JACK Melrose hasn’t slipped off the radar in the off-season — quite the opposite in fact.
His best-and-fairest winning form was one of the few bright spots in a forgettable season for Wodonga Raiders, which collected wooden spoons at senior and under-18 level and almost claimed an unfortunate trifecta by finishing eighth at reserves level.
The 24-year-old utility has remained at Raiders and is part of a new-look leadership team on and off the field as co-captain with Brad Hibberson.
He will lead the Raiders onto the field today at Birallee Park in the season-opener with a major difference — he is now Jack Di Mizio.
The name change has been almost a decade in the making — since the sudden death of his father, Mario Di Mizio, in 2005, aged in his mid-40s.
He had assumed his step-father’s surname, Melrose, before he started school.
“It is something I was keen to do and been pretty passionate about,” Jack said.
“It has meant a lot to me and been good to finally have it changed.
“Doing it so late in life has been a pain because it has meant I have had a lot to change.
“But I am not regretting it for a moment.”
The change has caught many off guard, including those at
Birallee Park who have been wondering who the new player might be.
“A lot of people are confused,” he said.
“Even people at the Raiders are wondering what is going on.”
Jack’s father played at Myrtleford, North Albury and Lavington.
arrived in Australia in 1961 from northern Italy.
Mario was born soon after the clan arrived and, after a short stint in Melbourne they travelled to Bonegilla before settling at Myrtleford.
They operated a cafe and pizza shop in Myrtle Street.
“There is some really strong Italian heritage in the family and I was really keen to take on the name,” Jack said.
Jack was 15 when his father died.
He joined Wodonga Raiders from Kiewa-Sandy Creek a couple of years later.
In a coincidence, the Raiders play one of his father’s former clubs today, Myrtleford.
“We obviously didn’t perform as well as we would have liked last year,” Jack said.
“We’ve picked up a lot of players and should push for finals, all going well.
“Compared with last year that would be nice.
“It is a really big honour to be made one of the leaders.
“People at the club have backed me for a leadership role.
“They obviously think I can do it.”