7 super early predictions for 7 senior men’s sections in 2018

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Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead

It may be January and still 79 days from Round 1 of VAFA footy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to ponder the season ahead of us.

Starting with the seven senior men’s sections, here are some super early predictions for 2018.

William Buck Premier: Nick’s Woods-row Win

Prior to a Round 4 injury, St Kevin’s OB midfielder, Nick Wood, was sitting pretty on eight votes from his first four games of the season. He had a BOG, a pair of 2’s and a 1 as he excelled through SKOB’s midfield with unrivalled attack on both the sherrin and ball carrier. Unfortunately, he was unable to find the same form as he gradually recovered from injury and failed to poll another vote for the remainder of the year. I’m sure a first-ever A-Grade flag made up for the disappointment on an untimely injury, but expect Wood to claim the club’s maiden Woodrow in 2018.

Premier B: Dornauf’s 70 helps Blacks jump straight back up

Since 2011, only four out of 14 relegated Premier sides have managed to play off in a Premier B grand final and win promotion the following season: Old Trinity (2013), Uni Blues & Old Carey (2014) and Beaumaris (2016). Furthermore, only the Blues and Beauie have re-entered the top tier with a flag. However, University Blacks look set to break the mould as they bounce back from relegation with a Premier B Grand Final appearance (at least) in 2018. Led by reigning Woodrow Medallist, Bede Mahon, and 70 goals from Lochie Dornauf, I’m tipping the Blacks to return whence they came.

Premier C: Mal Mitris takes part ownership in TOTY with 4/4

The utility from Chelsworth Park exudes leadership, unrivalled physical strength and has match-winning abilities at either end of the ground – let’s not forget the after-the-siren goal against Kew in 2016. Such has been his dominance, Mitris has been named in the Premier C Team of the Year for the past three seasons; twice at centre half back. This year, expect no different as new High-Performance Coach, David Buttifant, gets Mal and his teammates to levels of fitness unseen in community football, allowing the skipper to dominate across half back yet again and make it four TOTY appearances in a row.

Division 1: Round 1 hosts grand final preview

Division 1 is set to be a belter in 2018 with most competing clubs capable of putting forth a legitimate argument as a finals contender. Despite this, we will see the grand final preview in Round 1 when Ormond take on Prahran Assumption at E.E. Gunn Reserve. Hampton and Kew will both compete after coming down from Premier C, but the gut-feel says the Monders will bounce back after a disappointing straight sets exit in 2017 while the Two Blues aren’t losing any of their top-tier talent.

Division 2: Unicorns to reverse fortunes

After dropping five of their first six games of the 2017 season, MHSOB won’t find themselves in the same predicament again this year. They went on to claim 10 wins from their final 12 outings as everything began to click and remarkably still finished fourth on the ladder. With a Holmesglen U19 Section 5 grand final appearance under their belt and a string of strong performances at the back end of last year, the Unicorns will win five of their opening six to start the season.

Division 3: From one Warrior to another

Westbourne dominated the polling in the Division 3 Hutchinson Medal count last year with Chris Hudson (22) and Michael Culliver (18) finishing first and third, respectively. With another top four spot on the horizon, the Warriors will claim back-to-back BnF’s and it will be Culliver who goes two better and romps home with 25+ votes.

Division 4: Bullish renaissance

2018 marks the 18th consecutive year North Brunswick have played in Division 4 but it will also mark the end of the VAFA’s longest drought. The Bulls were unlucky to miss a spot in last year’s GF as they were outclassed by Aquinas and Manningham Cobras; however, with just South Melbourne Districts coming down from Division 3, the scene is set for a Bulls renaissance. Don’t be surprised if they find themselves battling it out with the Rams on the back of a strong recruiting spree.

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