It has been an exciting period for the Barwon Heads Football Club after our unbelievable performance against Torquay on Grand Final day at Newcomb when we triumphed by 55 points to win our sixth Senior Premiership in The Bellarine Football League. Firstly, we received the news that Premiership Coach Daniel Donati had to resign due to moving back to Melbourne for both family and work reasons. The club moved quickly to appoint Co Senior Coaches in Mitch Herbison (Playing) and Sam Schaller (Non-Playing).  Obviously, Mitch had been in this role previously with firstly Bobby Wallace and then Troy Mitchell when we broke a 26 premiership drought by defeating Torquay at Torquay in the 2019 Grand Final. It is a great credit to Sam Schaller that he has risen through the coaching ranks at Barwon Heads over the last decade to now become a Senior Coach alongside Mitch.

Player retention was a huge focus post our premiership win and the club has re-signed 16 of our premiership team with the only losses being Shaun Lyle, Tony Armstrong and Nick Avery (all retired) and Will Jacobs who has decided to play at Alvie in the Colac and District FL. The vast majority of players who were just outside the premiership 22 have re-signed with only Noah McGregor-Dawson (Anglesea) deciding to move on. In 2023 a number of players will be undertaking overseas travel throughout the football season and will miss chunks of games – the Football Department understands that due to COVID travel has been off the agenda since 2020 and we have planned accordingly to cover these absences. Recruiting has also been in full swing with the clear intention of enticing one point players back and also identifying new quality players who we believe will have a positive impact both on and off the field in 2023. The Football Department are determined to keep lifting the bar and to assemble a strong squad that will compete strongly at the business end of the upcoming 2023 season.

So far the club has announced the contracting of 10 quality recruits:

  • Luke Davis –  28 year old returning junior who is 2 time Senior B & F at South Barwon FC and selected at First Ruck in 2022 GFL Team of the Year (Will wear jumper number 1)
  • James Syddall – 25 year old midfielder / forward who played 103 senior games at South Barwon FC (will wear jumper number 7)
  • Ryley Stuhldreier – 26 year old midfielder who played with Bacchus Marsh FC after graduating from Western Jets, Geelong (VFL) and South Barwon FC (Will wear jumper number 2)
  • Harrison King – 27 year old strong utility player who was Western Jets Captain (2013), Werribee VFL (2014-2017) and Bacchus Marsh FC and fifth in Ballarat FL Henderson Medal in 2022 (Will wear jumper number 11)
  • Charlie Perks – 22 year old midfielder who has played 42 senior games with North Ballarat FC (Will wear jumper number 27)
  • Tom Swift – 32 year old former West Coast Eagle AFL (34 games) and last played with University Blacks in VAFA in 2019 (Will wear jumper number 17)
  • Lachlan Slorach – 28 year old defender who returns from Navarre FC – played 32 senior games at BHFNC including 2019 premiership (will wear jumper number 31)
  • Benjamin O’Sullivan – 21 year old midfielder from Kolora Noorat FC where he has played 76 senior games including their 2017 premiership (Will wear jumper number 26)
  • Jack Blackburn – 27 year old winger from Ballarat Swans FC where he played 87 senior games (Will wear jumper number 12)
  • Cameron O’Leary – 28 year old former BHFNC Club Captain and B & F returns after playing for Palm Beach (QAFL) in 2022 (Will wear jumper number 37)

In addition, the club is very excited to welcome back returning junior players Charlie Farrer, Sebastian Alvarez De Toledo, Jye Bartley, Leo Burgess, Harvey Lardner and Will Duncombe.

Our 2023 SENIOR COACHES Mitch Herbison and Sam Schaller added the following summary:

Wednesday November 16th on a chilly night at the Barwon Heads FC we started our preparation to defend our premiership. Whilst we welcomed back the boys from 2022, there was a host of new faces looking forward to making BHFC home. As coaches, Herbi and myself could not have been more impressed with how the pre Christmas training block went. We are extremely fortunate to have great assistant coaches supporting us in James Garvey, Matty Scarlett and Ned Aulsebrook to share the load and help deliver the plan we hope takes us back to where we want to be.

Close to 70 players have taken part in pre season training so far with 35-40 attending consistently each night. It’s been great to see the new boys who have come in fit in so well to the group. They have all brought not just great football talent, but great personalities to our group and are a great group to coach. We wrapped up our pre season Christmas training block on December 15 with a combined session with our senior netballers and women footballers which was well attended and a great way to sign off on 2022. We’ve been really fortunate to retain 95% of our playing list from 2022 and as mentioned above, have been able to add some real high quality recruits (as posted across our social media over the last few months) who will not only strengthen our senior side but the club as a whole. There will be plenty of exciting additions for the supporters on the hill to become familiar with and hopefully some who may even rival the cult status of Sammy Baker !!!

Our break over the Christmas / New Year period will hopefully allow everyone to relax, recharge and most importantly spend time with their families. We resume training again on January 23rd and not long after that we have our camp down in Lorne before we begin our practice matches. Our sponsors, supporters and members will be able to get a first glimpse of the 2023 squad when we play the following home practice games:

Saturday 4th March v Spotswood (WRFL)

Friday 17th March – Intra Club

Saturday 25th March v Altona (WRFL 2022 Premiers)

Saturday 1st April Round 1v Drysdale @ Drysdale

We look forward to a successful 2023 season.


Sam Schaller & Mitch Herbison.