DIVISION 3 – AMATEUR FOOTBALLER

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Round 5 – Tiers of talent, tears of lamentation. 
Division 3 has developed an unfortunate reputation and it appears it will continue to persist throughout 2013. Six teams are currently 3-1 with only percentage separating Kew (1st) and Aquinas (6th). What we have here is a tricky situation. However, judging on the early success of Ivanhoe and Yarra Valley in Division 2, last season’s Division 3 grand finalists, breaking out of VAFA’s most frustrating division is well worth the effort. 
Although we have a complete pile-up at the top of the ladder, it appears that a second and third tier of the division has developed. St Francis Xavier, smashed by Richmond Central a couple of weeks ago, responded with a flawless display against Albert Park to top the second tier. Following them the prospects are rather cloudy. La Trobe is a prospect to be entertained but it appears they lack the polished edge that the top six have exhibited in the opening four rounds. Below them are Power House, Albert Park, South Mornington and the troubled Old Westbourne. I am struggling to build a case for success beyond surviving relegation for any of the above-mentioned sides.
On a lighter note, Mothers’ Day falls on the weekend! The influence of women on an all-male league is immeasurable. To think how many of us would forget our mouthguard, boots and underwear if not for the women in our lives. Every VAFA football club owes so much to the selfless women who volunteer their time and energy to help out our clubs. Personally, I would like to thank my own mother for putting up with my beer in the shower routine after games and just generally being a legend.
UHS-VU had something to prove after a nail biting loss to archrivals Kew and dominated proceedings against fellow challenger Elsternwick who made a late charge only to fall 20 points short. UHS-VU is shaping as one of the flag favourites in light of a particularly impressive opening month with Daniel Musil leading from the front with 3 near-BOG performances. I feel mentioning Nick Rowland once more might end with a restraining order but he and young gun Nicholas Devereux are part of a tight-knit UHS-VU midfield group.    
It was an amazing day out at La Trobe University where only 1 point separated the seniors following a dramatic draw in the reserves. Newly appointed SEN commentator Benny Jones was outstanding for Richmond with three goals as was Jack McMeel who kicked 6 for the home side, however it was the two respective engine rooms that fought hammer and tong for even the smallest ascendancy. As it was, the smallest ascendancy was all that Richmond required to win in a cliff hanger. 
Power House who through administrative intervention avoided relegation last season played host for the first time in 2013. The visiting side was Division 4 premiers South Mornington, is now under threat of becoming the side that will immediately fall back to Division 4 as they sunk to a 51 point loss at Ross Gregory Oval. Once again South Mornington started strongly only to collapse in a heap in the second half. The tenacity of Ricky Webb combined with 5 from Jaydn Gatti enabled the ‘House to grab a win, their first of 2013. 
I listed St Francis Xavier and Albert Park as the two teams from my hypothetical tier two of Division 3. Well, St Francis Xavier may have smashed two theories in one afternoon of scintillating football. The first theory that St Francis Xavier will not figure in September this season, may have to be readjusted as Dwayne Scott slammed six goals and Christopher Van Dam continued his notable early season form. The second theory that Albert Park is part of tier two is also up for debate as they could only manage 2 goals up until ¾ time. I fear their lack of scoring power may condemn them to a long, arduous winter. 
The biggest surprise of the week came from Victoria Park as Kew continued their supreme home record against Aquinas with an 80 point smashing. After last season’s dramatic elimination final between the two, it was always going to be a fascinating contest. Aquinas, clearly underdone with a few of the lads enjoying the sounds of The Bronx, Tame Impala and Flume down at Groovin’ the Moo in Bendigo, was convincingly smashed by a hungry Bears outfit. Nicholas Morrison-Stacey was clearly Aquinas’ best but it was ‘BWS’ (Tim Allman, Kew) who was the dominant player on the ground, kicking 7 goals. 
Swinburne University joined the other 5 sides on 3-1 with a commanding 89 point win over Old Westbourne. Ben Higgins kicked 6 goals after halftime to combine with early market mover for the league B&F Ryan Keeley, who personified the strength of their midfield, far too efficient for the flailing Old Westbourne outfit. There are huge concerns for Old Westbourne who need to beat Albert Park next week if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation in 2013.    
Round 5:
Willie Bee’s Clive Waterhouse MOTR.
Richmond Central is coming off a thrilling win and will ride the wave of momentum to knock off the shell-shocked Aquinas who have been wounded by injuries and departures. Richmond by 19 points.
In other games, UHS-VU to comfortably beat South Mornington, Albert Park will bounce back from last week’s disappointment against cellar dweller Old Westbourne, Kew should handle the enthused Power House, Thornton will return to form as Elsternwick knock off St Francis Xavier and Swinburne will win the battle of the universities against La Trobe. 

Round 3 – Badlands
Football can be a pretty dull game occasionally. Particularly when the game is over by ¾ time and all you stay for is to distract yourself from your failing bee business or to proudly purchase the first beer at the bar once the final siren sounds. Last weekend gave us five shellacking’s on a pretty miserable Saturday afternoon. 
Fortunately for the sake of the Division 3 faithful, we had a clash that set tongues wagging across the league. In the upset of the round, recently promoted Swinburne University defeated the heavily favoured Kew at St James Park. Kew will be locking themselves in the meeting room this week whilst the Swinburne boys will be skipping university to enjoy a few froths, reminiscing about the result which may ignite their finals chances. 
In other results, Richmond Centrals slammed on 11 goals to 3 in the second half to announce their intentions. The win follows a first round loss to Elsternwick who looked to have recruited very strongly and are worth considering as a promotion chance. Again, this is only round 2 and I am reluctant to draw early conclusions but let’s face it, Aaron Thornton is an absolute jet and will be a major handful for every side. Sam Williams couldn’t quite manage déjà vu but six goals on a windy day is a fair day at the office. 
It is hard to take solace in a 66 point loss but I think Old Westbourne should. Not to come across as patronising by any means but Aquinas are a quality football team and Old Westbourne have struggled with training facilities and off season personnel losses. A concerted effort to finish games strongly is a must however the form of Karageorge and the Tessari boys must be very pleasing for Roger Hand who had to contend with a side who had a hungry Michael Connolly and super impressive small forward Jack Price who snagged four.
Edward Pearson was shaking, rattling and a-rolling at the Zoo* with five cheeky ones in a dominant second half performance by the Parkville lads. Power House have plenty height across the board but lacked the cohesion necessary to compete against a more seasoned football side. Their lack of depth was illustrated in their uncompetitive second half with Webb and Baker again amongst their best. The resumption of the UHS-VU-Kew rivalry this week is a chance to prove whether the zookeepers can tame the bears of the east. 
*Don’t feed the animals.
Talk about coming full circle. South Mornington started their Division 3 campaign with a wonderful win against Swinburne however they crashed back to earth with another ordinary last quarter, this time surrendering to Albert Park. Last week, they kicked 1.3 against Swinburne and followed up with a scoreless last term on Saturday, killing any chance of a 2-0 start. Some can blame the wind, I blame the Blizzard. Blizzard kicked 5 of the best and they celebrated with Muscat. Dylan Muscat that is, who sank 4 as Albert Park won in convincing fashion.
I am sure Gary Rosewarne and Dennis Grace are telling Aaron Thornton to keep a lid on his form so I won’t write about how good he is every week but if they are Aaron certainly isn’t listening. Another 6 for number 1 lifted the ‘Wick to their second impressive win in as many weeks. New recruits Jeremy Ratcliffe and Lewis Yeatman were excellent in HQ’s backyard however veteran Alan Patey showed an affinity for the hard ball in a BOG performance. Youngster Dom Moore was solid for La Trobe Uni in a flattening performance.
Welcome to Chinoversity. Today’s lesson revolves around geographical disadvantage. So you have to travel to Beaconsfield to play footy? Well, it’s not easy kids but if you wear a nice pair of maroon chinos and grow some ironic facial hair you will at least look good doing it. Question?  Shane Lowry? Well, it’s a difficult task to bring your A-game against a reasonable football side but sure, I’ll allow this. And full marks to Sam Brown for returning to the fold with such ease. Perhaps you kids will become graduates yet. Stay away from Mrs Robinson. If you didn’t get that, as referred to above Richmond Central beat St Francis Xavier. 
Now they we’ve passed most of the lessons with ease, here is the surprising part. A windy day in Hawthorn brought about the biggest upset of the year so far in a fiery battle of the Elgin. After Kew comfortably beat Swinburne in their practice match bout 3 weeks ago, I thought it was safe to predict another Kew win. Swinburne, led by big man Richard Gates and notable recruit Ryan Keeley, led by as much as 48 points until the inevitable Kew comeback fell short. Swinburne had winners across the ground despite the resilience of Jeremy Fultheim and Paul ‘Caesar Salad’ Brough. 
Round 3: Willie Bee’s Clive Waterhouse Match of the Round. This week UHS-VU takes on Kew at Vic Park in a tantalising contest. Talk of the Big White Snake returning to the fold only furthers the intrigue. Kew by a shake of the sauce bottle 
In the other games, Aquinas by 8 goals against SFX, Elsternwick by 10 majors against the struggling Old Westbourne lads and Richmond Central to wriggle through the Albert Park stranglehold. La Trobe take on South Mornington in what I think will result in a 20 point La Trobe win. Swinburne Uni will run away with points against Power House. 
Aquinas v St Francis Xavier
Elsternwick v Old Westbourne
Richmond Central v Albert Park
La Trobe University v South Mornington
Swinburne University v Power House
Kew v UHS-VU