Champion ruckman Orren Stephenson and North Ballarat Football Club have finally formally parted ways.
Stephenson and the NBFC board each confirmed that the parties had reached agreement, leading to his release to Redan in the Ballarat Football League.
He told The Courier that all he wanted to do was put the episode behind him and get on with playing with the Lions.
A three-time VFL premiership player with the Roosters and VFL life member, Stephenson announced his retirement from North Ballarat as a VFL player and assistant coach early in May.
However, his departure and move to Redan became anything but a smooth transition when the NBFC board announced he would not be cleared until “some residual contractual issues” were resolved – a situation which frustrated and upset Stephenson.
He still managed to play two games with Redan in this period, with North Ballarat providing a local interchange release for encounters with Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh.
Stephenson, 34, said he was disappointed that it had happened, but it had now been sorted and he was no longer on the Roosters’ list.
“I’m just happy to be able to move on.”
Stephenson’s focus now is getting fit again to enable a return for Redan, where was a two-time premiership player before embarking on a VFL career with North Ballarat, and also playing in the AFL with Geelong and Richmond over three seasons.
He suffered back-related hamstring soreness early in the first quarter against Bacchus Marsh on Saturday, June 3, and missed Redan’s loss to Sunbury last weekend.
He will miss Saturday’s vital clash with Melton South as well, but is hopeful of resuming after that.
“I’m not far away.”
As well as playing, Stephenson said he was also looking forward to an unofficial mentoring role with the Lions.