By Michael Sholly – @vafaceo
This week we see the final round of all the Divisions and Under 19’s, the preliminary finals of the Premier B and C Thirds and the Club XVIII Grand Finals. The Club XVIII Grand Final will have a missing ingredient; the Old Xaverian Crocodiles will not be playing in the Grand Final for the first time since 1992. What an amazing record – 24 consecutive Grand Finals for 18 premierships. This year, defending champions Hawthorn take on St Francis Xavier in Division 1 and Old Geelong play West Brunswick in the second division.
Most of the finalists throughout the divisions are reasonably secure in their positions. Old Mentonians, Old Geelong, Therry and PEGS look set to fight out the Division 1 finals. These four have been strong over the past month and pulled away from St Mary’s Salesian despite the Saints still having a slim chance. The win by Brunswick NOBSPC over Old Paradians kept the relegation battle alive. Paradians at home against sixth-placed Ivanhoe or Brunswick away against seventh-placed Whitefriars?
In Division 2, the top three are settled with St John’s, West Brunswick and Preston Bullants secure. A big win by MHSOB last week over fourth-placed Yarra Valley keeps their hopes alive. On paper Yarra Valley has the easier draw as they take on seventh-placed Bulleen Templestowe away whilst MHSOB host West Brunswick who need to win to keep the double chance. Richmond Central, after a period of five years where they played in finals and went from Division 4 to Division 2, will return to Division 3.
A final six in Division 3 has opened the gates for Power House who have won their past five matches and heading to the finals in good form. Top sides, Glen Eira and Hawthorn, do battle this week but will have a bye in the first week of the finals while the other four teams fight for a right to play them in the preliminary final. Two cut throat preliminary finals will sort out the grand finalists and those promoted to Division 2 in 2017. Aquinas, Elsternwick and Parkside will fight it out in Division 4 next year
Westbourne Grammarians are the only undefeated senior team in the VAFA this year. They have had a marvellous year and look way too good for their opposition with a percentage of 350; over 160 higher than second placed Point Cook. Still, promotion is never guaranteed until you win a final. There are numerous stories of sides being in the same position as Westbourne and going out in straight sets. After the disappointment of going out last year they deserve to finish undefeated. These two western suburbs clubs are joined by Eley Park Sharks and Mt Lilydale who make up the four.
With two rounds remaining in the Premier Sections, the competition is relentless. How are the bottom teams in Premier C feeling? The bottom four Ormond, Oakleigh, Marcellin and Old Camberwell did what they had to do – win against the higher placed teams. After completing their game, sing the club song then find out that each of the sides around them had also won. Relegation games are always the most compulsive and these sides will have to do it all again. Gunn Reserve will be a ripper as Ormond host Oakleigh. In Premier, St Bernard’s must beat Blacks to survive.
On behalf of the Board and staff we would like to thank all the volunteers who will be finishing up this weekend. They have put as much into the year as the players and hopefully the time has been rewarding. Keep supporting the competition as we head toward finals. For those keen VAFA supporters you can purchase a finals card at for just $50. This gets you into every final including the Premier Grand Final at IKON Park.