Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Andronaco quickly making presence felt

Anthony Andronaco is a young sportsman going places quickly and at the weekend he added another feather to his cap with a senior debut for Congupna Football Club.

DAMEN FRANCIS June 12, 2014 3:15am

Anthony Andronaco has not let coeliac disease prevent him from playing sport at the highest level ahead of his years.

At 15, Anthony Andronaco is already a regular Cricket Shepparton A-grade wicketkeeper and a junior black belt in goju-ryu.

On Saturday he added ‘‘senior footballer’’ to that list.

Andronaco was a late call-up as Congupna’s 22nd man against reigning premier Echuca United at Echuca South Recreation Reserve.

A corked calf to Tom Fuller in the under-17 game rendered him unable to take his place as substitute for the senior game and another injury fast-tracked Andronaco’s debut before half-time.

‘‘I found out during our thirds game that one of our players got a corkie in the first quarter, so they needed someone to go up,’’ Andronaco said.

‘‘I was a bit shocked, already had a few goosebumps, but it was good I was excited to have a go and see how I went.

‘‘(As the substitute) you never know when you are going to go on, it could be the last five minutes or the start of the game.

‘‘It was good just to sit there as well and just watch how they played all their zones and everything like that and I went in in the second quarter and it was a really good experience.’’

An early uncontested mark and handball settled the nerves.

‘‘I didn’t get much of the ball, but I laid a few tackles as well, so in the end I was happy with what I did,’’ he said.

Andronaco played his junior football for Guthrie St Demons, before following friends to The Road for under-14s.

Working his way through the ranks, Andronaco is most at home playing on the ball or a half-forward flank.

However, with thirds teammate Trent Greening holding down a senior spot, he has shown his versatility, booting five goals as a target forward against the Eagles.

Andronaco represented Goulburn Murray Schoolboys at under-15 level and tried out for the Murray Bushrangers’ under-16 program, but a groin injury limited his opportunities to impress and he was cut.

Good form for The Road helped him get rewarded by senior coach Kevin O’Donoghue, following in the footsteps of Joel Brett, Patrick Martin and Matt Teitz in getting a chance under the MFL’s substitute rule.

Andronaco arguably came to prominence as a sportsman on the cricket pitch, with his performances as an opening batsman for Cricket Shepparton and Northern Rivers.

Shepparton and Youth Club United captain Josh Lawrence backed that ability when he made Andronaco his No.1 gloveman last season.

He was called up to Shepparton’s senior representative team as the association cast one eye to the future and while a groin injury — the same one that restricted his Murray Bushrangers involvement — kept him from playing, he got plenty out of the Melbourne Country Week experience.

About the only thing Andronaco can’t do is eat wheat or gluten.

Two years ago he was diagnosed with coeliac disease, but it hasn’t stopped him excelling at sport.

‘‘When I first found out it was a really big shock because everything I ate pretty much had to do with wheat or gluten,’’ Andronaco said.

‘‘It’s taken me a really long time to start to get used to it, especially going to mates’ houses or the footy or the cricket I have to bring my own food.

‘‘But I don’t mind and it’s a lot healthier as well, everything that has wheat and that is normally junk food anyway.’’

Andronaco hopes to take the next step and make his full Murray Football League senior debut soon.

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