Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Blake departs Cats, Bulldogs regain premiership players

Mark Blake won't line up for Goulburn Valley Football League club Mooroopna this season, while Ryan Crawford and Shannon Broadbent will return to play for Tatura.

HANNAH DRISCOLL January 15, 2014 4:10am

Shannon Broadbent


Mooroopna coach Blake Campbell has confirmed 2012 Morrison medallist and Geelong premiership ruckman Mark Blake will not play for the club this season.

Campbell said while Blake had not confirmed where he would play, it would be in either Melbourne or Geelong.

Campbell said the club knew Blake, who is getting married at the end of this year, was tossing up towards the end of last year whether to continue with the Cats or play closer to home.

He is currently registered in the Northern Territory Football League, where he has played three games with St Mary’s.

‘‘Our whole conversation was ‘let’s assess how things are going in March once the Darwin season finishes, let’s assess how we’re travelling at the footy club ... do you want to travel back, do you want to play closer to home?’’’ Campbell said.

‘‘But it’s come out he’s more than likely, after a bit of thought and playing up in Darwin, that he wants to play a bit closer to home.’’

While Campbell was disappointed to lose Blake, who he described as a ‘‘really good clubman’’ as well as player, it presented an opportunity for Jesse Webster, who he sees as a long-term player at the club.

The potential for Blake to play six or eight games was dismissed because of the failed experiment last year with the Northern Territory fly-ins, as well as the wish to develop Webster.

James Marks is another departure as he has moved to Geelong, but 2011 grand final player Simon Russell and Broadbeach teammate Martin Curtis, Shepparton United’s Trent Freer, Congupna’s Kaine Greening and former Shepparton East coach Brad Lowe are the new faces in the group.

And in a potential silver-lining, Campbell said Blake had not ruled out returning to the club in the future.

That is exactly what has happened at Tatura, with premiership players Shannon Broadbent and Ryan Crawford back at the kennel alongside Tasmanian State League’s reigning leading senior goal-kicker Sonny Whiting.

All three were at training on Monday night when coach Brendan van der Donk said the two former players, both fresh off a premiership-winning season with Deer Park, officially signed up.

‘‘I spoke to them (Broadbent and Crawford) before Christmas, but we thought they were out of contention because they were playing at Deer Park,’’ van der Donk said.

‘‘But we thought we would touch base with them again because they were premiership players and we always try and catch up a little bit and we put an offer to them they couldn’t refuse.

‘‘They’re both quality players, so it’s good to get them on board.

‘‘They just wanted to play the better standard of football and they loved it, they always said they wanted to return to Tat and we had the option there and it all worked well.’’

Whiting kicked 76 goals in the TSL home-and-away season to win last season’s Hudson Medal and finished with 85 goals, including two in Launceston’s 14-point preliminary final loss to Burnie.

Goulburn Valley Football League representative Broadbent won the Bulldogs’ best-and-fairest award in the premiership year and was joint winner of Western Region Football League’s best-and-fairest award last season alongside Spotswood’s Chris O’Keefe.

Deer Park won the grand final in a thriller against Spotswood by one point.

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