Cats add some class

Updated: November 28, 2015
Lara recruits Aiden Yelland (far left), Tony Armstrong and Josh Childs pictured with coach Adrian McBean. Picture: AL PACKER
Lara recruits Aiden Yelland (far left), Tony Armstrong and Josh Childs pictured with coach Adrian McBean. Picture: AL PACKER

Lara recruits Aiden Yelland (left), Tony Armstrong and Josh Child pictured with coach Adrian McBean. Picture: AL PACKER

LARA has landed the GFL’s first major off-season recruiting blow by signing former Collingwood, Sydney and Adelaide defender Tony Armstrong.

A chance meeting with fellow recruits Aiden Yelland and Josh Child in Yarrawonga set the wheels in motion for Armstrong to join the reigning GFL wooden-spooner.

“Joel mentioned coming down here, and then Adrian (coach McBean) got on the blower,” Armstrong said of the approach.

“After meeting with the guys a few times, what the club’s trying to do and the type of people that they were, was what attracted me down here.

“(I’m) really looking forward to being part of hopefully something really special in the next few years.”

Armstrong played 35 AFL games – six with the Magpies, 15 at the Swans and 14 at the Crows – after debuting in 2010.

He played just the one game in 2015 with Collingwood, but helped the Magpies VFL team to a finals berth.

The 26-year-old is looking forward to playing in Victorian country football’s leading competition.

“I knew it was one of the big 3-4 country leagues, but I didn’t realise it was at the apex,” Armstrong said.

“I guess that was another thing that got me over the line, I didn’t want to step off from playing reasonable footy to going out to playing nowhere and getting frustrated with the standard.

“I’ve still got the hunger and desire to improve myself and play well.

“Coming to a comp like this, I’ll be challenged every week, that’s another thing that got me down here.”

McBean is more than happy to have Armstrong at the Snakepit.

“He’s a really good leader, and from what I’ve heard through AFL circles, he’s got a really great voice out on the field,” McBean said.

“He’s very smart on the field, makes great decisions, plays half-back – knows how to play it as well – we can see him playing that role with us.

“Obviously we need that experience and leadership as well. He certainly lifts the culture and brings a pretty strong trademark to us.”

Originally from Murray league club Numurkah, Child spent 2014-15 with Centrals Trinity Beach in the Cairns competition.

He kicked 45 goals this year, including a haul of 11.

However, his appearances with the Cats will be limited due to his role as a development coach with TAC Cup club Western Jets.

“It’s something Adrian and I spoke about from the outset.

“As life goes on, works needs to take priority over football at times.

“I still wanted to play the best level of footy I know I can and wanted to challenge myself still, and the opportunity to play with Lara, and Adrian giving me that opportunity to play when I’m available, I took it with both hands.

Child, who has three knee reconstructions – two on right knee and one on his left, and has LARS ligaments on both – can play both up forward and in the midfield.

“Speaking with Adrian, (I’ll) probably pinch-hit both,” he said.

“My trade is down forward a lot of the time, and I’ve in the past kicked goals, but I guess as I’ve gotten fitter I’m able to go through the midfield as well.

“Modern day football is about being able to play multiple positions, so I’d see myself as maybe a 50-50 up forward and swapping midfielder.

“If not, try and sneak a bit more time in the forward line and rest the old legs.”

As well as the arrival of Armstrong and Child, Lara confirmed the signing of former Northern Knights’ TAC Cup player Josh Alexander, who spent this year with Hampden league club South Warrnambool.

The Cats have already announced the addition of Yelland, Anakie big man Luke Wilson and Aaron Smith from the Essendon and District league.

Add the recovery of Dylan Jose and Dan Green from injury, and the return of Daniel Weigl and Matt Spence from overseas, and there are heightened expectations at Bisinella Oval.

“Like every other club, is we want to play finals football, and Tony and Joel will be a big part of that,” McBean said.

“Tony’s really big on winning and a winning a culture.

“Being at Collingwood, Adelaide and Sydney, and being under Nathan (Buckley) the last two years, he’ll really drive that for us and we need that mentality, with the year we had, that we need to win games.”

Twitter: @tom_king79