BEN Speight will not return to Wangaratta in 2018.
A pilot by trade, Speight left no stone unturned in his search for a piloting job that would release him to return to the Norm Minns Oval on Saturdays and help the Magpies’ in their premiership defence.
But the former AFL and VFL midfielder will play at Bacchus Marsh in 2018 with the Cobras’ affiliation with a flying company a key reason behind Speight’s move.
Speight won his first senior premiership with Wangaratta in 2017, and played a key role throughout the season and the finals series to make sure the Magpies finished as premiers.
A huge last quarter against Corowa Rutherglen in Judd and Daine Porter’s 250th match stands out in round nine, while Speight’s skill and poise to launch two long range goals in the grand final kept Albury at bay long enough for Wangaratta to claim victory.
Speight booted 42 goals in 2017 with that void a great opportunity for the Magpies’ youth to step up.
Brad Melville, Jessie Smith, Nick Richards, Joe Richards and Daniel Sharrock are poised for big years and all will need to step up and fill the gap Speight has left.
Speight’s departure is the sixth such occurrence from the 2017 premiership side with Josh Porter returning to Werribee, Daine and Judd Porter retiring, Tom Whittlesea returning to South Australia and Nick Richards signing at Williamstown, with Wangaratta as his home club.