Stanhope prepares for 100th season in Kyabram District League

By Shepparton News

Stanhope has reunited the club’s most recent premiership coach and a former star player to try to relive some glory days as it prepares for its centenary season in the Kyabram District League next year.

Club legend and the last man to lead Stanhope to a flag, Mark Patten, will share the senior coaching role with another former Lions great, Dennis Grinton.

Their positions are non-playing roles.

Patten was coach when Stanhope won its last flag in 2008. Grinton missed that flag through injury, but took the club’s best-and-fairest award the previous season and in Patten’s opinion is ‘‘one of the best players to have ever played in the Kyabram league’’.

Patten, 56, is the most successful coach in Stanhope’s history, taking the club into five grand finals and winning three flags — in 2003, 2007 and 2008 — during a nine-year coaching stint from 2002 to 2010.

He has since coached neighbouring Kyabram District League club Girgarre and also Stanhope’s reserves.

Patten and Grinton are close friends from their days playing together, initially with the defunct Northern United in the Bendigo league, at Stanhope and also Mount Pleasant in the Heathcote and Kyabram District leagues.

‘‘We go back a long way and first met when playing for Northern United in 1988 and have crossed paths ever since,’’ Patten said.

Patten said he would be sticking to a policy of promoting Stanhope players, but said the club would also work on gaining a few recruits to try to build on its fourth place finish this season.

‘‘I’ve always had the opinion 70 to 75 per cent should be locals and I’ll be sticking to that policy,’’ he said.

Patten and Grinton take over from Cobey Aynsley, who was reappointed for a second year during this year’s finals series, but recently had an amicable split with the club over issues related to what was the best way forward for the club.

The Lions also have a new president, with hard-working secretary for the past six years Jason Leocata stepping up to take over from the popular Damian Miller, who stepped down after two years at the helm.

Stanhope has already started training for next season under the new coaches.