Parkes Panthers men's side return to Central West AFL competition after one year absence

The Parkes Panthers has announced they have a senior men’s side that will line up next to their female counterparts for the 2018 Central West AFL season.

It’s a more promising outlook for the club compared to this time last year when the men’s team was forced to withdraw from the senior competition due to lack of numbers.

The women’s side was the only Parkes AFL team to play last season.

“If you haven't heard, it’s time you did! AFL is alive and well in Parkes,” Parkes Panthers representative Jake Adams said.

“With training underway, the men are queuing up for another crack at the Central West AFL season.”

An annual general meeting held in early January secured a new-look committee with Evan Ralph locking down the presidency, taking over from long-serving Marc Ralph who will help guide his son from the vice presidency role.

As usual Ron Hethrington will spearhead the treasury, while supports by Renee Cope as secretary.

Two new roles have been created as team managers Tim Barber and Felicity Ralph look to keep the teams together throughout the year representing the playing bodies.

“It’s great to see such strong representation for the club,” Evan Ralph said.

“It will be great to work together and lighten the load on each other which we may have struggled with in the past.”

Ralph – who will be playing this season and is the women’s coach – is excited for what’s ahead for the men’s and women’s teams.

“The women put together a really strong maiden year, as I was on the sideline for it, I saw huge development,” he said.

“There is no reason the ladies can’t double their winning margin from last year.”

Ralph was more coy about the men.

“The men’s side has been a basket case! It’s always hard to lock them down for a year,” he said.

“In saying that we have some marquee players returning and our spine looks strong, only time will tell.”

Previous senior men’s captain Brent Tucker returns after a stellar year playing for the Orange Tigers. He brings with him representative ruckman Jake Adams, who also had a standout year, claiming best on ground in the CWAFL vs Northern Riverina in Ungarie and an Isaac Connel medal for best on ground in Dubbo against Tumbarumba. Both polled inside the top 10 at the end of year MVP.

Mitchel Stubberfield also returns after a year at his home club Tullibegeal where he also had representative duties and polled in the top three in the league MVP. He also finished with a premiership.

Zac Bayliss was on representative duties, playing the half back line and playing for the Bathurst Giants in season proper. He returns to the Panthers with Brad Wales, Tim Barber and Reuben Bondareff from the Giants.

The Panthers men are looking to add depth with regular stalwarts Nathaniel Dixon, Brad Fletcher, Shane Apsey and Ben Cusack, who are all ready to get back on board.

Both men and women began on the training track on February 7 and are training twice a week. Everyone is invited to Northparkes Oval to have a run and show their support for the Panthers’ 2018 season.

Good luck to both sides and fans can follow the Parkes Panthers on Facebook to stay in the loop.

The first game of the season will be April 28.