It has been an incredibly tough task but the top 10 best bits from the VAFA season are in. From Mal Mitris’ post-final siren game-winner to Jake Williams making it Woodrow number two, enjoy the final instalment.
10. Beetham stands tall
There were numerous outstanding individual performances throughout the VAFA finals series, but arguably none better than Caydn Beetham’s William Buck Premier Grand Final display. In the slippery conditions at Ikon Park, Beetham went next level when the game was there to be won and booted two goals in a best-on-ground performance. His contested ball work was upstaged only by his ability to cease the moment, with his second major from beyond 50m the icing on the cake for Old Xaverians.
9. Lions in OT thriller
One of the rare pleasures and excitement-inducing moments in Australian rules football is the fifth quarter; or over-time. With scores tied 64-64 at the conclusion of the fourth term in the U19 Section 3 Grand Final, Collegians & Ormond went to OT and certainly did not disappoint the enthusiastic Sportscover Arena crowd. With match-winning ruck work, 50m bombs, contested grabs & last-minute composure in extra-time, there were highlights everywhere you looked accompanied by outstanding commentary. The young bloods were ice cool.
8. Captain Mal wins it after the siren
Old Ivanhoe Grammarians and Kew were going goal-for-goal in the final moments of their Round 2 thriller at Chelsworth Park. The Bears led by five but the Hoes gave one last thrust inside 50 where skipper, Mal Mitris, put on his superman cape, came from five deep and plucked a monster captain’s mark in front of goal. The siren sounded, the skipper converted with ice running through his veins and the crowd went ballistic in the greatest piece of footage this year. Re-live the incredible last 60 seconds here.
7. Chilli umpires game 800
There are few personalities in the VAFA community as popular as Kevin ‘Chilli’ Segota and for good reason. The VAFAUA notched up his 800th VAFA match when he manned the goals in the Old Xaverians and University Blues’ Round 7 clash at Toorak Park in May after commencing his career in 1978 as a 17-year-old boundary umpire. A guard of honour from both sides greeted Chilli as he walked out to the middle and Channel 7 ran a story on his accomplishments, showcasing the great respect he holds amongst the entire community.
6. Tylar flies for Mark of the Year
Tylar Vujanic waited until the semi-final against Therry Penola to take the 2016 ZEN Mark of the Year, but boy was it worth the wait. The athletic PEGS players got the run and proved he has some of the best hops in the competition as he flew, hung and pulled down the genuine screamer. Serious, serious hops.
5. Sportscover Arena secures upgrade
After years of hard work undertaken by previous and current VAFA Boards, Administrators and Clubs, Sportscover Arena will transform into the MCG of the South-East as it undergoes a $6.4 million redevelopment. The home of Amateur football received the go-ahead in March, with State Minister for Sport, John Eren, announcing the State Government’s $3 million investment into the project alongside the financial contributions from the AFL, AFL Victoria, Bayside City Council, Old Melburnians and the VAFA. Headed by VAFA CEO, Michael Sholly, it is the largest acquisition of state funding for a community football oval, with a new playing surface and administration building just the beginning.
4. Di Natale’s dream season
While a lot of the moments appearing in the best bits of the VAFA season are acts of individual brilliance, few compare to the season-long performance given by St Kevin’s Holmesglen U19 Premier star, Michael Di Natale. The young gun produced one of the most dominant years of football imaginable, winning the Holmesglen U19 Premier flag, the T.A. Johnson Medal for best on ground in the grand final AND the C.R. Newbury Medal for the competition best and fairest. Not a bad year from one of the brightest and most exciting talents in the Association.
3. Armstrong ties things up
Old Melburnians forward, Al Armstrong, registered a number of match-winning performances in 2016, including a five-goal haul against Old Xaverians in Round 6. However, it isn’t often the individual moment of the season comes when your side struggles to play out a tie. Well, Armstrong has done just that. Over 33K viewers on Facebook saw the left-footed fan-favourite line up from beyond 50 in horrendous Melbourne conditions and mongrel punt through the awe-inspiring goal to tie things up against Old Trinity. From the unlucky free kick to the best piece of commentary of the season, Armstrong’s moment of brilliance had everything.
2. Williams wins Woodrow no. 2
There is no higher individual playing honour in the VAFA than the Woodrow Medal. Only six players have won the award for the best and fairest player in Premier twice since 1927 and now De La Salle on-baller, Jake Williams, can say he is the seventh member of the elite company. Williams first won the award in 2013 as the second-youngest player ever and spent the ensuing two years in Collingwood’s VFL side before returning to claim the award in his first year back. There is no player quicker to his feet or arguably more agile than Williams and he could quite easily win three or four before he is done. I mean, he just turned 23.
1. Women officially join the men
For the first time in 125 years of VAFA football, women will play in 2017. In the biggest and best bit from this year, the implementation of a women’s competition was announced at a ceremony on August 11 at Sportscover Arena. 20 female players were in attendance that day and since its announcement/selfie, the response from clubs has been unbelievable. 37 clubs have committed to fielding teams in the inaugural year and the VAFA is confident of 40 teams, making it the largest women’s football competition in Australia. The country’s biggest football competition is about to get a whole lot bigger.
See the rest of the countdown here: