Michael Sholly

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A glorious start to the 2015 season as all 240 teams enjoyed magnificent autumn weather in Melbourne. In my opinion April is second only to September as the best month to play football.

As I went around to watch games on Saturday and in the feedback I have received since, overwhelmingly, the positive talk was that our grounds were in magnificent condition. I first went to Turner Reserve in Noble Park where Masala played and won their first senior match in Division 4. The Greater Dandenong Council has provided this club with the sole rights of this oval with new goal posts and a lush playing surface. From there I went to De La Salle’s Waverley Park and the oval there was in as good a condition as I have seen.

Reports from Toorak Park stated that the MCG couldn’t have provided a better surface. We have received similar reports from other council grounds including Hampton Rovers, Point Cook and Beaumaris. Of course this is not limited to councils with the VAFA playing matches on some of the finest school facilities including Trinity, Whitefriars and Marcellin.

We are currently experiencing some short term pain at a number of ovals as they undergo renovations. These include Parkdale Vultures, Old Brighton, Oakleigh and St Bernard’s. I am sure the wait will be worthwhile when we return to these ovals. Add to these the new facilities last year at Melbourne University and St Kevin’s and we do have some of the finest grounds in Melbourne. Building strong relationship with our councils, schools and universities are one of the key responsibilities of a club’s committee.

As mentioned previously I visited Masala’s first game in Division 4 and it was with great excitement that they won their first match. Their secretary highlighted the major differences to a Club XVIII match and even the fact that the reserves players could clap the seniors onto the ground. There are so many things that are taken for granted. Parkside, the other newcomer returning after 12 seasons in the Northern FL, put up a sterling performance before going down to last year’s preliminary finalists, Canterbury, by a solitary point. We look forward to following their journey this season.

What’s the biggest gap in the sections? Maybe this year the jump from Division 1 to Premier C. Promoted teams, Therry and Williamstown had big losses that totalled a combined 177 points. Added to this the two relegated Premier B teams, Old Ivanhoe and Old Haileybury who both spent long periods in Premier recently, registered strong wins. The rise and fall of teams seem to gather in Premier C in what many expert amateur observers regard as the most competitive section in the VAFA.

Andrew Leonard’s own version of Footy Classified titled VAFA Tragics commenced on VAFATV. The weekly program looks back at the key matches from the previous week and highlights some of the controversial aspects of the competition. The three other Tragics are former VAFA communications manager Michaels Fitzgerald, former De La Salle President Marty Kelliher and Fairfax journalist Ewen McRae. I am looking forward to their weekly take on events.

We are delighted to announce William Buck as the naming rights sponsor of our Premier Section. This is the first occasion that the Board has allowed naming rights for a senior section. They are the new ball sponsor for the section and will also sponsor the VAFA Grand Final lunch held at the Hyatt on Friday September 19. William Buck is a leading firm of Chartered Accountants and advisors with offices across Australia and New Zealand. They have a close association with a number of VAFA clubs and want to broaden their relationship to the competition as a whole.