THE Goulburn Valley Football League's has been boosted by Peter "Chopper" White's return to club ranks at the Rochester Tigers.
The Kyabram-based journeyman embarked on his 30th year of coaching as Rochester kicked off its 2012 campaign with an 11-point triumph over Shepparton United on Good Friday.
The Tigers upset the two-time reigning premier 15.10 (100) to 13.11 (89).
After coaching Goulburn Valley's championship-winning interleague teams in 2010 and last year, White said he was loving the return to weekly involvement at club level "especially at Rochy as it's such a well-run club".
Along with the recruitment of ex-AFL pair Justin Murphy by Tatura and Paul Licuria by Mansfield, White's signing was big news during the countdown to the League's Easter opening round.
"We were outed in the first week of the finals last year and expectations are high (for 2012)," White said.
"I believe I have something to offer and judging by the way the guys have trained since well before Christmas, they're prepared to do the work to get the reward."
With two premierships at Merrigum (1986-87) and another with Kyabram (1996) to go with his interleague successes, White has a winning formula based around preparation, trust and team.
"Rochy is a club with massive appeal," he said. "It has been one of the most successful clubs in GV ranks in the last 25 years.
"We're fortunate to have an outstanding group of older players who are real mentors for the emerging ones.
"People like Dean Moon, a premiership captain, Ashley Watson who played at North (Melbourne), Morrison medallist Guy Campbell and Elliot Bowen who played a lot of footy with the Bendigo Bombers, are all in the 27- to 28-year-old range.
"They've been the ones leading the way ever since we started in November and they're setting a tremendous example."
Campbell, the league's reigning best-and-fairest, booted five goals in Friday's Round 1 win, with Bowen chipping in with two and Watson one.
A quality midfielder who played almost 350 games in the Goulburn Valley and Kyabram districts, White was a multi-award winner who also spent time coaching at Undera, Stanhope, Tongala and the Shepparton Swans.
At 183cm and 90kg, White was a strong-at-the-ball centreman and ruck rover for most of his career, winning a Kyabram and District league McNamara Medal as well as captain-coaching the league at representative level.
Coaching the major league flag at "Ky" remains the highlight of his career so far.
Merrigum's 1986 flag, the first of two in a row, was also special as the club hadn't won any silverware in almost 30 years.
In '86, Merrigum was beaten early in the finals by Avenel only to fight back and cause a boilover on grand final day.
"It was a massive turnaround for us that year," White said.
"We lost the qualifier and it's easy for your confidence to get knocked around after a loss like that.
"It meant we played four times in four weeks. I just tried to reinforce the positives and how well we'd played throughout the year.
"I knew that our best could be good enough - it was all about self-belief and we ended up turning the tables on them (Avenel)."
Originally from Warragul, White shifted with his family to Kyabram as a youngster and played more than 100 games at both Ky and Merrigum.
Among the vital ingredients as Rochester builds towards this September were the club's support staff, White said, particularly the club's reserves coach Todd Woodfine, who has been in charge of fitness work all summer.
- Ken Piesse's latest book, Football Legends of the Bush, is on sale at cricketbooks.com.au.