South Croydon flag winner joins Rosellas
He wasn’t quite a walk-in-off-the-street signing.
But it’s true Cheltenham had a dollop of luck in recruiting Ben McDonald.
He’d moved into the area and had some friends who knew people attached to the Rosellas.
A connection established, his name and number were passed on to senior coach Des Ryan.
The call was made. McDonald went to training, liked what he saw and officially became a Cheltenham player yesterday.
He’s a significant inclusion: in 2017 McDonald figured in South Croydon’s Eastern league Division 1 premiership, often described as a “fairytale flag’’.
Coached by Leigh “Patch’’ Adams, the Bulldogs boldly and brilliantly rose to their first grand final victory in the top grade, defeating Vermont. McDonald was named their second-best player.
South Croydon celebrates its 2015 premiership.
He joins a club that won its last top-division premiership in 1934.
“Yeah, Des was telling me that when I first chatted to him, that it’s been a long time,’’ McDonald said this morning.
“Hopefully history can repeat and there’s another historic win coming up.’’
McDonald is from NSW and joined South Croydon in 2016. He said his three-year stay with the club was memorable and he thought about it often.
“I have little flashbacks about it. It’s the highlight of my footy career, particularly where we came from … it meant a lot to so many people,’’ he said.
“It was an incredible year and an incredible day. Great club, great culture. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone there, the players, the volunteers, the supporters.’’
McDonald took 2019 off and intended to play alongside former South Croydon teammate and VFL JJ Liston Trophy champion Myles Sewell at Newlyn in the Central Highlands league in 2020.
“Just thought I’d play some country footy and have a run in a different league and enjoy a bit of a different vibe,’’ he said.
“Obviously that all fell through.’’
McDonald said he had been reading up on the Southern league and Cheltenham, and believed he was joining a strong club and competition.
“I’m super-keen to get amongst it,’’ he said.
Ryan said the club was thrilled to land McDonald, whom he described as a dependable senior player who could slot into the backline.
“We did some match simulation the other night … he looked very steady and composed,’’ he said.
“I think he’s the sort of player who’ll get the job done and you don’t have to worry about.’’
He said McDonald’s premiership experience at South Croydon would be handy to a team with so many young players.