilling six-point Murray Football League grand final win over Moama last season.“He got best on ground playing at centre half-back in the grand final for Tocumwal last year, but he can go forward as well,” said Chapman, who previously played with Mellington at Shepparton.“His leadership skills will be important; he’s really good with the young blokes and will be good support in helping me out too.“He won’t have a specific assistant coach’s role, but he has coached me before, so it will be good to be able to bounce ideas off him.”While the Saints have secured Mellington as a key defender, they have added to their midfield with the signing of White Hills’ Christian Sargeant, whose clearance is still pending.“We lost Daniel Anderson and Marc Millard from the midfield, but we think we’ve covered them with three or four blokes we’ve picked up who can go through there,” Chapman said.The Saints have also added two forwards to their list in Simon Douglas and Rhys Carmichael, who will help cover the loss of premiership spearhead Matt Waters.Heathcote opens its premiership defence on April 3 with a tough first-up assignment, an away game against Lockington-Bamawm United.