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The kids are headed back to school and the summer is almost gone. The days might be cooler, but the action keeps gets hotter, with players training the house down and club officials watching intently, poised with clipboards, pens and registration forms.
Tuesday 1 February, National Signature Day, kicks off the massive pre-season player migration, with hundreds and hundreds of players signing with VAFA clubs for the first time.
Many of these players are the targets of more than one club and getting them to put their autograph in the allotted space on the one page form can be a complex and lengthy exercise.
Every club has stories about the players that slipped through their fingers late in the piece, sometimes after practice games. On a happier note, there is the recruit that lands without prior courting, the bloke who walks in off the street a stranger and becomes a hero within weeks.
Online registrations are open and over the next ten weeks, we will see the fruits of the work put in by club officials since umpire Grant Wardrop raised his arms on 19 September last to signal full-time on the 2009 season.

The old adage about the harder you work, the luckier you get does not always hold, but it is fair to say that in the long run, those clubs that plan the best and work the hardest (and smartest) are more successful in the long run, even if those prized signatures aren’t always forthcoming.
Soon we’ll know whether those new faces that have been burning it up are more than just a mirage.
Follow all the recruiting news below. As it happens! (Well, not really!)
1 Feb 0930: Glen Eira is the first VAFA club to submit an online clearance application for an incoming player.
1 Feb 1130: Point Cook logs eleven clearances in one swoop to take an impressive lead in the recruitment stakes.
1 Feb 12:00: Summary of the first morning’s activity: IN: 9 OUT: 11 CHANGING VAFA CLUBS:
1 Feb 1500: Banyule has been working hard over the holidays. It has submitted clearances for eleven new recruits.
1 Feb 2300: Richmond Central (6) and St Francis Xavier (6) dominated the evening session. Matty Robbins applies for clearance from Ormond to Hampton Rovers, ending speculation he won’t be at the Boss.
2 Feb 1200: De La Salle signs a swag of juniors.
2 Feb 1215: Details now available on the clearance page under “Fixtures” heading.
2 Feb 1500: No massive action. Expect a swag of applications after training tomorrow night, though some clubs may hold on to forms to maintain the shroud of mystery that accompanies the recruiting period. Of course, that’s not as easy as it once was.
2 Feb 2330: Banyule and Point Cook sign another handful.
3 Feb 1530: Old Mentonians add a few juniors. Old Haileybury lists Adam Weekes from Mazenod, the founder of the Nodders’ Facebook page.
4 Feb 1315: A quiet evening and a quiet morning. Mainly juniors transferring to their senior clubs.
7 Feb 0930: Reasonably quiet weekend. Old Scotch looks to have had its rural scouting network working well.  
8 Feb 0930: Sorry to see the departures of Scott Krakouer and Michael “Spicy” Cardamone (Aquinas) and Mick Stinear (DLS) to suburban leagues. Opening Day is just 60 more sleeps. In the week since National Signature Day, eleven players have sought to cross between VAFA clubs, sixty have opted to head on down the road and eighty-nine are going to new boys in the VAFA.
9 Feb 1600: West Brunswick, Old Paradians and University Blacks land a few signatures each. Blacks’ star Matt O’Hara headed back to WA. Otherwise, the clubs are quiet.
11 Feb 1015: Parkdale Vultures and Albert Park sign a slew of players. Collegians pick up a couple, including Matthew Flynn, who is either the former Old Scotch player returning from Queensland or else the drummer from Maroon 5. Old Melburnians lose an experienced pair – Marty Kennon and Tim Horne -to the sticks.
17 Feb 0900: Activity beginning to build. Prahran Assumption and West Brunswick have inked a few players from the country and beyond, while Williamstown CYMS seems a popular destination for juniors.
22 Feb 1100: SBMT‘s Brendan Neville and Michael Curcio heading out of Brindisi Street? Apparently so. Beaumaris to regain Scott Gower full-time from Sandy? Old Scotch‘s Big V ruckman Tom Campbell off to the Bendigo Bombers, as is Old Melburnian Josh Freezer. Old Carey picks up a couple of handy ones. Callan Buckley leaves Old Brighton for BeaumarisUni Blacks snare Conor Meredith, an Irishman from North Melbourne’s rookie list. The plot thickens, with just forty sleeps to go before the Acme Thunderer pierces the damp autumn morning.
28 Feb 0930: A massive coup for Collegians last week with the signing of Nick Sautner, who will no doubt worry many full backs this season.
2 Mar 0830: Stats from the first month of trading: Players coming to VAFA clubs – 323; Players leaving VAFA – 218; Players crossing between VAFA clubs – 78. The free market at work.
3 Mar 1200: Uni Blues land another bunch from the country. Uni Blacks, however, appear to have lost Conor Meredith (see 22 Feb) to an Essendon District outfit.
7 Mar 1030: St Bernard’s regain Tate Pearson, Michael Stapleton and Andrew Merrington. Power House sign a swag, including journeyman John Rombotis.
22 Mar 1500: The Wellers have signed Sean Rusling, the former Collingwood forward with the super boot.