Division 4 holds more intrigue going into season 2013 than almost any other section. There are two new teams – Dragons and Northern Blues – we have only one relegated club – Hawthorn – who played some good football in 2012 and the two beaten finalists of last year had the form that would have seen them win promotion in many other years but for the brilliance of the top two.
Throw in the mix the expected improvement from Manningham Cobras and a debut win for the Synners under the club name of Chadstone and it is sure to be an interesting mix.
The round 1 highlights are as follows:
- Dragons make their historic debut in the competition away to the relegated Hawthorn
- Northern Blues make their competition senior debut at home to North Brunswick
- Chadstone have the road trip to Point Cook to open their season
- Eley Park Sharks start the year at home to West Brunswick
- Mt Lilydale have the chance to start their season in style when they host Box Hill North
- Manningham Cobras will have to wait until Round 2 to commence their season.
All sides will receive two byes throughout the 18 rounds courtesy of the 11 team section. Where these byes fall may also play a part in shaping a team’s season.
As we did with the other senior sections we have looked at the first six weeks for each club and given their season start a rating. An A+ is considered a dream start with home games and away fixtures that shouldn’t hold any fears. A D might be because you find yourself away from home early and have visits from higher ranked opposition than the previous year.
Either way it’s just an opinion and the real stuff isn’t until April so hopefully your recruiting and pre-season will have your primed for the first bounce of Round 1 on Saturday 13th April 2013.
BOX HILL NORTH: Start away to Mt Lilydale before a tough home match against Point Cook. A trip to North Brunswick and a visit from the new Dragons are to follow, before another away trip to Hawthorn. Bye comes at a good time in Round 6 but still not an easy beginning. C
CHADSTONE: Play the two finalists from last year, Point Cook away in round 1 and Eley Park at home in round 3. Also have Manningham Cobras at home, and another win opportunity against the Dragons at home in Round 6. Round 4 and 5 are away to Mt Lilydale and the other new side Northern Blues. C+
DRAGONS: Not the most accommodating welcome to the VAFA but as an unknown quantity could spring some surprises on the competition. Start their VAFA life at Hawthorn before two home games to fellow newbie Northern Blues then Mt Lilydale. A bye in round 5 separates away trips to Box Hill North and Chadstone. Hard to know how they will go but only two at home. B
ELEY PARK SHARKS: Is this to be the year of the Shark? The beaten Preliminary finalists will like what they see early. Home to start against West Brunswick, they rest in round 2 with the bye. Are back in round 3 with a trip to Chadstone, before home games against North Brunswick and Mt Lildale. At Manningham Cobras in round 6 but should have a postive record after the first half dozen. A+
HAWTHORN: Observers will be at Rathmines Road in round one to see the debut of the Dragons but also to see how Hawthorn regroup for their bid to bounce back to Division 3. Three home games with Manningham Cobras and Box Hill North also to visit should mean the Hawks start well. Away in rounds 2,4 and 6 to North Brunswick, Northern Blues and Mt Lilydale are not easy. First by in round 8. A
MANNINGHAM COBRAS: Have to wait a week to get their season going and they commence away to Chadstone in Round 2. This is followed by a tough trip to Hawthorn before a first home game against West Brunswick. Away to North Brunswick then back at home to Eley Park Sharks. Could be in a four after six. B
MT LILYDALE: Home in rounds 1, 4 and 6 to Box Hill North, Chadstone and Hawthorn and have away trips to West Brunswick, new team Dragons and the Eley Park Sharks. Certainly have winnable games and this team will be on the improve after last year. B+
NORTHERN BLUES: Expect them to do well as have been hardened in Premier B Thirds. Start life in Division 4 at home to North Brunswick before away trips to Dragons and Point Cook. At home for two weeks as Hawthorn and Chadstone visit. Then away to West Brunswick, with round 9 their first bye. B
NORTH BRUNSWICK: Three games at home and three away is a solid start to the season. Have a tough first up match away to Northern Blues before visits from Hawthorn and Box Hill North. Play Eley Park Sharks away in Round 4 followed by Manningham Cobras (home) and Point Cook (away). Opportunity there for a positive start. B
POINT COOK: Play two of the lower ranked sides in the opening weeks starting with Chadstone at home before travelling to Box Hill North. Northern Blues visit in round three and then have their first bye. Round 5 and 5 its matches against West (away) and North Brunswick (home). Could be a blistering start. A+
WEST BRUNSWICK: Away in round 1 to Eley Park Sharks before a first home game against Mt Lilydale. Have the third week off with a bye before returning against the Cobras away. Two home matches in a row against Point Cook and Northern Blues conclude the first half dozen. Play two finalists from last year but have winnable home games. B
So good luck for next year – Merry Christmas to all and if you want to debate your clubs assessment then tweet to @LennyVAFA and include the hashtag #vafadiv4 and #vafafixture.