Ballarat Football League representative player Matthew Notman is leaving Melton to return to crosstown rival Melton South.
Notman said he had always intended to go back to where he started.
The 26-year-old, who makes the move after four years with the Bloods, said it had been just a matter of when.
“It’s a tough decision. I’ve got a lot of good mates at Melton.”
Notman said the opportunity to get involved in coaching in what was shaping as an exciting time for the Panthers had been a key factor in making the move now.
He said he was also been keen to play with best friend and this year’s Melton South captain Shaun White again before that chance was gone.
Notman has accepted an assistant coaching role to Brendan Fevola and Sean Triplett, with a focus on the midfield.
He said he was looking forward to learning about the coaching trade under the highly experienced duo with what remained a largely young playing group.
Notman spent three years as part of the Western Jets’ TAC Cup program at the end of his Melton South junior days.
This enabled him to play a handful of games with Williamstown before he joined fellow VFL team Werribee for two seasons.
He returned to Melton South and won a senior best and fairest before joining Melton in 2013.
The midfielder is highly regarded in the BFL, having been a regular interleague representative throughout his time with the Bloods – including this year’s clash with Western Region in the inaugural AFL Victoria Community Championship.
Triplett said it was great to be getting former players back to the club.
He said as well as introducing experience and new blood, attracting players who had spent the earlier part of their career with the Panthers had also been a major objective in rebuilding the team.
Triplett said Notman would be a great addition.
The signing of Notman continues a fruitful recruiting campaign, which was sparked by the appointment of Fevola.
The Panthers have also picked Essendon District Football league star Mark Lynch, well credenitalled EDFL and Western Regional league veteran Shannon Broadbent, brothers Adam Houli and Mozzie Houli via the WRFL and EDFL, and former club best and fairest Ben Peters.
Triplett said Melton South still had a few more recruits to come to complete its player list.
The Panthers went winless in the BFL this year.