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Mother Nature was kind to us over the weekend with all finals played under blue skies and only a slight breeze that did pick up on Sunday. The main change at Sportscover Arena was the addition of a temporary grandstand installed for the all finals during September. The stand seats over 400 patrons and the extra elevation gave the spectators a better view of the action.
Already we have five teams who have progressed to Grand Finals and with that, guaranteeing a place in a higher section. University Blues have played like a Premier team all year and after a tight tussle in the first three quarters were able to pull away from St Kevin’s in the final quarter to take a deserved victory. It is terrific to see a club’s player group find the resolve to rebound from the disappointment of relegation after 20 years in the Premier Section. It has been a credit to the club, who have also taken out the Winning Edge Club Championship ahead of St Bernard’s, finishing on top in the firsts and reserves, finishing fourth in the higher Premier section thirds comp and second in the Under 19’s. Blues also responded to a VAFA call and fielded a team in the Under 18 competition. They do deserve the honour of returning to our Premier Section.
After going winless for over a season and plummeting to Division 1, Hampton Rovers have resurged and under youthful administration and coaching departments have won their way back to Premier B. It has been a lot of hard work to see this proud club, who commenced in the VAFA in 1933, return to the upper echelons and it would be great for the competition to see them join rival Bayside club Beaumaris in Premier.
Williamstown CYMS are another great community club success story. They are the only community football club left in Williamstown and their relationship with their VFL club will only be strengthened by their promotion to Premier C. Much of the credit must go to their coach Matthew Montebello who led their juniors in 2012 and progressed with this group coaching the seniors last year to third position and now into the Grand Final. 
I am sounding like a broken record but St Mary’s Salesian have built an outstanding club with a culture that would make many envious. Not only were the seniors and reserves successful on the weekend but the club challenged themselves and entered a team in the Premier C Thirds. They too saluted on the weekend to progress to a third grand final for the club. Congratulations to St Mary’s Salesian President David Malcom and first year coach former North Melbourne and Fremantle player, Jess Sinclair. Jess had a distinguished AFL career playing 192 matches before retiring in 2008.
Hawthorn remain as the only undefeated senior team in the VAFA and fully deserve their promotion to Division 3. After being top of the table last year they were disappointed to fall in straight sets and last Sunday there would have been a few tense moments as West Brunswick hit the lead in the final quarter. They managed to steady and claim victory. The club also has their reserves still alive and the Clubbies went down to the Old Xaverian Crocodiles in Club XVIII Section 1 Grand Final.
The stories of all these clubs are remarkably similar. All have dedicated off field leaders who have patiently built depth into their club. All have either a Thirds or Club XVIII team to add the required depth to their playing roster and all have provided a great environment for the players on and off the field. Four of these five are community clubs who have built a large base of volunteers and are now reaping the rewards of their hard work.
Premier Section joins the finals race this weekend with University Blacks taking on St Bernard’s and Old Scotch playing Collegians. 
Interestingly both of these teams played each other in the last round but with places secure there was a few coaching strategies employed. To give all teams an equal 7 day break leading into the preliminary final these matches will both be played on Saturday at Sportscover Arena and Sandringham respectively. 
Maybe next year, the Sportscover Arena match will be played at night to avoid the clash.