Portarlington’s quest to climb out of the Bellarine League cellar as it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2024 has received a significant boost with the signing of two former AFL players.
The Demons have revealed the addition of former North Melbourne and Richmond midfielder Connor Menadue and ex-Carlton rookie Jaryd Cachia.
Coach Warren Finlayson says the signings of Menadue and Cachia are reinforcement that Portarlington is heading in the right direction.
“We were nearly eight goals better off when it came to average losing margin,” he said.
“We were committed to closing the gap. When I spoke last year when I was appointed, that was a big focus for us.
“With a game plan and some structures and a bit of a clearer purpose, it was able to work its way through.
“With a bit more manpower, we can continue to close the gap on those bigger teams and get a few margins fall our way.”
Menadue, 27, made 39 appearances for the Tigers between 2015 and 19 after being taken with pick 33 in the 2014 National Draft.
Menadue played seven games with the Kangaroos in 2021 after joining them via that year’s rookie draft.
He spent the past two years with Western Region club Altona, where he was teammates with current Demons Mitch Turnbull and Kelly Pickard
32-year-old Cachia played 14 games for the Blues in 2013 and was named the club’s best first-year player that year.
However, he was delisted at the end of the 2014 season without playing a further game.
Cachia captained Richmond’s VFL team in 2015 and played with Norwood in the SANFL in 2016.
He’s also played in the Essendon and District League and the VAFA.
Finlayson is looking forward to the leadership Menadue and Cachia can provide.
“We’ll be encouraging them to push that and challenge the playing group and say, “maybe some of these things need to change for us to climb up the ladder,” Finlayson said.
“In regards to signing them, it’s a really big boost for the playing group.
“For Connor and Jaryd to say, “I like the sound of that, and we think the footy club’s heading in the right direction” gives a well-earned boost of confidence to the current playing group.”
Menadue and Cachia are among four signings announced by Portarlington.
Strengthening the Altona link is key defender James Goetz, while Brayden Poole arrives at Ron Evans Oval having been a member of the Australian Defence Force combined team.
And Finlayson hasn’t ruled out more signatures in the coming weeks.
“We’re chasing a few specific positions, and we’re working really hard on addressing our needs.
“It’s great to have guys fighting for a spot in the senior 22.”
Portarlington will be one of the first local clubs to officially commence pre-season training, with November 6 starting an almost five-month preparation for the 2024 season.
“We’ve been finished for quite some time now,” Finlayson said.
“The guys have started to put a few kays in the legs off their own back.
“We’ll get the footys out and really hone in our skill level and out structures.
“The more we can develop that and bring the new guys up to speed, the better off we’ll be.”