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9/10 September
It’s hard to believe there are just two weekends of football before it’s time to continue the planning for 2012.
There are 22 premierships yet to be decided and most of them are up for grabs this week.
In addition, we’ve got preliminary finals in Premier through Premier C and Division 3. and isn’t the weather looking spectacular!
In Premier, St Bede’s Mentone Tigers and Xavs. don’t write off the Tiges, but the Red and Blacks will be tough to toss.
In Premier B, the fight for promotion betwen St Bernard’s and St Kevin’s. How does one pick a winner here? The Snow Dogs are in super form, but Kevs may have their measure. Extra time, toss a coin.
In Premier C, AJAX battle Old Camberwell. The Wellers have come hard late in the piece after an awful beginning, but their run may end this week if the Jackers can find their best.
In Div 3, Yarra Valley meet the Gryphs. Great efforts from both these clubs this season and were it not for the might of the newly merged Prahsumption, they’d both be going up. This decides which one of them will.
So to the deciders, the big dances, the last waltzes.
Division One: Banyule at 19-1 against Parkdale 13-7. The Vultures inflicted on the Bears their only season loss. They’re both playing their last games en route to Premier C.  Tough one. Bears.
Division 2: Glen Eira and St John’s. The Eirans have been the best team all year, but the JOCs have earned the right to have a good last crack at them. As good as the season has been for the Doveton crowd – consecutive promotions – they’ll find this a tough one. Then again, they lost the GF in heartbreaking circumstance last year and they won’t have forgotten. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll chalice.
Division 4: St Francis Xavier has been the class of the comp all year and it will be a massive job for Richmond Central. The Staionmasters have won promotion for the first time, not a bad consolation prize. nonetheless, their players won’t feel that way. a big game, but SFX to prevail.
Prahran Assumption still has seven live chances in the Pick the Premier competition. They need wins from their five GF selections – and then Kevs and Xavs to salute next week. Good luck to the Four Blues.
While we’re at it, here were my R1 guesses. I’d be still alive too if it weren’t for De La.
Premier: De La Salle
Premier B: St Bernard’s
Premier C: Werribee Districts
Division 1: Banyule from Parkdale
Division 2: Glen Eira from St John’s and La Trobe
Division 3: Monash Gryphons
Division 4: Richmond Central  

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3/4 September
Wind! Spring sunshine and the inevitable northerly. Tiges and Lions: Who can move the football in the gale? almost a toss-up. Purples have more class and will win if they can kick double figures. IF!
Xavs and Blues: These games are usually close, hard-fought affairs. Every team hates the Elsternwick wind, it’s just that Xavs seem to have tamed it over they years. Still, history counts for little. close and low-scoring again, but only the brave would back the Varsity. Then again, who dares, wins. But perhaps not.
Caulfield v St Kevin’s: One of them returns to Premier section tomorrow night. Which? The pundits seem split down the middle on this. Sandy has showered the Fieldsmen with mixed blessings over the past couple of years. I’m stickin with them.
Old Brighton v St Bernard’s: Very, very tough to pick. Snow Dogs have the form and some say they’ll win it all. The Tonners are good, but will need to lift a cog. Can’t pick it. Extra time result.
Werribee D istricts v AJAX: Good team, AJAX. Better team, the Bees. Up they come into Premier B. Maybe. Bernie Sheehy’s boys will be ready for this. If the Jackers play to their level, look out. I say the Tiges shade them.
Mazenod v Old Camberwell: The Nodders form has been better all year. Anything can happen in a final, but Mazenod is a firm favourite and will probably win.
Banyule v NOB/SPC: Could one possibly think that da Bears will go out in straight sets? Surely not, though the Northerners are firing and were very impressive last week.
Therry Penola v St John’s: Line ball. Both talented teams, both will be desperate. I can’t split them. another extra time affair.
Prahran Assumption v Yarra Valley: The Four Blues are unbeaten. For now. The Valley could beat them, but it would be an upset of mammoth proportions. The odds say Prahsumption.
Ivanhoe v Monash Gryphons: Mmm. Not easy. Evenly matched outfits. I’ll say the Gryphs with no confidence whatsoever.
Swinburne v Richmond Central: The Razorbacks have the chance to prove they are at least the second best team in this comp, but the Stationmasters will be desperate to force their way out of the bottom tier. Tight, but I’m leaning to the Pigs.

19 August
In Premier, the action is at the top. Colls put top spot on the line against the Brindisians, who are risking second. Old Haileybury and OMs must find a win this week or next, or curtains drawn on Premier. If one of them does win, Old Scotch might well be in strife.
In Premier B, it’s a matter of shoring up that fourth spot, which won’t be decided until next week. Bernies, the Krushers and the Hoes are still in it.
In Premier C, there’s still a massive race for fourth spot and a fight at the bottom to see who gowns down.
In Div 1, as in all Divisions, it’s R18, with NOBs, the Friars, the Pirates and the CYS battle over two spots. Down the bottom, it’s a nervous time for Paradians and Mentonians, who meet NOBs and OGs respectively.
Div 2 sees battles for second spot and inded for fourth, plus relegation bouts too.
Div 3 appears to have a settled five, but the picture at the bottom awaits completion.
Div 4, with no relegation and no chance of the fifth team breaking in, is all about the battle for second spot between Swinny, the Stationmasters and the Sharks. However, they’re all favoured to win, so the status quo may not be disrupted.
We’ll know by 5:00 tomorrow night.

Three to go in the Premier sections and two to go in the Divisions, but this Saturday is cruch time for many. Big ones in Premier include the battle for fourth between Uni Blues at Carey at Sportscover. Not a certainty, but pretty likely that the loser of this one won’t be back at HQ this season. At the other end, Old Haileybury could climb out of the relegation zone by beating OMs, while the Dark Blues can keep (slim) hope alive with a win.
Premier B needs some sorting out too. Caulfield could do Old Ivanhoe’s chances serious harm and Old Brighton could do likewise to Oakleigh’s. Kevs need to keep winning to hold second, while St Bernard’s are finishing like a freight train.
Premier C has Old Essendon, Fitzroy and Old Camberwell slugging it out for fourth spot. Rupo is still about the place too, but must beat AJAX to stay in the race. Fitzroy plays the Bombers in an eight point contest, while OC won’t find it too easy against Monash Blues, which can still make the four or be relegated.
Division 1 has Whitefriars, Willy, NOBs and Peninsula battling over two spots. It will be over for the CYs if they lose to the Friars. Either Mentonians or Paradians will go down with Bulleen Temp.
Div 2 has some big contests,Glen Eira v Therry at the top and Aquinas v Old Westbourne at the bottom. In the middle, eltham and the Trobers fight out a big one.
Div 3 still has a massive fight at the bottom, while the five could almost be settled and in Div 4, the South Mornington v Richmond Central game should be a ripper, and it will be 5pm a week later when we truly understand the consequences.
See you at a VAFA game Saturday and don’t forget the raffle to win a trip to Ireland.  
5 August
There is a lot at stake this Saturday as teams begin the wind-up. In the Divisions, just three chances remain to secure spots in the finals, or to avoid the dreaded drop, while Premier sections have the extra chance.
In Premier this week, the headline clashes are Xavs and Colls. For the Lions, out front by a margin, the result doesn’t figure to be crucial, other than for psychological reason, but a win for Xavs makes them pretty comfortable for September and perhaps gives thm a chance at the double chance, as unlikely as that seems. That chance would be snuffed out if St Bede’s/Mentone tigers mannage to beat Uni Blues under the spires. If that indeed happens, Blues are really struggling, particularly if Old Carey tips over Old Scotch. It may well yet transpire that OX and OC meet in R18 and again in the first semi a week later. Can OMs still get out from under? They could breathe life back by beating De La Salle. Old Haileybury face Old Trinity, which has hit its straps.
Premier B leader Caulfield went down last week and the pack chasing them has yet to disperse. Old Brighton looks good for the double chance and can make the run home difficult for St Bernard’s. Kevs travel to Oakleigh in a game critical to both. Old Ivanhoe really need to beat Blacks to stay in the hunt too. a very big day in Prem B.
Premier C has a five way tussle for fourth spot, with just two points separating that bunch. Old Essendon looks to be too strong for the Unicorns, Ormond could do itself a favour if it beats Old Camberwell, which also needs a win to keep looking forward. The Jackers and Mazenod could well be some sort of September preview, while Monash Blues has the chance to overtake Fitzroy. Rupertswood might drop out of the four for now as it faces the ‘Bees.
In Div 1, the Vultures and Willy play an important game, while it will be interesting to see how Old Mentonians face up to NOBs. The Friars should rebound against Bulleen-Temp.
Division 2 leader Glen Eira, beaten last start, faces St John’s, still keen on second spot. SMD and Aquinas is another interesting contest, particularly given Districts’ big win last week.
Division 3 heavyweights Prahran Assumption could move further away from the pack, but the real battles are at the bottom with Albert Park and Poiwer House playing a Death Match Derby, and West Brunswick, Hawthorn and Kew still feeling the pinch. Elsternwick and UHS-VU have designs on fifth, and meet Ivanhoe and the Bears respectively.
Div 4 has two crackers. South Mornington hosts SFX while Eley Park hosts the Razorbacks. The two home teams here are battling for fourth spot. all in all, it shoudl be another great round. Let’s hope for little rain, less wind and a whole lot of great VAFA football.
30 July
Just before we swing into August, some very important clashes through the sections. In Premier, none bigger than Old Xavs and Uni Blues, who have Old Carey and De La Salle looking to displace them in the four.
In Premier B, first v second with Caulfield Grammarians home to Old Brighton. Old Ivanhoe face St Kevin’s in a stiff contest and Blacks are home to another contender, Oakleigh, who were nearly toppled by Hampton Rovers last week. St Bernard’s might be the winner in all this.
Mazenod and Rupo is a huge game in Premier C, though every other contest bar top v bottom – MHSOB v Werribee – has a lot riding it on it.
Div 1 – Willy need to beat Banyule, but can they? The Friars and NOBs is another big one. Looming large also is the relegation battle between Mentonians and Paradians.
Division 2’s headline is probably the St John’s v La Trobe clash, while Div 3 serves up Yarra Valley vs Ivanhoe. There’s a bit happening towards the bottom of the ladder too.
Division 4 appears relatively clean cut this week, so look for the upset. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow night, there will be but three weeks left in the Divisions’ home and away season.
Every game means something to somebody.Where will you be tomorrow?

16 July
This week, it’s back to business in all sections. It’s hard to believe that season 2011 is at least two thirds-over for all clubs.
The Premier contest of the weekend is the Sunday showdown at Sportscover. Old Xavs desperately need to beat the Tiges or could find themselves mid-table. That’s presuming Old Carey puts away De La Salle, which is no lay-down misere. Blues to beat the Bloods and Colls to take Trinity. It’s about time OMs started to win and they might beat the Scotchies this week. Might.
In Premier B, Caulfield Grammarians should toss Marcellin and Old Brighton should continue its surge by beating Hampton Rovers. The other three games are massive eight-pointers. Old Ivanhoe hostsOakleigh, Kevs are back at the alma mater against Bernies in the Ed Rice Cup, and Uni Blacks welcome Beaumaris. For the want of a better solution, stay with the home teams in those contests.
Premier C teams other than AJAX and Werribee Districts can be forgiven for the occasional look over their shoulder to see who’s chasing. There are two spots in the four available and then there are the two spots on the trapdoor. Strongest claims this week, apart from the dominant two, appear to owned by Rupo, who should beat the Roys, but I can’t pick the OC and Mazenod, nor Monash Blues and Ormond.
Div 1 has Mentonians, Paradians and Bulleen Temp finding the pace a little hot. I expect they’ll go down, respectively to Willy, Whitefriars and league leader Banyule. NOBs and the OGs is a big game and Parkdale and the Pirates might be bigger still.
Div 2 action features two massive bouts, one at the top – La Trobe v Glen Eira – and one at the bottom – Aquinas and SMS. The Eirans are hot (no pun intended), but the Trobers will strike (pun intended). The Bloods will win too, reflecting improved form of late against better teams. Therry to beat the animals, the JOCs to beat Old Westbourne and the Turtles should beat SMD.
Prahran Assumption completed a Div 3 sweep last week in defeating Yarra Valley, but must now face another finals’ contender Monash Gryphons. The Bushrangers must face a red hot Elsternwick. Good games both. I’ll stick with first and second on the ladder. Kew might scrape in against West Brunswick, the Hawks will topple Mount Lilydale and Albert Park will go in favourite against UHSVU. Ivanhoe to defeat Power House, unless Paul Edwards boots a dozen.
SFX, beaten last start, have a danger game against the Cobras. The in-form Razorbacks should beat Point Cook, Eley Park will win its derby with BHN, North Brunswick has a good show against the Stationmasters, and the improving Chadstone will be looking to toss the travelling South Mornington, but will find that a tall order.
See you at the footy.
9 July
With Open, Premier C-Div 4 and U19 Big V teams at Shepparton this Saturday, there are no games in the three Premier sections. The Divisions march on, however, but how will these teams play without some stars on Rep duty? Selectors have avoided taking two many players from the one club, but just one player missing can have a huge impact.
In Div 1, Bulleen Temp will find it difficult against Parkdale Vultures, given that Paul Florance will be wearing the Big V. Peninsula had a massive win last week and will be a handful for the visiting North Old Boys/St Pats. The Friars went down to unbeaten Banyule last week and will need to be at their best aagainst Old Geelong, though home field is usually a big bonus for Theo Vlahos’ men. Old Mentonians greet Banyule, which has three of its better players in Shepparton. Still, it’s a tough ask for the Panthers, who were hammered last week. Willy take on Paradians, who will be without Dave Boundy and James Kandilakis. 
Glen Eira are sailing in Div 2, but this week miss their two biggest stars in Glenn Boyd and Tom Paterson. Aquinas might give the Eirans a bit of trouble, given that their form has been building in recent weeks. Old Westbourne and St Mary’s Salesian will be a do-or-die struggle with the home team perhaps to get the job done. Eltham take on St John’s, who lost narrowly last week but is still chasing the double chance. Its rivals for that perch are La Trobe and Therry Penola, who meet this week in what should be a ripping contest. SMD meet the Animals. It’s a must for the Districts, but they might find Emmaus too strong.
Division 3 game of the day pits the Four Blues against the Bushrangers at Toorak Park. Prahran Assumption has been the yardstick and we will see how far along Yarra Valley is. The red hot Elsternwick seeks to clamber over UHSVU, while last year’s grand finallists in div 4, Mt Lilydale and Monash Gryphons meet in the Cidermen’s territory. The Gryphs have pressed all season while the Dales have struggled. How much is their home field worth? Perhaps not quite enough. West Brunswick might inflict more damage on struggling Power House, while Ivanhoe looks too good for the Hawks and Kew should account for the Bankers.
In Div 4, SFX should have a good battle with the Razorbacks, but it’s hard to see the X Men losing. Box Hill North might just get up this week against the improving cobras, while North Brunswick should slap Chadstone, though the Synners have been looking better in recent days. South Mornington turn up the hospitality for Point Cook, which makes the long trip don the peninsula. They could win, too. Eley Park welcomes Richmond Central in a battle for the double chance. It should be a cracker, but with Stationmaster Seb Angus wearing the Big V, I like the sharks here . . . just.
R11
It’s not that easy to pick winners, is it? Who’d a thunk the red-hot Old Scotch would go down to the Ts? The Green men did, apparently, and now they have their sights set on Old Carey. Big game. Panthers just, repeating the R1 result. Collegians tangle with Scotch and we’ll stay with the Lions. Blues to beat Melburnians and the Tiges to keep De La quiet at Brindisi. Xavs should beat Old Haileybury.
In Premier B, there are many intriguing contests. Beauy to tip out Bernies, Brighton to hold off Uni Blacks, Marcellin to worry Kevs, Oakleigh might just upset Caulfield and Hampton Rovers will go ok at the Boss v Old Ivanhoe.
Premier C has the Unicorns needing to toss Rupo, but struggling to do so. Old Essendon need to beat Monash Blues, but will likewise labour. Monders over Nodders, Jackas over Wellers (though what about last week?) and the Bees to sting again, this time beating the Roys.
Old Geelong needs to beat Willy, its rival for a finals spot. Peninsula should tip Mentonians in the Derby-by-the-Bay. The Friars take on Banyule at the College. Is this the first loss for the Bruins? No. Paradians to toss the Bullants and NOBSPC to trouble the Vultures.
Aquinas meet SMD for the Jess Cup, with the Bloods hungry to pull themselves up the ladder. The Turtles visit SMS and will be sending the victory texts. La Trobe should be big over Westbourne, emmaus will push the table-toppers Glen Eira, while Therry take on St John’s and the home ground tilts things in their favour.
The Gryphs will return to the winners list with a hard-fought contest of survival over UHS-VU. Yarra Valley > Mt Lilydale in the Far East. West Brunswick to top the Hawks, the Four Blues to beat the Bankers, Da Bears to to beat the Hoers. Elsternwick? Two in a row as they clean the House.
Point Cook should beat North Brunswick, the EP Sharks should eat the Cobras and the Razorbacks should feast on South Mornington, which has made a coaching change. The Stationmasters should beat BHN, SFX will roll over Chaddy to remain unbeaten.

R10
Except in Division 3, which is a twelve team comp, all teams have now played each other. We should know what to expect, but sometimes there are shocks and surprises. I can remember a R10 in Premier a few years back where the five losers from R1 all reversed those results. The schedules are a little more complicated these days, so this Saturday’s card is not the exact match of R1. Still, some interesting duels ahead, vital to clubs’ finals hopes.
In Premier, OMs get Xavs at the Junction, and the visitors rarely drop three straight. Old Scotch and Old Trinity should provide an entertaining afternoon, though with the Cards coming off a great win last Sunday, I’d expect them to salute. Old Carey must defeat Collegians at Dunshea, but it’s difficult to see how this will happen. Old Haileybury will be looking to grab a home win against the Brindisians, who have looked decidedly less comfortable on the road. Game of the day is De La Salle and Uni Blues. The Varsity is in better form overall, but winning at De La is never easy for visiting teams.
Premier B pits St Kev’s against one of their big bogey teams, Hampton Rovers, but SKOB should win comfortably. Beauy should ace Marcellin, Bernies must beat Oakleigh to stay on the pace, Brighton might be too good for the travelling Old Ivanhoe, and Blacks won’t want to drop a home game against the Fields, but might have no choice.
Ormond at Rupo should be a ding-dong struggle in Premier C, while the Wellers will find the Bees a tough adversary. The Nodders should ground the Bombers, the Jackers will prove too good for the Roy boys and the Ashes should toss the Unicorns.
In Division One, Banyule should chalk up another against the Pirates, Oggers should be too good for the Bullants, Parkdale will find Paradians tough, but will probably prevail. Old Mentonians will trouble Whitefriars and the NOBs trip to Willy is tough, but achievable. Maybe!
The Div 2 dance card has Glen Eira ready to pounce on Old Westbourne, and St John’s seemingly more than a match for Aquinas. But we can’t rule out some real upsets somewhere along the line. Eltham and Emmaus should be interesting, St Mary’s Salesian will find La Trobe a handful and South Melbourne Districts might just surprise Therry.
Div 3 looks like another win for the Four Blues over Mt Lilydale, and UHS-VU should survive the Power House challenge. Ivanhope will test Yarra Valley, West Brunswick and Albert Park will both be desperate in an eight point contest, the resurgent Kew might take Hawthorn and the Gryphs should beat the Wickers.
Division 4 should see Box Hill North return to the winners’ list against Chaddy, North Brunswick will have a chance against the travelling South Mornington, the Cobras should edge the Cookies, Swinburne will find the Stationmasters tough, while Eley Park’s multi-goal options should test unbeaten SFX.
See you at the footy or on twitter/vafacomm.  
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R9
Twenty-four Big V players return to their clubs tomorrow to resume normal hostilities in Round 9. In Premier, there are clashes that will shape the second half. Uni Blues, now 4-4 after starting 0-4, meet Old Carey. Should be a ripper. The Panthers could jump into third, or else fall to sixth if they lose. Blues could grab fourth. Collegians and Xavs battle it out at Sportscover Arena, with the reigning premier perhaps dropping from the top quartet should it lose. Despite Scotch’s recent win at Sportscover, ladder-leader St Bede’s/Mentone Tigers go in favourites. OMs should bounce Old Haileybury but De La won’t have it all its own way against Old Trinity.
In a very tight Premier B, unbeaten Caulfield meets Beaumaris (4 wins ,3rd) in a GF re-match. Could this be a repeat of September, with the Sharks winning against the odds? Old Ivanhoe and St Bernard’s, both on four wins, clash at Chelsworth in an eight-point game. Home team to prevail? Maybe.  Oakleigh meets Uni Blacks – same deal – four wins each and a lot to play for. Skevs (5.5, 2nd) meet a resurgent Old Brighton and will be favourites at TH King, but the Tonners like a small ground too. Marcellin must account for Hampton Rovers to remain any shot at the four.
Premier C presents a card that appears lopsided, but that’s when we get the upsets. Ormond v Fitzroy is perhaps the match of the round.
Div 1 sees a danger game for Banyule as willy will press hard. Parkdale Vultures might get a fright from Old Geelong while Old Paradians need a win art home over Mentonians.
Div 2 game of the round is La Trobe and St John’s, a GF rematch. Same result? Maybe. Therry and Glen Eira could well be a GF preview. Eirans to survive a tough test – just.
Prahran Assumption and Ivanhoe could be interesting, but all games will mean something for the crowded Div 3 ladder.
In Div 4, the Stationmasters travel to Point Cook.  Last time, Richmond Central spoiled the Cookies’ home opener last year and will hope to do so again.

R8
Last chance for clubs before the break. Is it Wait and See Weekend? Or is it Sayonara Saturday?
Premier: Best bet, DLS, but I wouldn’t be too confident after last week’s showing. All others are a flip of the coin.
Premier B: Lock in the Krushers and Beauy. All others a closer thing.
Premier C: Lick your pencil and write down the ‘Bees, the Monders and the Jackers. Then be brave and look at the other games.
Div 1: Short odds on the Bears, NOBS, Panthers and Willy. Friars host Parkdale in a beauty.
Div 2: Glen Eira for sure. St John’s likely. The other games are all a coin-flip based on recent form. An excellent round.
Div 3: Prahran Assumption looks the class of the comp so far, so lock them in. Mt Lilydale to win, but I’m not sure on the other four games. Yara Valley and the Gryphs should be a corker.
Div 4: Richmond Central, SFX and the Razorbacks should salute. Eley Park and the Cookers should be a beauty and South Mornington at home should be a handful for the Cobras. 

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R7
Prognostication is a fool’s business, as we again discovered last week. However, the one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. That said, let’s take a look at the card tomorrow.
De La Salle vs Old Melburnians and Collegians vs Old Haileybury appear good things. Old Carey vs St Bede’s/Mentone Tigers is much harder, University Blues vs Old Trinity should be a win to the home team, though the Greens are capable of an upset. Old Xaverians vs Old Scotch is my tip for the boilover. The Cards will be confident after last week’s big win and Xavs are yet to hit top gear. It’s been a long while since the Red Men got up in this one and they might just do it this time. Or not.
Premier B
St Bernard’s vs Marcellin appears a lock. Old Brighton vs Hampton Rovers less so, but probably the Tonners to win.  Beaumaris vs University Blacks is a must for both, so expect a tough encounter. Old Ivanhoe vs Caulfield Grammarians should be a win to the Fieldsmen, but the only happy memories from a first visit to Chelsworth can be the afternoon tea. St Kevin’s vs Oakleigh – SKOB likely, but the Krushers may be on the way back.
Premier C
Rupertswood vs Old Camberwell should go the way of the home team, while Mazenod vs AJAX should see the Jackers stay unbeaten. Monash Blues vs Werribee Districts should be a narrow win to the Bees. Toss-ups – Ormond vs MHSOB and Old Essendon vs Fitzroy.
Div 1
Peninsula vs Bulleen Templestowe and Williamstown vs Old Mentonians – home teams too good. Then pick –em: North Old Boys/St Pats vs Whitefriars; Banyule vs Parkdale Vultures; Old Paradians vs Old Geelong, with the home field advantage giving the edge in all cases.
Div 2
Fairly cut and dried, or so it seems. St John’s vs St Mary’s Salesian, Aquinas vs Glen Eira, Emmaus St Leos vs La Trobe University and Eltham vs Therry Penola. South Melbourne Districts vs Old Westbourne is a closer thing.
Div 3
Two good things: UHS-VU vs Albert Park and West Brunswick  vs Prahran Assumption. Then four that could be closer affairs: Monash Gryphons vs Mt Lilydale ; Kew vs Power House; Elsternwick vs Yarra Valley; Ivanhoe vs Hawthorn
Div 4
Fairly easy to sort. Maybe. Point Cook vs South Mornington; Swinburne University vs Box Hill North; Chadstone vs North Brunswick and Manningham Cobras vs St Francis Xavier. More problematic is Richmond Central vs Eley Park Sharks

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R6
We might get rain and there will be wind, but nothing keeps the VAFA from its appointed round. It might be time to get on the home teams, as their knowledge of home fields might be important. Then again, a 45 knotter blowing from the north, goal to goal, means “who kicks straight wins” as goals into the gale could be at a premium.
One quarter of devastating breeze could well alter the afternoon forever, but one has to like Collegians over DLS (there’s virtually a Big V team that could be picked from the walking wounded in both camps) and (perhaps) Xavs over Old Haileybury. OMs have a crack at Blues and who knows how this will go. Melburnians must break through sometime! Old Trinity will go in as underdog against SBMT, but could surprise. Old Carey are favourites against the Cards, but form lines suggest it could be close and even a win for Old Scotch.
In Premier B, Beauy needs a morale booster, but Kevs will be tough. Marcellin must tough it out against a rampant Caulfield and see what happens. Oakleigh at Scammell will be another test for Old Ivanhoe, who kicked but one goal last week. Uni Blacks are home to Old Brighton, and the Tonners camp will be looking for a big lift. 
Premier C looks a more cut and dried affair, so expect a boilover somewhere. Werribee Districts should win the western derby against Rupo, the Bombers look too strong for the Wellers, Monash Blues visit Ormond hopeful of winning on the road, and AJAX will get home against MHSOB. The Roys and the Nodders? Toss the coin.
Div 1 should maintain its precarious balance with Banyule and Parkdale Vultures likely winners. Oggers look good enough to the Pirates, the Friars should beat Bulleen-Temp and Paradians should survive at home against Willy CYs.
Div 2 should see Glen Eira and Therry both win, though the latter must hold off Lsa Trobe, itself a premiership contender. and perhaps a breakthrough for Aquinas. St John’s and South Melbourne could be interesting The Turtles and SMS likewise.
In Division 3, Prahran Assumption and the Gryphs look the goods and both should win. Mt Lilydale at home over Power House, Yarra Valley to test UHS-VU and Hawthorn to edge Albert Park. Ivanhoe to rain on the Wickers’ home game.
SFX looks unstoppable at the moment and should survive the Richmond Central assault. Manningham will find Box Hill North very tough, the Razorbacks to beat south Mornington, eley Park over North Brunswick  and Point Cook to shake chadstone.
Best wishes to Mark Seccull from Old Haileybury on his 300th and to all who will brave the elements to seek the four points for their clubs.

R5
With a solid month behind us, we should be a bit closer to solving the puzzle. But everything in its own time. The vagaries of the draw have left some clubs with the rough end of the pineapple, while others might have had some good fortune.
In Premier, Old Melburnians and particularly University Blues have had tough starts. I suspect in the next five weeks that both will right their ship somewhat, but where that leaves them in relation to the pack is hard to know.
Collegians is clearly the bolter and it will be a very good team that beats them. On Sunday at the ‘Wick, Old Trinity steps up to the plate, needing to be at its very best to grab the points. A big ask indeed. Old Carey attempts to regroup against OMs and goes in a heavy favourite. Old Scotch is up and about and will like its chances at De La Salle, which was rocked again this week when Justin Baxter needed a spleen operation. Right now, Cabrini Hospital is DLS’ second home ground. Xavs, latter day Houdinis, face a big one at Brindisi Street against a Tigers lineup showing some of their strut again. Uni Blues meet Old Haileybury at Sportscover tomorrow and they would find an 0-5 start unpalatable indeed.
In Premier B, Bernies get a visit from Beaumaris. a week ago, it would have been hard to tip the Snow Dogs, but they might have found something. Old Brighton takes on last start winner Marcellin in a critical game, an old fashioned 8-pointer! The ‘Hoes go to TH King to meet Skevs in a beauty. Toss-up here. Uni Blacks were not quite up to it last week and they might not enjoy their trip to meet a ripe Caulfield Grammarians. I suspect Hampton Rovers will get it done at the Boss against Oakleigh.
Premier C has the in-form Unicorns at home to the Roys. High School again. The Nodders are home to the Wellers in a battle of two clubs that have disappointed somewhat. Mazenod. Old Essendon welcomes Rupo. Toss a coin. Monash Blues and AJAX should be hard-fought but it’s tough to go past the Jackers. Werribee should bounce back against Ormond.
Division One seems to all Banyule right now and the Bears should survive the road trip to Peninsula. The Friars are back home and should beat Paradians. Parkdale Vultures will be confident of defeating NOB/SPC. Old Mentonians host Old Geelong and would need to be at their best. Willy should defeat Bulleen Temp.
In Div 2,  it’s a danger round. La Trobe hosts Eltham and the home team is expected to win. St Mary’s Salesain is capable of upsetting Therry Penola but will need to be at 100 per cent. Old Westbourne hopes to stop the Glen Eira Express but probably won’t. The Animals greet St John’s, who may be rediscovering 2010 form. South Melbourne Districts, big winners last week, will not want to take Aquinas lightly. The Bloods were gallant in defeat last week and will be desperate again for a breakthrough.
Div 3 table-toppers Prahran Assumption looks to have elsternwick covered. UHSVU will be favoured against the Cider Men, who bounced back to form last week. Ivanhoe welcomes Monash Gryphons in a game that should be a beauty. Yarra Valley goes to West Brunswick and should win. Power House will be looking for a massive turnaround, but Hawthorn will be no easy prey. Albert Park should have enough for an improving Kew.
Point Cook will find it tough against the Razorbacks. SFX should beat EPS. Box Hill North is going well and might have too much for the Stationmasters. North Brunswick face a danger opponent in Manningham Cobras, while South Mornington receives a visit from Chaddy in a clash of clubs that have disappointed.  
    
R4
What to expect? After last week’s massive round in Premier, the schedule has given us another slate of games bound to send some pulses racing. Collegians host Carey, hoping to cement sole possession of the tabletop. It should be a great game, with both teams in great form. Hard to pick against the Lions at the Trott. Plenty of very good teams have lost there in the past, and I suspect the Panthers will lower their colours tomorrow.
Xavs and De La Salle renew old acquaintances. This may now be the most famous battle of the tribes in VAFA football. Neither team has achieved full strength yet and neither is in their best form. Each club needs a boost and De La might just get the edge here.
Uni Blues are winless at Brindisi Street and winless for the season. However, they’ve had a horror run and it might be time for them to break through. That’s never easy down at Mentone, however. SBMT have been in good form and will be confident on home turf. They’ll need to kick straight for a change.
Old Scotch brings in Old Melburnians, hoping to keep them on their streak of outs. The Cardinals appear the steadier, though there is a flash of brilliance in the OMs team that suggests if they catch fire, they’ll get the points.
Old Haileybury will get a visit from Old Trinity, which snatched a draw last week and is performing beyond expectations. This will be close. The Bloods are more competitive than their record suggests and they might get up.
In Premier B, the game of the day is the Kempton Cup clash between Uni Blacks and Skevs. I’m picking the Varsity, with no great confidence. The other four games appear more clear cut – Hoes over Rovers, Caulfield to beat the Tonners, Beauy to beat Marcellin and the Krushers to do Bernies.
Di Langton’s column in the Amateur Footballer this week might confuse, but her tips don’t. The Unicorns to prevail over the Nodders, Monders over Bombers, Wellers over Roys – maybe not says I – Werribee Districts over AJAX in a good one, Ashes to beat Rupo.
Div 1 seems to be sorting itself out early. Banyule to beat Mentonians, Parkdale to toss Peninsula, with the other three games harder for me to pick. Whitefriars are at the Junction against Old Geelong and I think they might sneak home. Paradians to edge Bulleen Templestowe and Willy to beat NOBSPC.
Glen Eira, Therry, La Trobe and Emmaus all appear good things in Div 2. St John’s and the Turtles will be a game where anything can happen.
Division 3 sees Prahran-Assumption battling UHSVU in an intriguing affair. Yarra Valley night have the edge on Power Hose, West Brunny on the Cidr Men, the Wickers over the Hawks and the Gryphs over Kew. Scribe Rich Hummerston says Ivanhoe and albert Park to draw. I bet they don’t.
Division 4 sees the Cookies return west to welcome the Cobras. A close one here, methinks. Swinburne and SFX provide the match of the day and it could swing either way. Eley Park to beat south Mornington, North Brunswick to recover and beat Richmond Central and BHN to keep Chaddy to a soccer score.
There’s something there for everyone. See you at the footy and follow live scores here or on [email protected].
R3
Is this the second season, or merely a restart? There are 23 clubs with senior teams currently without a win on the board. But the season never really begins until the chocolates have been put away.
There are some gripping contests this weekend. It’s Rivalry Round, which means local derbies, ancient feuds, recent jealousies, deep-seated envy. More than these, it’s just the usual lust for the four premiership points.
Premier football pits Old Trinity and Old Scotch at Marles. It was R3 last year that the Green Men stomped out the Reds’ threat in 2010. There is no doubt that the Cardinals are in better shape than they were last season, but the Triad has form that will make this a great contest. Uni Blues always put up a strong fight against Old Xaverians and quite often beat the. Xavs have won some memorable games under the spiress, but rarely are at their best there. both teams will be desperate. Over at the Bell, it’s the La Sallian derby. The Brindisians have suffered big defeats there in recent years and they will want to take one back tomorrow. and what of Old Melburnians, which will be fighting its neighbour Collegians in an attempt to break through for its first win. Old Carey, fresh from the break after two wins, meet last year’s GF opponent Old Haileybury. A chance for revenge, yes, but one suspects that the Bloods will need to be in top nick to win at Dunshea.
Premier B sees the Dunes Derby between Beauy and Old Brighton. This will be a close one. The Bernies have had a shocking start but there’s nothing like a clash with rival SKOB to kick-start the season. Out north, Old Ivanhoe welcome Marcellin. The ‘Hoes have begun the year steadily, while the Eagles are still sharpening their talons. Caulfield Grammarians, for the third season running, has bolted early. This week’s hurdle is Oakleigh, who dumped them from the finals in 2009. Big clash. Hampton Rovers host Uni Blacks, which will start favourite in a game that could go either way.
Picking Premier C’s card seems more of a fait accompli, but VAFA football always surprises. Rupo meet the Roys, the Wellers play the Unicorns, AJAX take on the Monders and the Bees fly with the Bombers. The money might be on those first named teams, but I’m not sure where it will land with the clash between the Nodders and the ‘Ashes.
Division 1 has scribe Darren Dawson selecting the five visiting clubs. It’s difficult to argue with him, with his selections all showing good form lines. The Friars could surprise CYs and Paradians might be harder than one might think for the Vultures.
Division 2 sees a massive joustr between Glen Eira and La Trobe and the result will give us a good view of the terrain in the section. St John’s needs a win, as does Aquinas,which should make for a very tight Oriental Derby. The Penolans, the Animals and the Turtles are favoured to do the business.
In Div 3, it’s back to Kilmore week as the Four Blues share a bus with Hawthorn. Every game in the section could go either way and the round will give us a clearer view through some murky waters.
SFX seem to be eating up Div 4, but these are early days. This week, it’s South Mornington that travels to Beaconsfield. Good game, this. The Whitehorse Wrangle features Box Hill North and Eley Park. The Sharks appear to be a bit stronger at this stage. North Brunswick has surprised early and should hold off Point Cook, while the Shoppers hang tough hoping that the drought will break soon. It’s unlikely it will happen against the Cobras.
See you at the footy.
R2
How many definitive statements can be made after just one round? If we look at Premier, perhaps not many. Old Trinity surprised Old Carey for most of the game, despite major absence and injury. Then again, the Panther comeback was strong and sustained.
Unfortunately, in Division 4, the Synners’ streak has continued into 2011. It has another shot to finally right the ship, but St Francis Xavier will be in no mood for charity after last season. They’ve begun with a W and they’ll be seeking another. Richmond Central was perhaps the surprise loser last week, but it was a hard-fought black and gold derby, if you can remotely describe the Stationmasters and South Mornington as neighbours. The South may be ready to rise again! The Razorbacks might be strong this year, but their opponent this week Eley Park might also have designs on a September seeding.
Division 3 opened up with some interesting results last week. All eyes still on the Prahran Assumption club, which faces the Monash Gryphons tomorrow. The Gryphs have developed a winning feelign and this should be a cracking game. Power House and UHS-VU might well be on track for solid years after their first-up wins.
Division 2 eyes are still focused on the field. It is a tough division to win first up, and history shows, even to survive. La Trobe Uni took its first step last week, while the JOCs didn’t quite get there. Glen Eira and Therry Penola already appear as two of the stronger outfits.The latter travels to St John’s for a clash that might tell us a bit.
Division 1’s top clash this weekend might be Banyule and Whitefriars, but it’s tough to make that call with hjust one round of exposed form. Peninsula v Paradians the travellers’ special and should be a good and close game.
In Premier C, the winners seem easy to identify, but I suspect there will be an upset that will force the pundits to recalibrate their measurements. Old Essendon and Mazenod is one to watch, as are Ormond and Rupo, MHSOB and the Ashes. The other two contests might surprise too.
In Premier B, Beaumaris v Old Ivanhoe and Old Brighton v Oakleigh will be beauties by the bay.
In Premier, De La and Carey should be the match of the day, while Colls and Blues should produce a close result. Down at Todd Road, OMs attempt a reboot after their fade last week, but the Brindisians come in and are never easy.


……………….
R1
The curtain goes up on season 2011 tomorrow and we will soon begin to develop our thoughts about the season ahead. For the players who go through training, matches, recovery, rehabilitation and the many Friday nights of abstinence (or moderation), it can be a long haul.
Last year saw a split opening round, but first returns proved conclusive. Of the fourteen eventual premiers in seniors and reserves, ten won their first hit-out. Of the senior teams, five of the seven had a victory, with the exceptions being in the top two tiers. So round one gives us an indicator, but does not reveal the whole picture of who is heading for the top. However, when we look at the two teams that finished in the cellar in each senior section, we discover that thirteen of the fourteen set out along that path from the first game.
What that all means, I am unsure, other than to suggest that a win in R1 means that’s one less you need to win when the going gets really tough.. Perhaps it is just a statistical aberration for 2010.
Much of the attention around the VAFA will be on those teams playing in a new section, whether by means of promotion or relegation.
Old Carey plays Premier for the first time. Someone wise suggested this week that the Panthers tomorrow become just the fifth club to play in all seven senior sections, but that proposition was politely rejected. Can you name the four clubs that have played in all seven? (*Answer below – and if you are guessing Old Scotch, you can stop right there).
Nonetheless, Carey’s appearance in the top tier is a great achievement and the word coming from Dunshea is that the uncharted territory holds no fear for them.
Werribee Districts are in Premier C for the first time and are a club on the move. They should settle nicely and be around the mark.
La Trobe University has made a double jump and these early weeks should indicate if it has bitten off more than it can chew. History tells us that the jump to Div 2 is larger than any other than the jump to Premier, so we’ll watch the Trobers and St John’s with great interest.
Of the teams coming down, Parkdale Vultures appears an early favourite to bounce back. They’ve recruited a swag, but anyone who thinks it’s a lay down misere for them has not reckoned on Banyule, which may again be the well-oiled machine it was last season.
All clubs now have a week to enter the Sportscover $10,000 Pick the Premiers competition. I’ll be brave and pick mine a week earlier.
Premier: De La Salle – if you believe in that confounded window, or the premiership clock, you’d suspect they need to dais this September. But they’ll have plenty of competition. Collegians, Blues again to show strength, OMs looking good too, SBMT and Scotch to be stronger and don’t write first timer Old Carey, nor Xavs, which chases its thirteenth flag in the 30th anniversary year of its first.
Premier B: St Bernard’s – I suspect the Snow Dogs have had long enough in B to know they want back into the main game. I also suspect Uni Blacks may feel the same way.
Premier C: Werribee Districts – others have strong claims, but I can see the ‘bees having a significant first season up.
Division 1: Banyule – Brockwell’s boys by a nose from a rejuvenated Parkdale.
Division 2: Glen Eira – look the goods to me after going quite close last year. St John’s and La Trobe should hold their own at worst.
Division 3: Monash Gryphons – great momentum could carry them through. Or not.
Division 4: Richmond Central – it is time for the Stationmasters to chalice. Surely.
This prognostication caper is hardly an exact science and it will be weeks before we can even think about teams playing finals. The first job is stay away from the relegation zone (in Premier through Division 3) and see how things develop.
Good luck to all clubs for season 2011. Win or lose, there will be many good times had and new friendships formed.
* The four clubs are: Elsternwick, Kew, Power House, University High.

12 August