THE Hume Football League post season recruiting has been on in earnest with both Culcairn and Holbrook announcing coaches for 2018.
The Lions have gone with former Holbrook 2004 premiership player ,Josh Hillary, to take over from Brendan Way and Adam Eady.
Hillary has spent the last four years at Jerilderie in the Picola Football League including 2017 as coach of the Demons where he also played in a premiership in 2014.
He also played in the Lavington premiership of 2001 in the O and M Football League and further success coaching the Albury reserves to a flag in 2013.
Hillary’s wife has strong connections to the Lions with her relatives including the Schultz and Lee families who have been stalwarts of the club.
Culcairn’s only confirmed departure is forward Peter Cook, who is returning home to coach Barnawartha in the Tallangatta DFL.
The Lions, who boasted the league’s leading goal kicker in John Robbins, also had the dynamic midfield of Jye Shields, Dane and Tim Hallinan.
Shields who finished runner up in the Azzi Medal also took out the club’s best and fairest to complete a brilliant season.
Hillary, who had an injury interrupted season with Jerilderie, is still unsure if he will continue his playing career.
Culcairn after finishing the home and away season in fifth place, finished strongly to win its first two finals before losing to Jindera in the preliminary final.
In what is expected to be another very even season in 2018, Hillary is hoping the momentum the Lions built in 2017 will see them progress even further.
The Lions’ fortunes could well depend on the continued improvement of youngsters Nick Wright, Joel Merkel, James Pitson, Hayden Smith and Joel Feuerherdt.
HOLBROOK has boosted its 2018 finals prospects by signing Lavington midfield pair Matthew Sharp and Sam Harris.
Sharp will be co-coach alongside Adrian Whitehead who will be doing a third year at the Brookers as coach.
Harris will join Curtis Steele as an assistant coach and add much needed on field experience to the current list.
Holbrook Football Club president David Morton said the co-coach set should be perfect fit for the young Brookers.
“Adrian has done a terrific job in the last two years educating and guiding the group,” Morton said.
“We think by having Matt Sharp directing the on-field leadership it will be huge advantage working in conjunction with Adrian off field,” he said.
Sharp, originally from Violet Town, played senior football under former Holbrook champion Noel Coutts who was coaching at Violet Town. Coutts is a three-time winner of the Azzi Medal.
He then moved to Benalla playing in the Goulburn Valley Football League alongside Harris. Sharp played at Benalla for six years where he won the 2010 best and fairest.
Sharp next stop was in the AFL ACT competition where he spent three years at Belconnen winning a best and fairest in 2012.
The midfielder has spent the last three years at Lavington as assistant coach. He played in the Panthers two runners up grand finals against Albury in 2015 and 2016.
“Sam and I have been mates for a long time and we are really looking forward to getting Holbrook into finals contention,” Sharp said.
“They are a great family club with a strong following and look like they have an abundance of local talent to work with,” he said.
Both Harris and Sharp have strong connections with Holbrook footballers who play cricket with them at Lavington in Cricket Albury Wodonga.
The Brookers who were right in contention for a finals spot, fell away in the last third of the season where they lost six straight games – four of those by under 10 points.
They have retained all players from last season and are still actively searching to top up with a few more recruits.
Brad Carmen took out the senior best and fairest with Andrew Mackinlay runner-up, and Curtis Steele one vote behind in third place.