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Departing skipper backs top-tier push

January 23, 2024 7:00 am in by
Ocean Grove has thrown its support behind the prospoed restructure of local football and netball. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

Newtown & Chilwell-bound Ocean Grove captain Joe McDonald has backed the Grubbers’ ambition to be part of the top flight of local football.

Last month, President Pete Smith revealed the club is keen to be part of the region’s highest level of football and netball – whether or not a proposed restructure goes ahead.

Ocean Grove is home to the most significant township population (17,714 at the 2021 census) on the Bellarine Peninsula, with that figure likely to have passed 20,000 by the next collection of data in 2026.

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“It’d be awesome for Ocean Grove,” McDonald, who revealed he was headed to the GFNL on Monday, said.

“With how big our population is now and how strong our junior club is, the community around the club is so strong.”

McDonald is the fifth member of the 2021 elimination final-winning team aged 24 and under that has moved to a GFNL club, joining St Albans duo Sam Donegan and Fletcher Keck and brothers Kobe (North Shore) and Kye Annand (Geelong West).

Also playing at a higher level from the team that defeated Anglesea are James Paterson and Mitch Taylor, who are both playing with VAFA Premier club Uni Blues.

Donegan made a VFL appearance with Geelong in 2022 after winning the Supersaints’ best-and-fairest that year, while last year, Kobe Annand helped Werribee to the VFL grand final, and Kye played nine games for the Cats.

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“I have no doubt in my mind all those boys that have gone up to play GFL, including myself, would be back there in a heartbeat if that (move to the top tier) was to happen,” McDonald said.

“You’d hope we’d be able to retain our juniors a lot more than we have been.”

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