Editorial: Preliminary finals a tense, rollicking football affair

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By Michael Sholly – VAFA Chief Executive Officer

What are the biggest games of VAFA football for the year?  The Premier grand final followed by the Premier B preliminary final would be my top two and this year maybe the Old Scotch relegation game would rank three. For each section it may be the preliminary finals and the last chance to gain promotion. Promotion and relegation realty is the life blood of the competition and the preliminary finals are always tense. For six of the seven senior sections the grand finals really are the icing on the cake and played for the enjoyment of the game.

Six Division preliminary finals were held last week. In Division 1 Ormond responded from their second semi-final loss and came from behind to defeat Old Geelong and return to Premier C. Old Paradians followed up their first semi win defeating St John’s to earn their promotion.

Divisions 3 and 4 have two preliminary finals and are cut throat.  Emmaus St Leos went through the year undefeated and won their semi but had to play a cut throat preliminary final.  After losing last year by a point to Northern Blues there would have been an anxious week leading up to the game. However they blew away Aquinas winning by just under a hundred points.  They will really able to enjoy their Grand Final as they take on West Brunswick who will join them in Division 2.

Canterbury, on the other hand, after a spectacular home and away season losing only their final match, lost their semi but got the double chance.  They were too good for Box Hill North winning by 48 points.  Parkside re-entered the VAFA this year and have made an immediate impact by gaining promotion.  They have had two convincing finals wins and will be looking forward to meeting Canterbury in the grand final.

I know there are some negatives about our structure of the final six but preliminary finals in the VAFA are the best games and this system allows for two. Finals are a different beast, the pressure rises and in the preliminary finals the rewards for the winners are so much greater than the loser.

This weekend another two more teams will earn promotion.  Marcellin have competed in each finals series since being relegated from Premier B in 2011. They should take inspiration from the victory of St Kevin’s last weekend when they take on Old Haileybury in Premier C. St Kevin’s had lost their past ten finals in Premier B but saluted in a high quality match at Sportscover Arena against St Bede’s Mentone Tigers. The Tigers get their chance as they battle Old Melburnians who have played in the last four Premier B finals series.

The William Buck Premier competition is a different beast. There are no promotions here so the premiership is what everyone is after.  Old Trinity commenced in 1954 and have never played in a premier section grand final. At three quarter time there seemed only a slim chance as they were down by 37 points having only kicked two goals three behinds. How things can change. They kicked six goals four to one point win by seven points. They have become a resilient team winning 18 of 19 second halves this year. They won’t lie down.  St Bernard’s face a hot University Blues who have won the last seven.

The vote count of the Premier B to Division 4 was conducted on 96.5 Inner FM on Tuesday and Wednesday night.  Congratulations to the winners and in particular Paul Baranello from Emmaus St Leos on winning his third competition best and fairest and Dean Calcedo from Northern Blues on following up his win in 2010 in the Under 18 competition with a tie in Division 2. The Woodrow Medal for the best and fairest in the William Buck Premier Section will be held at Crown this Wednesday. All winners will be presented their medals along with the Coaches Most Valuable Player, the Club Warehouse Rising Star and the goal and mark of the year.

Make sure you get to the William Buck Premier grand final next Sunday which will be held for the first time at IKON Park Carlton.  With the Premier B and C grand finals on Saturday it guarantees an exciting climax to the season.