By Michael Sholly – VAFA Chief Executive Officer
The VAFA has a lot to thank our forefathers for; a 10 team competition, 18 rounds with each team playing each other twice home and away, a final four and a double promotion and relegation has held us in good stead for over a century. Whilst jostling for a position in the four is a feature of any football season, the VAFA, the only metropolitan competition that has two up and two down, has just as much interest in the battle at the other end where clubs are staving off relegation.
Over the years these battles have become as legendary as the ascensions to premierships. Last Saturday we saw the power of the dreaded relegation spur some teams on and achieve great victories. At the end of a season some clubs lie down whilst others respond and fight to the bitter end.
Old Scotch are the longest serving continuous Premier Section club, earning promotion from the then named B section in 1980. If you’ve been in Premier for 35 years you are not going down without a fight and that is exactly how they have responded in the past fortnight. A big win against Beaumaris followed by a sterling victory against third-placed Old Carey last Saturday. What made both of these all the more meritorious was that they were played away from their home ground in Camberwell.
Now it’s Collegians turn to respond. They play at home the next two weeks, taking on Beaumaris and Old Carey. Win them and University Blacks might be the next in the firing line. It sure will be a great finish to the Premier season.
Therry Penola hadn’t been in Premier C for a decade and were sitting in ninth position. After some mixed performances over the last month, their backs were to the wall. They were hosting Old Haileybury who were fourth but they too needed a win to shore up a finals berth. At three quarter time Haileybury led by five points but Therry stormed home to kick five goals to nil and win the match. But alas, their rival in the relegation stakes, Old Camberwell, had the same intensity in them. Across town at Williamstown, Old Camberwell was trailing the CYs by 15 points at three quarter time. One can make an assumption that the dreaded ‘R’ word was used by the coach and the troops rallied kicking nine goals to win by three. You wouldn’t believe it but the Footy Operations team at the VAFA have done it again by fixturing Old Camberwell to take on Therry Penola this Saturday.
The other relegation result was in Division 2 with a great win by Bulleen Templestowe over third placed Old Geelong. OGs are still in the hunt for the double chance and would have counted on a victory however they were up against a determined team facing relegation. The Bullants were stoic in the last quarter and held on for a five-point victory. Their battle with Old Mentonians will go down to the wire. Bottom placed Yarra Valley had their first win of the season but unfortunately for them it won’t be enough to save their place in Division 1.
Thick and Thin
This round sees a number of our clubs highlighting men’s health with the home team wearing navy blue socks and the away team light blue. Several VAFA players, including Simon Hogan from Uni Blacks, and Scott Sherwen, captain of old Scotch, have undertaken this initiative. The players are delighted that so many of the clubs have supported the cause. I attended the Hawthorn AFC breakfast, which focused on this ongoing and complex issue, and they are at the forefront of amateur clubs. As a result of their promotion most of Division 3 will also be wearing the socks. All money raised will be donated to Beyond Blue and other mental health charities.