2018 VAFA Top 30 Best Bits: 20-11

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Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead

20. Plugger’s lionhearted performance

There’s always apprehension when announcing one individual’s performance over another throughout an entire VAFA season, but few would argue Anthony ‘Plugger’ Lynch gave one of the bravest grand final performances on record when St Kevin’s OB defeated Collegians in this year’s William Buck Premier decider. A man who has played more than 250 games and is renowned for his leadership both on and off the field took his game to another level when he battled a severe case of pneumonia during his side’s thrilling five-point win. Such was the extent of his illness, Plugger was unable to celebrate with teammates due to being hospitalised for days after the game. We’re fortunate to have several champions come through the VAFA, and Plugger is right next to the best of them.

19. Cheshire’s Goal

Down against the minor premiers in the second semi-final and with the support/pressure of an entire community behind them, it was Tom Cheshire who stood up for Fitzroy and gave them the momentum in the 24th minute of the final term with this deadest stunner sending them back into Premier B….how’s the crowd?

18. Sheagles’ individual prowess

The inaugural William Buck Premier women’s champions may have fallen agonisingly short of back-to-back premierships when they lost to the Mugars, but from an individual perspective the Sheagles absolutely cleaned up in 2018. From Taylor Padfield’s competition B&F to Laura Robertson’s Anytime Fitness Rising Star and Shaylee Taylor’s leading goal kicker award, it was a more than successful year for the Marcellin women. And did we mention Padfield (Best VAFA player) and Natalie MacDonald (Spirit of the Big V) cutting shapes in the Big V’s win over Adelaide? Yeah, you’d be happy with that.

17. Warrior Women, Hearts take the long route

If you didn’t have to do it, you wouldn’t but taking the long route did not stop Old Haileybury (Premier B White) and Westbourne Grammarians (Division 3) from taking out their respective flags in 2018. With both sides finishing fourth on the ladder they were made to win three games in the post-regular season with the Hearts downing Scotch Stars and the Warriors overpowering Preston Bullants in their grand finals. Further to this, the Hearts didn’t solidify their finals spot until Round 14, while the Warrior women won just two of their first eight games!

16. Hunt soars

If the wind at Brighton Beach Oval isn’t enough to put you off your game, the enthusiastic Tonners fans were doing their utmost to help during their side’s Round 9 clash against Collegians. Lions midfielder Taylor Hunt, however, decided to instead fly for the 2018 Mark of the Year and cap it off with a wry smile to those on the other side of the fence.

15. Saints, Hawks back-to-back

There’s been just two years of Wilson women’s football in the VAFA and now just two back-to-back premiers. St Mary’s Salesian took out the Premier B Blue flag with a comprehensive win over the highly-fancied West Brunswick after first defeating the Westies in 2017, while Hawthorn AFC proved too strong for Division 1 minor premiers, Ivanhoe AFC, one year after claiming the Development Division 4 flag. Two from two – you’d be happy with those figures.

14. Brown the MVP of MVP’s

The Premier Coaches MVP was introduced in 2014 and boasts winners the ilk of Harry Tinney (Old Trinity), Ross Yong (Uni Blues), Tom Penberthy (Collegians) and Jason Tutt (De La Salle). Mitch Brown, however, outdid them all with 80 votes en route to a sensational albeit unsurprising victory. The previous record was 72 polled by Tinney in 2014, but Brown’s dominant performance included 12 5-vote matches and two of those the perfect 10.

13. Max Kennedy Goal

It was a fourth quarter comeback for the ages from Hampton Rovers in the Division 1 Grand Final until 18-year-old Ormond young gun, Max Kennedy, tipped the momentum back in the Monders’ favour with his fifth goal for the day – a deadset screamer!

12. EP completes redevelopment

The home of Amateur football underwent an incredible redevelopment with a new oval-shaped surface, new clubrooms, social room and administration building. While Old Melburnians hosted Old Scotch in the first official game (Australia Cup) earlier in the season, the cherry was the return of the William Buck Premier Grand Final – the VAFA’s showcase event – after years at alternative venues!

11. Zimmer’s boo-na-na

Few players excite like Old Brighton forward, Anthony Zimmerman. ‘Zimmer’ had a standout 2018 campaign with the Grill’d Rising Star Award, a Big V U19’s victory and this absolute boo-na-na complete with Brighton’s exceptional social media work!