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Top guns depart Town

Violet Town premiership coach Hayden Lamaro is confident his side will still be ‘‘really competitive’’ despite losing star trio Russell Lee, Craig Whelan and Jake Williams.

MARC MCGOWAN December 5, 2012 4:05am

Russell Lee


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Violet Town premiership coach Hayden Lamaro is confident his side will still be ‘‘really competitive’’ despite losing star trio Russell Lee, Craig Whelan and Jake Williams.

Lee, Whelan and Williams accepted big-money offers to join Heathcote District Football League club Leitchville-Gunbower, which finished last with just one win last season.

Lee won Kyabram District league’s highest individual honour, the McNamara Medal, in his first year at the Towners this year.

His best friend and former Mooroopna teammate Whelan broke the league’s home-and-away season goal-kicking record and finished with 168 majors, while Williams was best afield in Violet Town’s 76-point grand final win over Undera.

Lee said on Twitter yesterday he had rejected the Bombers’ overtures three times before signing, but was looking forward to working with their developing list.

‘‘(It was) such a tough call said no 3 times b4 said yes. VT gr8 club and hopefully they can replace us,’’ Lee tweeted.

‘‘Life goes on and new challenges arise.’’

Lee, Whelan and Williams join fellow premiership players Dale Saddington and Ben Tsakmakis, who will play at Whittlesea, in departing the Towners.

But Lamaro said his four recruits to date — Pascoe Vale ruckman Josh Williams and Benalla All Blacks centre half-forward Kane Dockery, on-baller Mick Wright and centre half-back Joel Hearn — were ‘‘A-graders’’.

Hearn, who won the best-on-ground medal for shutting down Shepparton East forward Jason Traianidis in Tungamah’s Picola District Football League south-east premiership three years ago, is the latest newcomer.

Josh Dunne also returns after taking last season off because of work commitments.

Lamaro instigated discussions with a ‘‘real quality’’ key forward and a midfielder once Lee, Whelan and Williams told him they were leaving on Monday.

‘‘It brings us back to the field a fair bit, but, in saying that, the four guys we’ve been able to recruit so far will play a pretty big role,’’ Lamaro said.

‘‘But we’re speaking to some really good players from down this way who we feel are more than capable of filling their roles.’’

Leitchville-Gunbower football operations manager Col Hay did not return The News’ calls.

Lamaro said Lee was honest with him about the situation and Williams, in particular, felt he had let the club down in not giving it another year after an injury-riddled campaign.

‘‘(Williams) has a baby and runs his own business... so I can understand the decision,’’ Lamaro said.

‘‘It’s disappointing for the club, but what do you do? We’re not even in the ballpark.

‘‘You don’t hold them to ransom. They played a good role, got us to a flag and all that sort of stuff and we can see where they’re coming from, too.

‘‘It’s too big of an opportunity for them to knock back.’’

Lamaro said the likes of Ben Power, Daniel Sage, Tim Ross and Dockery would ensure Violet Town still had a ‘‘potent’’ forward line.

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