With the sports lover’s nightmare of 2020 behind us, it’s time to revel in the fact that footy is back! From the MCG to your local foody club and everywhere in between, the fans are flocking back to the footy.
So, with that in mind let’s take a look at how each of the VAFA Division 2 Men’s teams are shaping up as the new season looms.
2019 Division 3 Premiers – The Bloods – move into Division 2 after a thrilling Grand Final win over the Cobras. They move into the division for the first time since 2011. The Bloods will be hoping to maintain their Division 2 status after a hugely successful few years, with an eye on moving up divisions yet again.
After a solid, if unspectacular 2019 campaign, the Bullants look ahead at the 2021 season looking to push up the ladder and improve on their mid table status. A return to the glory days of the early parts of the last decade beckons, and with the anomaly of having essentially an 18-month pre-season, coach Jason Reynolds and his side will be licking their lips at the prospect of delivering just that in 2021.
Coming off a third-place finish in 2019 home and away season, Jon Edgar’s Glen Eira are one of the strongest sides in the division this season. Solid pre-season wins against Division 1 opposition have solidified their position as one of the big danger sides heading into the new season and Jesse Maxfield will no doubt be a catalyst to their success. Promotions from their U19 side from last season and the ability to maintain the majority of their 2019 senior playing list might signal a perfect storm brewing for a premiership assault for the mighty Gryphons.
The Magpies head into the 2021 season after a tough 2019 whereby they won five of their 16 games. They were still three games clear of relegation and managed to their Division 2 status comfortably. They have attracted a raft of new talent, including a couple of Murray FL players, and can look forward to a clean slate in 2021 amidst higher expectations from their fanbase.
After a spectacular Division 3 campaign which saw them drop only one game in the regular season ended with a heartbreaking two-point defeat in the grand final, the Cobras will be keen to impose themselves this campaign. Michael Muller (c) leads a new leadership group consisting of Adam Baltruweit (vc), Mitch Keltie and Thomas Flood. Manningham will be one of the teams to watch this year.
After an excruciating preliminary final loss last season still fresh in the memory of fans and players alike, the Unicorns head into 2021 with redemption in the form of a premiership their target. A solid preseason holds them in good stead to achieve this. With coach Bernie Pretty calling the shots from the sidelines, could this be Melbourne High School Old Boys year?
Dropping down from Division 1 this season, the Old Paradians have overseen quite a bit of change since 2019. The most obvious of course is the new blue playing strip which sees them pay homage to their original 1929 guernsey. A new captain in Marcus Nolan replaces the club’s longest serving captain in Chris Kandilakis. Marcus, a club icon in his own right, has strong family lineage at the club with his Uncle Frank one of the legendary Paradians from yesteryear. With some solid promotions from the U19s squad mixing with the talent already on hand – look for a strong showing this season from the Parade.
Recruitment aplenty for the boys down at “The House” as they look to right the wrongs of a disappointing 2019 season. Tyren Montebruno and Matt Smith are two key inclusions from Werribee Centrals and North Footscray, respectively, while Fiachra O’Deasmhunaigh returns. Senior coach Anthony McMahon will be bullish in the clubs attempts at moving up the Division 2 ladder this season.
The drop to Division 2 for the Magpies might be a one season thing if the view from “the bird’s nest” can be reckoned with. The community that supports WBAFC is second to none – with their fundraising efforts the envy of sporting clubs throughout the state – and if the football department can match the fans and members efforts in that regard look for the Magpies to dominate the 2021 season. An influx of St Bernard’s players has added serious depth to the Westies list.
YARRA OLD GRAMMARIANS
The Bushrangers finished the 2019 season in the midtable logjam on 40 points. Former AFL umpire Michael Vozzo is in the hotseat for the 2021 campaign, and I’m sure he’ll have the utmost confidence in the talent that has come into the club led by Nick Agius.
So that’s that. Every side in the VAFA Division 2 Men’s competition previewed for the new season. After the COVID-19 pandemic ruined things for all football fans in 2020, let’s all revel in its return for the 2021 season!