STRATFORD’S venture into new territory begins on Saturday when it plays its first match in the East Gippsland Football-Netball League.
In a good test of its standing in a new competition, the Swans will host reigning premier Lindenow.
With Peter Morrison coaching them for the third season, the Swans will enter the season with a largely youthful side, many having tasted success in the North Gippsland league with the club’s under 18 side.
Jarryd Clohesy, Corey Kee, Dylan Minchin, Mitch Higgins and Pat Goodman were all part of the Swans’ successful thirds teams with the club hoping that success can rub off on the senior side.
Stratford has performed well in its practice matches against former North Gippsland rivals Boisdale-Briagolong and Woodside, with Glen Van Ruiswyk, Tye Morrison, Lewis Bolton, James Russell and Sam Brakespear having shown good form.
Much of reason behind the switch in leagues is a bid to be more competitive, with Swans having won the past five wooden spoons in the North Gippsland league. Last year they only recorded two wins with an average losing margin of 12 goals.
In: Hugh Sullen-Scholes (Heyfield), Jamie Willox, Corey Fulford (Boisdale-Briagolong), Dylan Henness, Josh Kiss, Liam Lemon (Sale), Jason Monardo (Lakes Entrance), Andrew Shaw (Longwood), Ben Halligan (Sale City); out: Scott Scicluna (Bairnsdale), Martin McDonough (Sale City), Callum Beattie (Maffra), Tyson Bush (Nagambie), Luke Saunders, Kaleb Sclater, Brad Weekes (Boisdale-Briagolong), Tristan Sutherland (Wy Yung), Aiden Marshall, Luke Downward (Lindenow South), Michael Lee (Belmont), Adam Cantwell (Heidelberg West), Jack Davidson, Brenton Jones (Queensland), Beau Mynard (NSW).
Of its six opponents this season, Stratford has only played fellow former Riviera league side Paynesville in a competitive match.
In: Damien Abbey, Chris Bulmer, James Pitt, Justin Whitford (Swan Reach), Jamie Darcy (Tooradin-Dalmore), Toby Eiseman (Parkside), Martyn Greaves, Barry Kenny (Orbost-Snowy Rovers), Jack Heydon (University, NTFL), Chris Mathers (Buchan); out: Robert Andy (Bundoora), Brendan Gallus, Braydon Radford (Paynesville), Josh Green, Dale Walkinshaw (Swan Reach), David Kelly (Morwell East), Jason Monardo (Stratford), Xavier Ryan (Bairnsdale).
In: Justin Blair, Matthew Dick (Bairnsdale), Ryan Coles (Omeo-Benambra), Kobi Cook (Swan Reach), Daniel Cox, Mathew Whelan (Buchan), Jack Van Reyk (Wy Yung), Matthew Whitelaw (Yinnar), Jeremy Woodward (Central Highlands FL); out: Todd Alexander (Queensland), Darren Allen (VFL), Bayden Ashwood, Bryce Mitchell (Bairnsdale), Sam Cahill (Paynesville), Greg Coates (Waubra), Anthony Finn (Swam Reach), Justin Gould (Norwood), Paul Hadden, Brad Paris (Lucknow), Peter Hellmuth (Queensland), Tom Howden (Lindenow South), Myles Mitchell (Monash Blues, VAFA), Keith Morgan (Fitzroy Stars), Nick Olejniczak (Heyfield), Luke Schumann (Old Scoth, VAFA), Brent West (Sale City).
In: Wayne Ablett, Lachlan Daly, Jay Dixon (Bruthen), Paul Elliott, Peter Hopkins, Josh Ingram, Ryan Monaghan (Bairnsdale), Allan Glass (Port District, SA), Paul Hadden (Lindenow), Will Hamilton (Canterbury), Nick Hammond (Orbost-Snowy Rovers), Brad Paris (Lindenow), Ricky Rogers (Buchan), Kayne Fayolle (Wy Yung); out: Dale Hammond, Joel Kelly, Jordan Sabell (Bairnsdale), Rodney Johnson (Murrumbeena), Luke Mongta (Paynesville), Brayden Simpson (Wy Yung), Matthew Turnbull (Buchan).
In: none; out: Jackson Bates, Adam Dennis (Glenroy), Justin Smith, Dale Burt, Derek Hibberson, Brooks Joiner, James Joiner, Joseph Joiner, Lindsay Stevens (Buchan), Aiden Giove, Curtley Nettleton, Daniel Preston (Bairnsdale), Martyn Greaves, Barry Kenny (Lakes Entrance), Nick Hammond (Lucknow), Jack Pascoe (Apollo Bayt), Ryan Wait (Bungaree).
In: Phillip Birnie, Adam Selleck (Swan Reach), Sam Cahill (Lindenow), Jake Costigan (Buchan), Steven Fry (Sale City), Brendan Gallus, Brayden Radford (Lakes Entrance), Jacob Harris (Old Collegians, Warrnambool), Troy Harris (Bairnsdale), Luke Mongta (Lucknow), Nick Pincott (Diamond Creek), Neil Rawlings (Hyden-Karlgarin, WA); out: Mark Cooper (Endeavour Hills), Daniel Hayes (Barwon Heads), Colin Hood (Lindenow South), Josh McKenzie (Bentleigh), Mitchell Tucker (Boisdale-Briagolong), Dale Turvey (Ardmona), Nigel Wallacy (East Warrnambool).
In: Wilfred Carter (Bairnsdale), Kayne Fayolle (Lucknow), Alex Green (Rosedale), Sam McPherson (Swifts Creek), Jason Sanford (Queensland), Brayden Simpson (Lucknow), Tristan Sutherland (Stratford), Will Trimnell (Lorne); out: Josh Broome, Nathan Dennison, Brayden McCarrey, Ben Powell, Lewis Roberts (Bairnsdale), David McKail (Swinburn Uni, VAFA), Darcy Murray (Rosedale), Michael O’Callaghan (Lindenow South), Todd Redenbach (Queensland), Nick Sing (Williamstown, VFL), Jack Van Reyk (Lindenow), Chris Wheeler (Monash Blues, VAFA), Ryan Woodward (Marcellin, VAFA).
(Note: players transfers to Bairnsdale may still play in the EGFNL due to the Redlegs not having a reserves team)