Two out of three ain’t bad for Bloods

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Premier C Men's

Mitch op’t Hoog

In an historic 125th year of the VAFA, Premier C exemplified the VAFA’s emphasis on competitive balance. So much so that the top four wasn’t finalised until the very end of the regular season. In fact, heading into the final two rounds of 2017, teams from third to eighth on the ladder were all in with a chance of playing finals.

While the competition throughout the mid-table was intense, there were two sides which stood out as true contenders all year, Caulfield Grammarians and Old Haileybury. In the end, it was a fair result that these two teams would earn promotion into Premier B and face off for the Premier C flag.

For the Bloods, the grand final appearance put an end to their short-lived venture down into Premier C after demotion from Premier B in 2016. For the Fields, the grand final berth secured promotion after an extended time in Premier C, finishing minor premiers in 2016 but failing to make the grand final.

Leading into the match, it was near impossible to predict. Caulfield had been the best team in Premier C all year, but the Bloods were hitting their straps at the business end of the season.

Despite the Fields’ minor premiership, it was Old Haileybury who capped off their return to Premier C in sensational style, claiming a 48-point victory at Casey Fields. It was the second Premier C flag for Old Haileybury in three years.

Despite winning the second semi-final, you’d have to say Old Haileybury entered the game as underdogs. Yet the Bloods found themsleves up by seven points at quarter time and their lead grew every break thereafter. Their dominance was in large thanks to the Michael Ritterman Medallist, Peter Shakallis, who was unstoppable through the midfield. On the scoreboard, Corey Rich top-scored with three while Nick Gooda kicked two high pressure goals in the second quarter to steady the ship. Eight goals to three in the second half sealed the deal for the Bloods.

While the Fields were minor premiers and entered the finals on a six-game winning streak, they had no answers for the Bloods as they lost both post-regular season match-ups.

The other two teams to make the Premier C finals in 2017 were Williamstown CYMS and Marcellin. The CYs managed to sneak into the four on percentage, just ahead of Old Geelong; while Marcellin were unlucky not to secure a top-two finish, eventually finishing in third but with the same win-loss record as second-placed Old Haileybury.

Outside the top four, the competition was intense with many teams keeping their finals hopes alive until the end of Round 18.

Fifth-placed Old Geelong would’ve been delighted to have pushed for finals after coming up from Division 1 in 2016.  Having said that, they’ll no doubt rue missed opportunities with their inconsistency costing them dearly. Throughout the season, OGs would often win games as the underdogs and let the winnable games slip. In his first year at the club, Jez Nettlefold took out Old Geelong’s Senior Best & Fairest award!

Another Division 1 graduate, Old Mentonians, pushed for a spot in the finals but they too fell just short on percentage, eventually finishing the season in sixth. In an odd season of football, it too was their inconsistency that cost them. The Panthers started the season with a bang, claiming three victories in the first three rounds. However, with injuries and unavailability’s plaguing their list, they failed to recapture their early season form and only managed six more wins for the year.

For Old Camberwell, the season also started promisingly with back-to-back away wins against Marcellin and Old Ivanhoe. At the halfway mark of the season, they were sitting at five wins and four losses, giving themselves every opportunity to secure a finals berth. Unfortunately, in the back half of the season they could only secure three more wins to finish the year in seventh place. Despite missing finals, there were plenty of highlights for the Wellers, including Ben Hart winning the Premier C Zachariah Medal (the club’s first senior men’s competition B&F since Graeme Ewart in 1993).

In eighth place and narrowly avoiding relegation was Old Ivanhoe, who took a step backwards in 2017 after playing finals in 2016. Their season followed the same path as Old Camberwell’s, claiming five wins in the opening half of the season yet only managing three in the back end of the year.

As Caulfield Grammarians and Old Haileybury return to Premier B, we also bid farewell to two relegated teams, Hampton Rovers and Kew. The Rovers, who now suffer relegation in successive seasons, won just six games while the Bears will return to Division 1 on the back of a three-win season.

As four teams leave, we welcome four new competitors to Premier C. St Mary’s Salesian and PEGS will be joining Premier C in 2018 from Division 1 – the Saints for the first time in their club’s history. While Peninsula and Fitzroy will join Premier C from Premier B – Fitzroy relegated by the heart-breakingly slender percentage of just 0.3%.

Premier: Old Haileybury

Michael Ritterman Medallist: Peter Shakallis (Old Haileybury)

L Zachariah Medallist: Ben Hart (Old Camberwell)

Leading Goal Kicker: Declan Reilly (Caulfield) & Nathan Waite (Old Haileybury) – 53

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