Story

Shane Valenti at full stretch for Port Melbourne.Shane Valenti at full stretch for Port Melbourne.

From localfooty.com.au and the Port Phillip Leader
Reported by Paul Amy
 
GARY Ayres often refers to Shane Valenti as “the little champ’’.

“I love him,’’ the Port Melbourne mentor has said more than once in the past few months, reflecting an affection that coaches reserve for players who won them premierships.

But Ayres has applied some “tough love’’ to Valenti as the two-time JJ Liston Trophy winner embarks on a comeback to the VFL at the age of 30.

Valenti left Port at the end of the end of the 2014 season after a 149-game career that earned him a string of accolades.

He joined Noble Park in 2015, only to suffer a serious injury to his left knee.

After a reconstruction, Valenti resumed playing last season at Old Haileybury in the VAFA. But as early as last September’s Liston count he was making noises about rejoining the Borough.

He signed a few days ago after a pre-season in which he admits he had some “touchy’’ talks with his 2011 premiership coach.

Valenti said Ayres presented him with “what if’’ scenarios that he sometimes didn’t want to hear.

What if you’ve lost a bit of your nip?

What if the knee doesn’t hold up?

And what if you have to play in the Development League?

Ayres said he didn’t want the comeback to “end in tears’’.

Valenti was still one of the best on-ballers in the VFL when he left Port Melbourne.

As he returns, Ayres imagines a Borough midfield that could include St Kilda recruits Eli Templeton and Brodie Murdoch, Carlton signing Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, stalwarts Toby Pinwill, Chris Cain and Sam Dwyer, Shannen Lange, Mitch Golby, two other returnees in “Rockin’’ Robin Nahas and Mitch Wooffindin, Tom O’Sullivan, Matthew Arnott, Mack Rivett, Leigh Osborne and Alex Urban.

Shane Valenti has returned to Port Melbourne after two years out of the VFL.

But Valenti is backing himself to win back his senior position. He said his knee was fine, he was in good shape and he was ready for the challenge of returning to a competition mostly populated by players under the age of 23.

“Very happy to be back and chasing, I guess, one last bit of success in the VFL and Port Melbourne,’’ he said.

“It’s a massive challenge. They’ve got a good side. We had a game yesterday (intra-club) and they’ve got good depth, a lot of depth.

“I don’t think I’ve lost it. It’s a matter of getting used to the speed and the standard. I’m feeling really good, conditioning-wise, strength-wise.’’

Valenti said his discussions with Ayres had been “a little bit touchy at times’’. The coach never left it unmentioned when Valenti missed a training session with work.

“Yeah, I won’t lie. He’s put it out there, it is what is, you’re coming back from injury, two years out, you’re a bit older. Obviously these things don’t always pan out the way you want, and he made me aware of what could happen. But I think he’s got confidence in me to perform, and that’s what I’ll do.’’

Valenti said he was impressed at Port Melbourne’s squad, noting a blend of experience and youth. “It’s always hard, but I think we can have a crack at it if everything goes well.’’

Ayres said this morning that “as much as I love him’’, he had told Valenti he had to open his mind to the possibility of playing in the reserves.

If it comes to that, Ayres will understand the sting: after five day and five night premierships, the Hawthorn selectors spelled him late in his career.

Ayres said he’d reminded Valenti that the standard of the VFL had picked up considerably in the past two years.

“I’ve had to make him fully aware of where things are at,’’ he said.

“He’s one of those boys I’ll always have a deep affection for, because they went way over and above and did something so special for the club over a long period of time.

“Shane was a massive part of that and that’s why I’m hoping like hell he can play his very, very best.’’

Valenti won his second Liston Trophy’s in Port’s premier-and-champion 2011 season.

 

blackrocker
Last seen: 17 hours 50 min ago
Joined: 16/05/2005 - 00:00
Posts: 718

My best wishes to S V for a successful couple of seasons. I liked his style.

MegaA's picture
MegaA
Last seen: 19 hours 51 min ago
Joined: 12/10/2012 - 23:04
Posts: 862

Taking into consideration a lack of football in the past two season, Ports strong recruitement and Shanes aging injury prone body I think it will be difficult for Shane to cement a spot in the firsts. This is no revelation as the article also says Gary questioned him on his comeback to Port. I think he is a handy back up though and may prove usefell if Port sustains a few injuries (as has been the case the past few seasons).

My prediction - 12 senior games. Id like to be proven wrong and see him play all 18, + the major semi, + prelim + final.

He also did some air time yesterday talking about his comeback... when asked what brought him back to Port he stated "The tradition.. the people associated with the club, this place is a little different, they do things their own way,  once you have been there for a few years its hard to get away, you see past players coming back to watch, its a real community, a real family"

I hope Digs has taken a anti anxiety tablet when reading this as I know he will have a heart attack hearing that somebody is playing for Port out of love for the club - some believe that they only play for the $$$ (which they don't have much of anyway

 

Inteviewer - "I thnk theirs some arrogance about Port where other clubs and supporters are jealous of it"

 

S. Valenti " Absolutely, its a arrogance that is a quiet confidence and good to be part of it when it is up and going its a juggernaut which we want to get going again this year"

37 times Grand finalists
16 times premiers
21 times runners up - THE MIGHTY BOROUGH!

I'M PORT MELBURNE BORN,
I'M PORT MELBOURNE BRED,
I'LL BE PORT UNTIL I'M DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NorthPort's picture
NorthPort
Last seen: 2 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: 03/11/2003 - 00:00
Posts: 8427

I thought Shane spoke well too.

The depth in Ports midfield will make spots / selection fiercely contested. I think you're about right MegaA with the dozen games assessment.

Tonight was my first chance to get down to the club to have a look. Practice matches and the season can't come soon enough!







MegaA's picture
MegaA
Last seen: 19 hours 51 min ago
Joined: 12/10/2012 - 23:04
Posts: 862

"Practice matches and the season can't come soon enough!:"

I agree - looking forward to it - we are abit fortunate that we got our first game moved to one week earlier, hopefully being a stand alone game for the weekend we can get a bigger crowd - 2k over optimistic ?? Gave the club money for a gold membership today, might buy a standard one for this season down the track.

37 times Grand finalists
16 times premiers
21 times runners up - THE MIGHTY BOROUGH!

I'M PORT MELBURNE BORN,
I'M PORT MELBOURNE BRED,
I'LL BE PORT UNTIL I'M DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

digs
Last seen: 9 hours 31 min ago
Joined: 31/05/2007 - 00:00
Posts: 3563

Great stuff Mega !!

ive just put the hanky away after reading the Garrry & Shane love story.

Valenti WAS a wonderful player but 12 current day games ?????

Anyway I've put your predictions into the memory bank.

We might be from the bush. but we ain't green

MegaA's picture
MegaA
Last seen: 19 hours 51 min ago
Joined: 12/10/2012 - 23:04
Posts: 862

What's your prediction Digs ? Might be worth betting a beautiful borough burger ?

37 times Grand finalists
16 times premiers
21 times runners up - THE MIGHTY BOROUGH!

I'M PORT MELBURNE BORN,
I'M PORT MELBOURNE BRED,
I'LL BE PORT UNTIL I'M DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!