Myrtleford has trumped several rival clubs and landed the prized signature of Simon Curtis.
In a massive recruiting coup Curtis signed a one-year deal at McNamara Reserve on Thursday night.
Curtis will have no official role at the club other than being a player.
The Panthers' premiership star said he departs Lavington Sports Ground with a heavy heart after he replaced James Saker at the helm at the start of 2018.
"I can't thank the Panther family enough, coming in as a rookie coach the club provided me with support, encouragement and trust," Curtis said.
"I've loved my time at the club and it's fair to say we experienced the full roller coaster of emotions.
"From a mid-table finish, to the ultimate success of a premiership and then the two COVID years which were tough on everyone involved with the club.
"I will always cherish the 2019 season which was a career highlight for me.
"I'll certainly miss the club but plan to remain part of the Panther community and anticipate the reunions and some friendly banter on the field."
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Curtis said the fact his parents lived in Myrtleford had a huge bearing on his decision to join the Saints.
"I'm looking forward to the next chapter and relocating to Myrtleford to be closer to family and becoming involved in not only the club but the community," he said.
Saints president Ian Wales said the stunning coup of signing Curtis was a just reward for all the hard work by club volunteers.
"As president of the football and netball club it is extremely satisfying to sign someone the calibre of Simon," Wales said.
"It just reinforces that as a club we are doing a lot right both on and off the field and it is appealing for players to be a part of.
"Simon won't only be an asset to the club but to the community as a whole as well.
"Simon's parents have lived on a property on the outskirts of Myrtleford for 15 years.
"So Simon's decision was based on a lifestyle choice as well as football.
"He has got a young family that he wants to raise in the country."
The bombshell announcement is a massive boost to the Saints closing the gap on league powerhouses Albury and Wangaratta.
Wales said Curtis boasts a glittering CV that speaks for itself.
"It's no secret that Simon is among the top handful of stars in the competition when he is fit and firing," he said.
"He is a dual best and fairest winner including when the Panthers won the flag.
"It will be interesting to see how good a player Simon can be without the burden of coaching."
The shock move rekindles memories of some of the competition's biggest names switching to a rival club.
Recent examples include Jarrod Hodgkin (Wodonga to Wodonga Raiders), Shaun Mannagh (North Albury to Lavington), Travis Hodgson and Brent Piltz (North Albury to Myrtleford), Simon McCormick (North Albury to Wodonga) and Tyler Bonat (Corowa-Rutherglen to Yarrawonga).
Myrtleford coach Jake Sharp revealed that he had a lot of mutual respect for Curtis despite previously being a rival coach.
"We've kept in pretty close contact over the last few years," Sharp said.
"Just for me as a young coach, trying to get experience from other coaches, Simon's been great.
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