Hillside adds depth and experience

Joel Bonnici is set to rejoin his former club, Hillside. Picture Shawn Smits.

By Tara Murray

Hillside has looked to add some experience to its squad for this year’s Essendon District Football League division 1 season.

Having finished fifth last year, the Sharks showed they could match it with the top sides, but let slip some matches they should have won.

While they’ve lost a couple of their bigger-name players, the Sharks have been working hard to put together a squad that will challenge for finals. New coach Charlie Denaro said they were happy with how things had gone so far.

He was appointed later than most coaches, but said he didn’t think that had set them back.

“I was still in the club anyway and the club didn’t sit back and started the recruiting process before I was appointed,” he said.

“We’ve pretty much got the players we were after. I think we’ve got five or six players who come into the club, who we think can play a lot of senior footy.

“There’s maybe another one or two on the horizon.”

Former VFL player Hisham Kerbatieh headlines the signings for the Sharks.

He had been playing in the EDFL premier division when he wasn’t playing VFL. Denaro said Kerbatieh had decided not to play VFL this year.

“He just wants to focus on local footy,” Denaro said

. “He has been torn apart playing local and VFL for a number of years now, so he wants to focus all his energies and play for Hillside.

“He has been fantastic at the moment, been great in everything he has done so far Josh Trembearth, who has played premier division the past few years, is another player to sign with the Sharks.

Other signings include Lachlan Hensen and Bryson Scales.

The Sharks are confident that former captain Joel Bonnici will be back in Hillside colours.

Bonnici spent last season at Tullamarine, which has denied two clearances to return to his former club.

Denaro said there was a bit of work to do before having Bonnici cleared.

“We’ll try and get things done with Tullamarine and we’ll bide our time.

“He has been fantastic and he wants to finish his football with Hillside, he’s got a lot of friends here.

“He has not missed a beat and will be a good addition and will give us a bit of experience that we need.”

Bonnici’s return is much needed, with the Sharks losing last season’s captain Victor Micallef and star forward Brandon Coletta – both moving to East Keilor.

Denaro said they couldn’t replace players like those two.

“I think people like that are hard to replace, but we can get people around who can play the roles they did and they can grow into them.

“Hopefully [they’ll] be equally as good in a few years.”

Denaro said they know the task will be hard but are aiming for finals, with East Keilor the team to beat.

“Pat [Christofi] has done a fantastic job,” he said. “He is really lifting the standard, not just at his club, but every division 1 club is following suit.

“We’ll be trying to sneak into that third or fourth spot, bit of luck who knows how far we can go.”