Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
2018 played host to numerous highlights throughout the VAFA and we’ve endeavoured to find 30 of the most memorable. Stay tuned over the next three days as we bring you North Brunswick’s drought-breaking flag, the Sheagles’ triple win and Zimmer’s goal among much more.
30. Rise of Greis
Although four senior games in a VAFA season may seem like a small sample size for this list, it was the influence Caitlin Greiser made in her short stint that earnt her selection at 30. The Greis, who is a former soccer player and only decided to give football a run this year, exploded onto the scene at Melbourne University WFC in Round 7 with five goals and an Anytime Fitness Rising Star nomination against Caulfield Grammarians. Skilful, poised and with the ability to roost the ball more than 50 metres, the Greis earnt selection in the successful Big V side against the Adelaide Footy League before spending the rest of the year playing VFL Women’s. It may have been five games in total (including Big V), but geez were they exciting!?
29. Travis French bags 14…twice
After not playing a game of football in 2017, former Rosebud FNC junior returned to the field for South Mornington in Division 4 this year. And boy did he return with a bang! The key forward kicked 83 goals from his 15 matches to lead all comers in his section, but it was the two bags of 14 that made him stand out above all others. After kicking 21 goals in his first six matches, French exploded for 14 against Masala in Round 8 before inflicting the same damage against Mt Lilydale in Round 14. And did we mention he snagged 10 goals twice as well? Also, against the Tigers and Rams.
28. Big V greats recognised
The VAFA hosted its 12th annual Big V Club Luncheon in August, which was highlighted by the induction of two Big V Champions, Brian Bourke (De La Salle) and Wayne Carey (St Bernard’s), while David Hughes (Old Scotch) was elevated to legend status after first being inducted in 2011. Further to this, another Big V Champion and former VAFA President, Bruno Conti, was voted in as a Life Member of the Association at December’s Annual General Meeting. Four Big V stars receiving deserved recognition!
27. Hawks did it for Dan
Hawthorn AFC experienced a tragedy in June after the loss of club and VAFA champion, Dan Lauletta. A premiership star and 2005 OJ Meehan Medallist, Dan was remembered with a touching tribute between the seniors and reserves Round 10 clash against Canterbury at Rathmines Reserve. Dan still had former teammates representing the Hawks in the two’s as they claimed the Division 3 reserve flag in one of the most heartfelt and touching victories in the history of the club.
26. Billy and Brandon claim triple crown
What do you get when you combine a senior flag, a leading goal kicker award and a Jock Nelson Medal? Billy Kanakis (St Kevin’s OB). Now substitute the Jock Nelson for the Jack Fullerton Division 2 B&F Award and you’ve got just as an impressive season from UHS-VU young gun, Brandon Jackson. Both gentlemen were unstoppable in 2018 and played a leading hand in their side’s individual success by claiming their own triple crowns.
25. Fitzroy, Ormond and North Brunswick claim senior, reserve double
One flag is a sensational outcome for any club, but two is one super successful year. Fitzroy (Premier C), Ormond (Division 1) and North Brunswick (Division 4) each claimed the senior and reserve double in 2018, making premiership celebrations twice as good! And don’t think you’ve seen the last of any of these clubs as they appear later in this count.
24. Michael Griechen super mark
Not quite the mark of the year, but damn close to it. Michael Griechen took flight in De La Salle’s Round 16 clash against Old Xaverians and gave the SPT Plays of the Year judges some serious food for thought.
23. Westie Women come from the clouds
Trailing by 22 points and without a point to their name at three quarter time of their Premier B (Blue) Reserve Grand Final, West Brunswick were well and truly gone against Old Geelong. However, after an inspired Josh Melican speech and four unanswered goals from Gemma Gray (2), Georgia Miller and Jessica Schumann in the final term, the Westies turned what looked like a genuine rout into one of the all-time grand final comebacks.
22. Matt Oakley cleans up umpiring accolades
While certain players dish out sensational individual seasons, so too do our VAFA Umpires with none more impressive than Matt Oakley in 2018. Not only did he umpire his debut senior representative match against the Adelaide Footy League in June, Oaks officiated his fourth consecutive William Buck Premier Grand Final and won the VAFA Umpire of the Year for the second time. About as good as it gets!
21. Cordy’s Ayce run home
At the 7-round mark of this year’s Woodrow Medal count, there’s a fair chance Ayce Cordy was relaxing into a few extra sodas after going vote-less to that point in the night. However, the Uni Blues big man finally caught the umpire’s eye in Round 8 with a BOG performance against SBMT before blitzing the competition with maximum votes against Old Brighton (Rd 10), De La Salle (Rd 11), St Kevin’s Old Boys (Rd 13), Collegians (Rd 14), SBMT (Rd 16) & Old Scotch (Rd 18), finishing the year with 23. Now if he keeps up this current run of form, he’s looking good for 40 odd in 2019.