I know what you’re thinking… It can’t be. The VAFA? Back? Surely not. Well, it’s time to wipe the dust from your eyes and the mud from your boots, because VAFA 2022 is back in a big way, and in a year ending without an ending in 2021, there are plenty of stories to be rewritten.
With some great results in 2021 you would think it’s a road to redemption and glory for some of our high finishers, but that may not be the case – with half a year to rebuild and regather the 2022 season couldn’t come with more promise and excitement… Let me show you why.
Old Camberwell Grammarians
The Coupe De Gras of the competition in my books – it’s a huge call but not a bold one. With the reigning LS Pepper medal winner leading the boys around in 2022, the Grammarians engine room will only be running hotter with the likes of Jimmy Allen in the mids and the duo of Verbi / Hart with more snags than Bunnings on a Sunday, it’s going to be a tough ask to break down this system that clearly worked in 2021, only suffering a loss to Kew in the mid-season of 2021. If you were asking for favourites for the season, this would be it… but only just
With more men inside the top 10 of the B&F than I’ve had hot dinners, it was no surprise to see this juggernaut second on the table in 2021. What Whitefriars do incredibly well and consistently is score big. With the most points for in 2021 the run and carry of the team means they have goal kickers spread across the ground, and although they saw 24 majors kicked by forward Daniel Wood, they can just about get a score any way they want, and we can expect more of it in 2022. A lot like Camberwell, they’re class in this competition, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them hoist the trophy at the end of the year.
Now, this team gives me a tingle. At their best, they are absolutely dominant and can run the absolute legs off their competition, but the issue here is the consistency to do so. The only team to get the better of Whitefriars last year proved their best is good enough, but the range of performance with a loss to Oakleigh in round 5 just shows that consistency is the key to their success in 2022. At their best I’m not afraid to call the team elite, but what they need this year is that final piece of consistency, and with that in their four walls they can absolutely contend. It’s interesting, because they could either take all the chocolates or slide down to the mid back, so watch this team with interest.
This team can start very hot this year, mark my words. 2nd in the B&F for Matthew Clifford means the fire is in the belly, and with a round one match up of the rising Glen Eira from Division 2, we’ll get an idea of the legitimacy of Prahran off the gun. A 7-4 record for 2021 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it also doesn’t scream a team that probably had it all together through the year. It should be uninterrupted this year, and the key to the success of Prahran will be scoring, they were a team who didn’t put up huge numbers offensively last year and to move up that ladder and compete, they’re going to need a scoring option, so let’s hope they’ve recruited well for this year.
St Mary’s Salesian
So okay, this team interests me a lot. With a 5-6 record for 2021 they are right in that midpack and as a footy fan, the midpack should excite you. Now St Mary’s had nobody in the top 10 for the B&F in 2021 and they also didn’t have a stand out goal kicker, so to win 5-6 without any obvious stars or carrying members of the team should show this is a group that works well together with what they have. If, and only if in this off season they’ve managed to develop or recruit a star, and that can be anywhere on the ground, I could see the team rising up and contending alongside Prahran Assumption, but keep an eye out early to see if the wins chalk up because without a hot start they could slide.
In 2021 Therry Penola was another mid range team, also finishing with a record of 5-6 it shows this is a team that can beat you if you aren’t careful. Teams like this are such a good measuring stick for the teams around them, and being that way can make you dangerous to play. Led by Matty Lyons who claimed =9th in the B&F last year lockdown defence could help their case to rise up the ladder, being a team who let through quite a few major scores last year, they improve this and they improve their position.
If you change some letters around in PEGS FC it actually also spells DANGEROUS, and that is what they are in 2022. The most telling stat I can give you to indicate this is they scored more last year than our fourth place Prahran Assumption, and finished with a higher percentage… just didn’t have the wins. If this team can figure out a way to win and win consistently, I honestly see them being the biggest movers heading into 2022
Old Peninsula are certainly ones to watch, but possibly not for the best reasons. This is a team who went 3-8 last year, and possibly one of the big reasons for that was a lack of offensive weapons. They put up the second lowest amount of points across the year, and in 2022 they may be a team that could be under threat of remaining toward the tail end of the ladder. They certainly have potential to climb if they have resolved their forward issue, however, it could be a long season ahead for the boys from Peninsula without having fixed that Issue. They do come up against PEGS in round 1, and that is a winnable game at their best, but it will be interesting to see what’s happened during the off-season for this 2022 year.
Oakleigh is the home of the reigning leading goal kicker for Division 1, with Aaron Cloke booting home 35 majors to be that leading goal scorer. If you look at this statistically, Oakleigh needs big body defenders, as simple as that. They’re a team that can hit the scoreboard and make you hurt, but they also allowed the most points in the league last year. Much as the same as some of the lower-end teams of this competition, if they’ve found a way to bolster their defensive stocks and get some carry out of the defensive 50 we could see something different. I think this is a team that remains near the bottom of Division 1, but I have certainly been wrong before
The up and comers. Glen Eira rises from the ranks of Division 2 in replacement of Brunswick to contend amongst these other Division 1 powerhouses. Glen Eira did not drop a game in Division 2 last year, and with 32 majors coming off the boot of Callum Dreth you can expect to see some big scores from this team across the year. Being baptized in the fire a little bit with the danger side of PEGS to begin their 2022 campaign, they couldn’t get a better barometer to see just where they stack up coming up a rank. It’s also worth noting, this club has depth. Glen Eira put 3 men inside the top 6 for the Division 2 B&F, so expect class across the ground for the Magpies in Division 1, could they make a run? I can’t wait to find out.