VAFA Top 30 Best Bits: 30-21

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Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead

2017 played host to numerous highlights throughout the VAFA and we’ve endeavoured to find the 30 most memorable. From Rhiannon Green’s grand final goal to the success of the VAFA Ireland Tour, there was no shortage of thrilling moments and we will bring you each one over the next three days.

30. Australia crush England…sort of.

No, we’re not talking Ashes. In the final match of the 2017 VAFA Ireland & London Tour, every record ever set in the history of that trip was demolished in the space of two hours. Following three international rules games throughout the Emerald Isle, the Big V came up against an AFL London All Stars team in Reading for one final stanza, this time with the oval ball. Keen to complete their trip on a high, what ensued was three quarters of pure dominance as the Big V booted 23 goals to one after the first term. 14 players shared in the 26-goal haul, with Nick Nagel (Power House) and Lochy Dornauf (Uni Blacks) leading from the front with four each. It was the largest-ever winning margin from a representative team on the tour and the 10th highest from any section in the history of the Big V. While AFL London’s players were all expats, we’re claiming this as a national victory.

29. Cobras snap 17-year run 

For 17 years the Manningham Cobras (Bulleen Cobras prior to 2007) have plied their trade in Division 4, unable to break through for the third flag in their club’s history. Despite being unable to claim their first piece of silverware since 1986, the Cobras managed to end their 17-year stay in Division 4 with a grand final appearance against Aquinas. After finishing third with 13 wins for the season, the Cobras flew through Mt Lilydale and edged past North Brunswick before going down to the Bloods by 25 points in the decider.

28. HOC’s Three-Peat

While three players produced the triple crown in 2017 (which will be released later in this list), a similar performance took place in the VAFA Umpiring Department. Haydn O’Connor was named VAFA Umpire of the Year for his outstanding season which included officiating the William Buck Premier Grand Final, the Big V senior representative match & touring Ireland as the VAFA’s International Rules umpire. All-in-all, it doesn’t get much better for men and women in green, or orange, or white…..

27. Barney & Mr Bourke join Big V Champions

Russell Barnes (Ormond) and Nick Bourke (Marcellin & Old Xaverians) are two of the most revered characters in the history of the Big V and were deservedly recognised as they were inducted as Champions of the Big V at the RACV Club in August. Barney, who played 11 of the most courageous Big V games between 1981 and 1989, and Nick, who excelled as both a player and coach in 20 Big V matches, were celebrated by family, friends and a host of fellow Big V compatriots as they joined the illustrious group of 40 Champions & Legends.

26. Oggettes, Sheagles claim first-ever Lightning Premierships

The VAFA Wilson Women’s Competition kicked off with a Lightning Premiership weekend at Sportscover Arena in April. 28 newly-formed teams descended upon the home of Amateur football for their first competitive hit-out, with Old Geelong and Marcellin claiming victory across the two days. While we saw women singing happy birthday for their teammates prior to games and club songs belted out with more gusto than could previously be imagined, the highlight of the weekend was, of course, the Old Geelong women celebrating their Lightning Premiership with bottles of Verve Clicquot on the forward 50 of the Glenhuntly Road end.

25. Box Hill North Go Down to Get Up

After being forced to enter a Club XVIII team due to an inability to field both a seniors and reserves team at the start of the season, Box Hill North hit back big time with their first premiership in the VAFA after they defeated Chadstone by 57 points. While the club proudly hangs flags in their clubrooms from past competitions, their 2017 Club XVIII (2) premiership is their first since joining the VAFA in 2002. Such has been the success of their recent rebuilding effort, the Demons have been re-admitted to Division 4 in 2018.

24. Farah, Chapman go back-to-back

Winning a competition best & fairest award is a rare honour for most individuals let alone claiming two on the trot. However, both John Farah (Hawthorn Spartans) and Michael Chapman (Monash Blues) did just that in their respective Club XVIII competitions this year. After first winning the awards in 2016, the Club XVIII stalwarts were named victors yet again when the news was exclusively announced on a special edition of VAFA Tragics.

23. Uni Blacks celebrate Indigenous Round

While 2017 was the 125-year celebration of the VAFA at a community level, it was also the 50-year national anniversary of the 1967 referendum where Australians voted to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for them. University Blacks, led by Tyrone Bean, celebrated the momentous occasion with the first-ever Indigenous Round match in our Association. They wore specifically-designed indigenous guernseys and commenced their Round 7 clash against St Kevin’s with this spine-tingling welcome smoking ceremony and traditional indigenous dance….

22. Cardinals’ 15-goal blitz

Brunswick Street Oval was the scene of the most one-sided quarter of football in 2017. With scores tied at 29-apiece at half-time of the Round 9 Fitzroy and Old Scotch clash, the Cardinals exploded in the third and piled on 15 goals to two in the most dominant 30 minutes of football imaginable. Max Van Den Broek was irrepressible, Jono Daggian ran rings around his opponents and Dylan Gilbert was sinking them from all angles as the Cardinals simply could not be stopped.

21. Crocs claim 21

Old Xaverians ‘Crocs’ have always been a powerhouse of Club XVIII but these latest numbers are simply ridiculous. When the Crocs ran over South Mornington to the tune of 47 points in this year’s Section 1 Grand Final, it was their 21st in Club XVIII history and 12th since the turn of the century. Say what? Adding to the momentous occasion was the fact Crocs forward, David Landrigan, kicked three goals in his 300th match for the club – the first Xav to reach the milestone.