Sebastopol, redan keep seasoned campaigners on board

STAYING: no stopping Brett Goodes, left, and Orren Stephenson.
STAYING: no stopping Brett Goodes, left, and Orren Stephenson.

AFL experienced veterans Brett Goodes and Orren Stephenson will play on for another year in the Ballarat Football League.

Goodes, 33, has recommitted to Sebastopol, while 35-year-old Stephenson has re-signed with Redan. 

Goodes’ decision to go around again is the final piece in the jigsaw for the Burra, which was desperately keen to keep him on board alongside major signings Tony Lockyer, Matt Austin, James Keeble and Lachie Cassidy –  all off North Ballarat Roosters’ former VFL list.

Sebastopol recruiting panel member Shawne Dummett said retaining Goodes for a third year at the club was exciting news.

He said Goodes had been a valuable acquisition for the Burra and it was great to still have him around.

Dummett said Goodes had taken a pay cut to stay – highlighting his commitment and desire to help lift the club.

He said Goodes would also have a development role with the club’s under-18.5s, with this being an area he was eager to get involved in.

Like Stephenson, Goodes had an injury interrupted 2017 season with a calf strain restricting him to just seven games.

Stephenson returned to Redan, where he played in two premierships, early last season after ending his VFL career with the Roosters.

He struggled with a back-related hamstring, which kept him to eight games with the Lions.

Stephenson said a desire to play an injury-free season had been among the reasons for extending his career.

He said despite the frustrations of injury, he was still enjoying playing and looking forward to lining up with a new breed of Redan players, with more than 10 youngsters having made their senior debuts last season.

Stephenson said he was as keen as ever and rapt to be back on the track for pre-season training. “I really didn’t get going (last season) and we didn’t finish the year as well as we should have.”

Goodes and Stephenson have many parallels in their football backgrounds.

Goodes played in two VFL flags with North Ballarat before being rookie drafted by the Western Bulldogs at the age of 28.

He made his AFL debut at 29 and went on to play 22 AFL games.

Goodes played in another VFL premiership with Footscray, in which he was best on the ground, before moving to Sebastopol.

Stephenson played in three VFL premierships with the Roosters before being by Geelong at the age of 29 – making him oldest first-time draftee in AFL draft history.

He made eight AFL appearances with Geelong and another seven with Richmond before returning to North Ballarat.

While at the Cats he also played in a VFL premiership.