16 NOV 10 @ 04:17PM BY DANIEL PHAN
TOM Milardovic cannot contain his excitement about putting on the St Albans Saints strip again after spending almost six years away from the club.
The defender, who spurned an offer to remain with minor premiers Richmond Eagles in order to return his childhood club, already has his sights on a gruelling pre-season hit-out.
“I just can’t wait until pre-season,” Milardovic said.
The Saints are back in the Victorian Premier League fold after a five-year absence but, despite big expectations, Milardovic admitted their priority was retaining top-flight status beyond the 2011 season.
“We want to become a stable club,” Milardovic said. However, with a three-year plan in place, Milardovic is quietly confident the Saints will challenge for silverware in good time.
“We must be realistic, which means making sure we’re still in the Premier League for the following season before we can think too much about pushing for (the) finals,” he said.
“But everyone wants to win trophies and achieve at this club. I’m talking for all the boys, that’s what you play for – to win – and I think anything’s possible.”
Saints football operations manager Mark Ivkovic said the club was rapt to have secured its No. 1 off-season recruiting aim.
“The day we sealed the State League 1 championship we quickly began working on what areas we needed to improve on if we are going to be successful in the VPL,” he said.
“Milards (Milardovic) was our number one priority and we worked very hard to get him down here, so to finally secure his signature is very rewarding and exciting for the club.”
The 28-year-old is adamant his was the right choice in swapping the more-established set-up at Richmond for the familiar surrounds of Churchill Reserve.
“Richmond were disappointed and shocked initially but they understood after I explained the reasons,” Milardovic said. “I had a really good relationship with the coach and everything, but that’s football for you.
“It’s (St Albans) just home, and I really want to achieve at this club.”