Redeyes onballer Danny Clarke signs with Shepp East.
Two-time Blighty best-and-fairest winner Danny Clarke will not play for the Redeyes in 2013.
After his side claimed the minor premiership last season and then bombed out in the finals, Clarke confirmed he is returning to Shepparton East where he won a premiership in 2004.
The loss of Clarke, however, has been nullified by the signing of Barooga defender Brett Clarke and Mulwala’s Zeke Flanagan.
‘I’m hopeful of getting one more from Barooga as well,’’ said Blighty’s new coach Rob Wren, who coached Barooga from 2009-11.
‘‘We’ve got a few others returning to the club as well like Harry Eastman and Warren Andrews, which is good to see.’’
Wren also said onballer Jamie Chadderton from the Deniliquin Rams would be playing for Blighty next year.
Joining Clarke on the departures list, though, is Josh Peers (Berrigan) and Beau Close (Deniliquin Rams).
Clarke, who won back-to-back best and fairests during his two seasons with the Redeyes, said he has ‘‘nothing against Blighty’’ and that he is making the move due to family reasons.
‘‘I’ve got a young family now and it’s just a bit easier. I only live about two minutes away from the Shepp East ground,’’ he said.
‘‘If Blighty was closer I probably would have stayed but to drive out the front door and be at training in two minutes just suits me alot more. It’s easier for my family to come and watch me play too.’’
A big loss for Blighty, Clarke was originally recruited from Goulburn Valley Football League club Tatura at the end of 2010 but before that he played for Shepparton East and Shepp Swans.
The midfielder, who doesn’t mind a stint up forward, said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing in a new competition (Picola League’s south-east division).
‘‘I’ve played with Shepp East before. I won a flag with them in 2004 so you could say I’m returning to my old stomping ground,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m really looking forward to it. Like I said, though, if Blighty was a bit closer I probably would have played out my career there. I made a lot of friends there who I’ll keep in contact with and I’ll definitely be checking on their progress for the next few years.’’
Redeyes president Andrew Cochrane said Blighty would miss Clarke and praised him for his services to the club.
‘‘Obviously it’s disappointing to lose a player like Danny but we’re very grateful for the service he has given us,’’ Cochrane said.
‘‘He told me that travel was the main factor in his decision and we wish him all the best in the future.
‘‘He has done a hell of a lot for our club and he is a great bloke.’’
Amid speculation that tall forward Jake Plattfuss and onballer Kyel Bain were leaving the club, Cochrane said he expects both players to be wearing Blighty colours next year.
‘‘As far as I know we have retained the services of Keith Baron, Brody Lumber and the Platffuss boys (Jake and Drew),’’ he said.
‘‘There is a lot of rumors going around; It is silly season after all.’’
The Redeyes will resume pre-season training on January 28.
~ Shaun Connor
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