An LTS Easter Egg Hunt!

No Dave this week, but Jonty and Marcus brought their A-Game. 320081

MARCUS: Hello Jonty, firstly Happy Easter, it would be remiss of us not to touch on it.

JONTY: Thank you Marcus, did the Easter Bunny come for you?

MARCUS: Look, he came in spirit. It’s not so much the tangibles when you get to our age as much as the spirit of Easter and spending time with the loved ones. That’s what made Easter for me. How about you?

JONTY: Yeah, I had a good Saturday with the family. Easter also marks the last week off for a lot of our local clubs before the footy season kicks off.

MARCUS: Just to finish on Easter, when we were younger, wasn’t it good waking up and having an Easter Egg hunt?

JONTY: Yeah. It was an absolute highlight. I used to have the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Grandma’s holiday house in Sorrento – after eight or nine hunts, you knew where all the hiding spots were but it’s still a fond memory.

MARCUS: That’s remarkably similar because we did the same at my Grandmother’s in Balnarring. There was lots of shrubbery in the yard so it made for lots of good hiding spots. She made a big effort of making sure there were clues. So it was a highlight of childhood growing up. That covers the important stuff, now we’ll rabble on for the rest of it. Jonty, what was your best action?


JONTY: My best action came at Belvedere Reserve on Good Friday. Berwick junior Tairon Ah-Mu stood up in the second half to try and keep his team in it. He kicked three goals and was an aerial presence. If I was to pinpoint it to one moment, it would be right at the start of the third quarter when he took a big contested mark deep and kicked a crucial goal after Gippy took the momentum into halftime. A bottom-aged player to watch.

MARCUS: Very good. There wasn’t much going on in my leagues so I’m going to give my best action to someone very close to my heart for better or for worse in Jake Stringer. His goal in the dying stages against St Kilda on Saturday from about 60 out on the wrong angle for a right footer gets my best action. He’s an enigmatic player and a match winner and in big stages, big players step up, which he did. I’m probably more confident in him from that distance than 20-30 metres out. He’s got room to kick it as hard as he can and he delivered.

JONTY: I said on Thursday after Collingwood won and Jamie Elliott kicked important stabilising last quarter goals that his record when the game is on the line is ridiculous compared to his overall record which is reasonably mediocre. I feel like Stringer is a similar sort of player.

MARCUS: I don’t have the stats in front of me but gut feel would certainly suggest so. That first year he took off in 2015, it felt he could do anything and it would work. I think he was more of a ground-ball player back then whereas these days he might have slowed down with age. I hope re reclaims that All-Australian form.


MARCUS: We’ve got to address the elephant in the room today, there is no Dave. Do we know where he is?

JONTY: He’s not outside either.

DAVE: He mentioned something about going on holiday. I think he’s off to find the person who implemented PlayHQ across Cricket Victoria.


JONTY: I think that would be in Fiji.

MARCUS: Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. There will be a cocktail and golf to go with it. In all seriousness, he’s well and truly earned it, he runs himself into the ground to create the product you read. Dave, you’re probably not going to read this but we hope you have a fantastic holiday and are rested up for the footy season.


MARCUS: Back on the Easter theme, we talked about our own Easter memories but I want us to put ourselves in the shoes of some teams we cover. If you’re a sporting club, you’ve got your basket and you’re heading out with your cousins and siblings, what are the eggs you’re hoping to find on your team’s behalf?

JONTY: I’ll start with Cranbourne Football Club: they’d love to find a key forward to replace Marc Holt. You’re never going to get anyone of his calibre, but they’ve also lost Kirk Dickson. It means they will have to shape the ball differently going inside 50 but still having a competent bail-out would be handy.

MARCUS: My first one is Gembrook-Cockatoo. The brokers are hoping to unwrap some injury luck. They had a really promising beginning to 2023 but then I think they lost five players in one game. Unfortunately, Colin Bastow, the premiership-winning captain from 2022 has already been ruled out for the season with a recurring knee issue after he did his ACL in 2022. It’s not started on a great footing for them and last year they were besotted by injury which put too much onto the likes of Aaron Firrito. They have Berwick Springs and Olinda Ferny Creek in their first two fixtures which they will look at as winnable. They will be in the same sort of bracket as those teams so hopefully for them, they’re eight points after the first two.

JONTY: Very good. I’m going to go down a similar path. Devon Meadows don’t want for much on-field with the recruits they’ve attracted but they would love to be able to have everyone fit when it matters. In particular, Patrick Ryder. The word is, he is currently fitter than what he was in his last season of AFL. If he can stay that way, watch out MPFNL defenders.

MARCUS: And wasn’t he already dominant last season?

JONTY: Yeah, he still averaged several goals per game…

MARCUS: Very impressive…I’m still sad about Patty Ryder leaving Essendon but we move on. My next club is Narre Warren. This is different for the Magpies. They’re not looking for Easter eggs so much as Aeroplane Jelly. They need the gelatin to bring their team together. They’ve got so many new faces and have lost so many names. It will be a very different looking Narre Warren side when you consider the likes of Tom Miller, Jake Richardson and a host of role players: Cam Miller, Ryan Patterson, Lachlan Benson. It will take a little bit of time to bring them together and any binding agent that can accelerate that is going to be much needed.

JONTY: So are Doveton! It segues nicely. They’ve brought in a few recruits and have a new coach, Matt Stapleton taking over from Michael Cardamone. They have a huge challenge against Murrumbeena. If those recruits can gel pretty quickly than that will be huge for them. Hopefully Stapleton can oversee a well-connected team from round one.

MARCUS: I’m going to deviate away from footy and go to a red ball of a different kind. Probably one of the more heartbreaking stories of the year from their grand final last weekend is Casey South Melbourne Cricket Club. They probably don’t want us to back over the details of it. Losing when they were right in position to break the premiership drought is something that only a soothing hot chocolate, blanket and big cuddly hug can remedy. That’s all you can offer in a circumstance like that. I can’t picture what it would have been like in the rooms with a lot of senior players who worked so hard to get to where they were. They won two gritty finals to get into the grand final and to lose the way they did would have been heartbreaking.

JONTY: Brilliantly said. Hampton Park is looking for height…that’s all I can say.

MARCUS: A ladder?

JONTY: They were notoriously small last year. They didn’t have a fullback, they lacked a key forward to take the game by the scruff of the neck and were thin in their ruck stocks. And now, they’ve lost their biggest forward in Nathan Carver, biggest midfielder in Makaio Haywood and ruck in Andy Parker and have brought no-one in to replace them. It is going to be a tough year given how threadbare the backbone of their team will be. In a similar vein, Endeavour Hills would love to find a ruckman hiding in the shrubbery, having been unable to secure a Sean Van Velsen replacement.

MARCUS: Could it be almost a Richmond 2017 situation for Hampton Park?

JONTY: Richmond still had Jack Riewoldt.

MARCUS: So they’ll need a Shaun Grigg type in the ruck.

JONTY: Genuinely. You’d almost be better if you’re Hampton Park, as ridiculous as it sounds, if you’re 70 out, dribbling it inside 50 because if it goes high, a Redback isn’t marking it.

MARCUS: That’s a concern. Do they have good ground-ball players?

JONTY: They do, but you say you build your team around big men and they don’t have the big men to build around. It might be a development year to some degree for them.

MARCUS: I think one of my favourite clichés in footy is that the big forward doesn’t have to mark it, he just has to bring the ball to ground and get the little fellas involved. Do they have someone who can at least do that?

JONTY: They have the little fellas like Declan Brunell if it gets to ground level…look for him to have a big year this year.

MARCUS: There we go. We’re off to the soccer pitch now. Dandenong City need reinforcements at the back. They lost Matthew Hennessy to injury in the second game of the year and in the Dandenong Derby after being one of the most vibrant and eye-catching players on the ground for the first 20 or so minutes, they lost Jacob Alexander, a wing-back. You could tell when he went down, they lost a lot of their drive from the back. He’s a critical player to the way they operate. He was a key figure in them making the jump to the NPL’s top division. Dandenong City has conceded in every game they’ve played but they’ve been impressive outside of their leaky defence.

JONTY: Well summed up. I’m going to go to the basketball stadium now. The men first – what they would love to see is Malik Colvin-Seldon tear a game apart. He’s got the size, athleticism, ball-skills and shooting capacity to tear a game apart and there will be other games he will be double or triple-teamed. Certainly, though, he’s a game changer at 6’8″ and I am looking forward to seeing him. The women would love to see the experience they’ve brought in to complement the young players that got exposure last year.

MARCUS: What about your hockey clubs?

JONTY: The Casey Cannons women will be looking to remain a premiership threat. The reconfiguration of the Vic League competition has seen three teams, rather than one, demoted from the top tier which will make the jostle for spots at the top, tough. The men will be looking to find a young goal scorer to replace Nick McPhee who has gone to play hockey at a higher level. Cardinia Storm will be looking for the men’s team to be successful and sustainable in the club’s first year of fielding a men’s unit.

MARCUS: Look at us: hockey, footy, cricket, soccer, basketball. It’s probably the most diverse episode of LTS we have had in a while.

JONTY: It’s great to shine a light on some of the sporting clubs that we cover that are doing a terrific job that might ordinarily fly under the radar.

MARCUS: Thanks for the chat, Jonty. Somehow we managed to carry this on our own. I think that deserves another Easter Egg.