As Victoria grapples with Lockdown 6 and the VAFA season is momentarily paused, let’s look back at six of our favourite stories & highlights from 2021 (so far) – one for each Locky D.
6) Payze & Fraze reach monster milestones
It was certainly a long time coming but in Round 1, Old Peninsula FC great, Shaun Payze, became just the second player in VAFA history to notch 400 senior games when he ran out against PEGS. Stranded on 399 at the end of the 2019 season, the 41-year-old Pirate went agonisingly close to reaching the milestone if not for an after-the-siren goal from UHS-VU in the Division 1 preliminary final. Thankfully, Payze decided to continue his career and added another significant milestone to his CV after kicking his 1000th goal two years ago. Just a few weeks later but quite a few km’s down the road, PEGS stalwart Andrew Frazer became the club’s all-time games record holder when he surpassed Lindsay Shaw on 322 games. From running water for his dad in the 90’s to helping the club win its first senior flag in over 20 years in 2017, Fraze is a part of the fabric at PEGS.
5) VAFA players take on the AFL
It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only February when former Old Trinity and Big V star, Anthony Scott, earnt a permanent rookie spot on the Western Bulldogs’ AFL list. Scotty, who joined the VAFA radio boys on the Friday Warm-Up (below) and spoke about his journey, has since played 19 games for the Dogs this season and kicked nine goals. Not to mention being a cash cow for a lot of Supercoach pundits out there. Throughout the year, Old Ivanhoe ruckman, Alex Mirkov, realised his AFL dream when he was selected by Carlton in the mid-season draft, while 2019 William Buck Premier B&F winner and Big V star, Imogen Barnett, was picked up by Collingwood in the recent AFLW Draft.
4) Numbers don’t lie for dedicate VAFA Umpires
The VAFA community put their hands together in celebration of some umpiring immortals throughout the season, with Anthony Simpson & Brendan Corcoran officiating their 550th games in Round 12. Unbelievably, just two weeks later, David Hindle became the third umpire this year to bring up game 550 after he started his career in 1969! Now we have it on very good authority there’s a 900th coming up when footy returns but more on that soon.
3) VAFA clubs raise $26K for PLAY4BCNA Round
VAFA clubs showcased their support for Breast Cancer Awareness and raised a phenomenal $26K in the Round 5 PLAY4BCNA Weekend. The final tally was the highest of all participating leagues and associations and blew away the VAFA’s initial collective fundraising target of $10,000. From a club perspective, Canterbury raised a competition high $5268, followed by Old Brighton ($2343), Hampton Rovers ($2228), Old Ivanhoe ($1942), Richmond Central ($1710) and Prahran Assumption ($1606).
2) Toohey’s New Fitzroy Hero
One man, one goal, and one almighty celebration….
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1) Banga returns after battle with leukaemia
Few stories made us feel quite like Banga’s when he returned to Shark Park after a four-year battle with leukaemia. Lachie ‘Banga’ Francis, the son of Mark (Thirds Coach) and Tracey (Club Secretary), received his cancer diagnosis when he was just 15yo and, after four years of treatment, was given the all-clear in 2020. Once he got medical clearance this year, Banga returned for the Sharks, under the coaching of his old man, in an amazing comeback game against Old Trinity under lights at Banksia Reserve.