MELTON South coach Mathew Sutton has sworn to reverse the culture of his club in a bid to see it become a respected side in the Ballarat Football League.
Admitting past indiscretions on the field had tarnished the Panthers’ reputation, Sutton said a number of players that did not fit in with the future direction of the club had been dropped.
Sutton also conceded he had probably made the wrong decision in accepting the senior coaching job last year, but felt the club was now in the perfect decision to move forward.
“To be honest, I probably took a coaching job I shouldn’t have,” said the father-of-three.
“I think it was a bigger job than I expected, which wasn’t ideal in the same year I was trying to start up my own business and raise a family.
“Now I know what it involves and feel I’m in a much better position to help drive the club forward.”
Announcing plans to pull on the boots again in 2014, despite announcing his retirement mid-way through last season, Sutton said a series of football seminars over the summer gave him some feedback on exactly how the club was perceived by Ballarat-based clubs.
To put it simply, Sutton said, opposition players and coaches “didn’t hold back”.
“It’s up to us to change it, a lot of what they said was probably right,” he said.
“The biggest thing to me in life and footy is respect. We don’t want that rubbish on the ground, we don’t want the rubbish with the umpires.
“Some of the players didn’t fit that mould. You don’t have to be the best player at the club, but if you’re not playing the right way then there’s no point being around the club.”
Anthony Christofaro is the biggest name to leave the club, as he heads to Yarraville, but Sutton said the door was always open for him to return.
Melton South has welcomed VFL Werribee Tigers trio Shaun White, Matt Sullivan and Anthony Piva to the Panthers’ den on a full-time basis for the season, while also rolling down the welcome mat for Mark Russell, who Sutton said was set for his biggest year of footy after two seasons off.
Melton South will start its 2014 campaign against Ballarat on Saturday, April 12.