The Friars have been promoted to Division 1 following success in 2019, winning every game of the season to claim the Division 2 premiership against their rivals Brunswick. Senior coach Kristian Height will again be in charge with the leadership team consisting of Ben Galtieri, Michael Nitas, Adam Pearson, James Connellan, Christian Feher and Calvin Spencer as they embark on the journey for back-to-back premierships, albeit 18 months later.
Brunswick has also been promoted to the Division 1 ranks due to a strong showing in 2019, despite losing the Grand Final to Whitefriars by 25 points. Former Richmond AFLW coach Tom Hunter will take the reins this season as he aims for success with the NOBS. Angus Coverdale, Luka Vlassopoulos, Will McKenzie and Thaj Haddock are arguably most ready to hit the ground running for 2021 after getting a taste for football in the Northern Territory over the summer period.
A disappointing season in 2019 where the Wellers finished ninth on the ladder with just five wins sees them relegated from Premier C to Division 1 for 2021. They did, however, beat Marcellin twice in 2019 and won two of their last three games. Known for their proud and inclusive culture, the senior side will be out with a point to prove this season as they try to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
Therry Penola OB
Therry Penola will enter 2021 looking to improve on its 2019 performance, having missed the opportunity to play finals by 15% percentage on the ladder but still having claimed 11 wins. Damien Peverill will once again lead the Lions from the front, re-signing as senior coach. With the season just around the corner, they will be looking to unleash a host of new faces into the senior side to help its cause for further success.
Like the Lions, Oakleigh were also extremely unfortunate to miss out on the chance to play finals in 2019, missing out by less than 4% to Old Peninsula. With a renewed focus to do well after a season of no football, senior coach Ash Lever will be trying to extract the very best in his troops to ensure they can move forward in 2021.
PEGS will have a breath of fresh air this season as they welcome David Calthorpe onboard as its senior coach following the departure of premiership coach, Dane Pound. A former 114-game AFL player for Essendon, Brisbane and North Melbourne, Calthorpe has an abundance of previous coaching experience and will be aiming to lead his new club back up the ladder following a tough 2019 season where they won just two games on its way to the wooden spoon in Premier C.
After sneaking their way into finals on percentage, Old Peninsula were just seconds away from a grand final berth if not for an after-the-siren goals from UHS-VU in extra-time. They’ll certainly be buoyed by six inclusions from the notoriously strong MPFNL. An early highlight of the season will come in Round 1, as club veteran Shaun Payze plays his 400th VAFA game.
The Bears enjoyed a great season in 2019, winning 12 games on its way to third on the ladder, but were unfortunately knocked out in the first week of finals by Peninsula. The club was buoyed by the recent re-commitment of Nick Thornely, brothers Max and Ned Waters and co-captain Jack Delbridge. With the 2019 semi-final knock out still on its minds, a clear goal this season will be finding ways to go one or two steps further as they look to maintain their reputation as a Division 1 threat.
Despite a poor season in 2019 where they finished eighth on the ladder with just five wins, the Blues have managed to retain its place in Division 1 for this season and strengthen their list. The club will welcome new recruits Kai Bloomfield, Aaron Jory, Jackson Boland, Zac Podmore, Jack Beard, Bonnar Mahains and Rory Brodie onboard for 2021. Just as importantly, they’ll be led by Matt Boland and his two mates, Matt Clifford and Adam Collett. They will look towards club regulars like Beau Adams, James Musster, Jay Thompson, James Gottschalk and Ryan Costin to help recapture its premiership winning form seen during the early to mid-2010s.
St Mary’s Salesian
2019 saw St Mary’s score eight victories but fail to make the finals. However, under the leadership of co-captains Manny Dolan and Louis Holmes, the club will be searching for ways to improve as they have another crack at playing finals. A bevy of fresh recruits have come across; including, Brett Gatehouse.