Feathers fly at season opener

Magpie young gun Archie Rixon looks for an option as his teammate tackles his Maryborough opponent. Photo: Max Lesser

Castlemaine Football Netball Club hosted Maryborough FNC in a massive opening round blockbuster at the Camp Reserve on Good Friday.

The venue was filled to capacity as footy and netball fans celebrated the launch of the 2024 season with the league’s two Magpie clubs going head-to-head.

CFNC has been hard at work throughout the pre-season across both football and netball, evidenced by a number of new coaching and recruitment announcements in the past months.

Football fans were excited to see new senior coach Michael Hartley make his debut.

The ex-Hawthorn/Essendon AFL player has had a successful pre-season at the club. The squad attended a football camp at Elphinstone earlier in the year and had two practise matches against Wycheproof-Narraport FNC and Kerang FNC, both of which they won.

The 2023 player list recommitted and the side also welcomed local talent to the nest including Kal Huntly, Darby Semmens, Will Moran, Declan Slingo, Tyson Williams and Douglas Gray.

Zave Murley, while new to the club, has high local pedigree in the BFNL, while Zach Greeves and Ryan Eyre have also been added to the list through connections with the Magpies’ new senior development coach and former player Harmit Singh.

The Maryborough Magpies also came to impress and got the jump on the home side early kicking four goals to Castlemaine’s three to hold a slender five-point lead at quarter time.

Both sides lifted in the second term, Castlemaine adding four goals and Maryborough answering with three.

At half time the tables had turned, and Castlemaine held a two-point buffer.

In the third quarter Castlemaine stepped up the pace kicking another four goals to the Borough’s two and had extended their lead to 25 points at the final change.

Castlemaine got on with the job in the last term slamming on another six goals while Maryborough only managed a point.

Castlemaine claimed the win by 69 points.

New coach Michael Hartley led the way with 5, Bailey Henderson chipped in 5 and new recruit Zach Greeves kicked 4, Callum McConachy 2, Ben McConachy 2 and Darby Semmens 1.

Kalan Huntly has returned to the Magpie lineup in 2024 and made a positive impact for CFNC in the midfield. Photo: Max Lesser

The Castlemaine Reserves also claimed a first up win under new coach, CFNC premiership player and long-time club person, Frank Byrne, to the tune of an impressive 88 points.

Ben Moran was outstanding kicking 6, Aidan Goddard kicked 3, Kyan Martin 2, Aidan Douglas 2 and Dylan Hickey and Wilson Staples 1 each.

The Castlemaine Under 18s, coached by ex-VFL local and Magpie senior player Bailey Henderson, also produced a fantastic first up win to the delight of local fans.

The young side trailed early in the match with the Maryborough Magpies digging deep and making an impact on the scoreboard to lead up to half time.

But Castlemaine fought back in the third term and held a five-point buffer at the final change before smashing on another three goals to win by seven points.

The CFNC netball season is shaping up to be another positive and successful year for the club, with a top-five finish expected for both A squad teams yet again, and a much more positive outlook for B squad teams this year as well.

Exciting things are also happening in CFNCs junior netball space with a 17&U team full to the brim with new young talent, and a 15&U development team for the first time in a number of years, who will compete in the CVNA winter competition on a Friday night in Bendigo. This new look squad will be coached by Charlotte McMurray and Kyla Byrne.

The Castlemaine Magpie netballers kicked off the day by celebrating the 200-game milestone of club stalwart Taylah Sartori with flowers and a guard of honour.

Castlemaine Magpie netballer Taylah Sartori celebrated her 200th game with a guard of honour. Photo: Max Lesser

The 17&U netballers were the first to hit the court and a epic showdown ensued with Maryborough eventually getting over the line 61 to 53.

The Castlemaine B-reserve team turned the tables winning their match 48-41.

Castlemaine’s B-grade side were also impressive claiming another win 34-29 in a low-scoring battle.

Maryborough’s A-reserve side produced a dominant display to win that contest 56 to 38.

The Castlemaine A-grade side will have to wait until round two to test the waters with Maryborough FNC not fielding a team in 2024.

The Castlemaine Senior women’s football side and defending 2023 premiers will play their season opener this Sunday April 7 against Sandhurst at Ewing Park at 1pm.

The Magpie Under 18 women’s football side will also hit the park for the first time this Sunday April 7 against Sandhurst at the same venue at 11.15am.

Castlemaine’s Paige Mitchener is pictured in action against Maryborough. Photo: Max Lesser