Parkdale Vultures (9-0)
After finishing in fourth spot in 2019, the Vultures showcased vast improvement when VAFA footy returned and were clear standouts as they went through the season undefeated. The ‘what if?’ query applies to the Vultures more than any other side given they had earnt a spot in this year’s grand final with a dominant 33-point win over Albert Park in the second semi-final before COVID forced a premature end to the season. Statistically, they were in a league of their own averaging 56ppg and just 10.3 against. They kicked more than 50 points seven times and never gave up more than 22. The trio of Sienna Symons, Jess Welford and Jamie-Lee Munn starred through the midfield, with Symons finishing equal-fourth in the D4W B&F with 11 votes. Despite only playing nine games between them, Paris Davey (4) and Zoe Titmus (5) led the charge with 10 goals each.
Albert Park (6-3-1)
On the topic of improvement from one season to the next, Albert Park was a different team in 2021. After winning just one game in Division 4 in 2019, the Falcons finished second after the home and away season with six wins and a tie from their 10 games. Most notably, coach Lucas Gneil had the Falcons scoring significantly higher with 44.2ppg as opposed to the 12ppg they averaged in 2019. Johannah Griffin was a class above in the midfield and finished the season as a co-winner of the Division 4 Best & Fairest Award with 18 votes two years after coming runner-up. Further to her midfield dominance, Griffin hit the scoreboard in all but two games and came second in the Division 4 goal kicking with 17. Anna Townshend and Claudia Bowers were also standouts through the midfield, while Caroline Pullen and Hannah Buur (11 goals) provided stability at each end.
De La Salle (5-3-1)
Like the Vultures and Falcons, the Guns significantly improved this season and claimed five wins and a tie (vs AP) en route to a final’s appearance. While they went down to MCC by five points in the elimination final, the Guns were an offensive juggernaut when they got going throughout the season, posting scores of 89 (EAFC), 86 (ESL) and another three of 49 or more. In fact, they ranked second for points scored with 44.3ppg. Sally Fyfield, Ilena Gentile and Rachael McDonough polled 23 votes between them, with Fyfield finishing third overall on 12. Unsurprisingly, the Guns trio were also named in the best players a combined 23 times. They were the only Division 4 team to have three players kick 11 goals or more – Bridie McConville (13), McDonough (13), and Gentile (11).
MCC FC (5-4)
2021 could not have started in a more positive fashion for MCC, with the appointment of co-coaches Rebecca Ticli and former Melbourne FC high-flyer, Russell Robertson. The dream duo had the Demons women playing a consistent brand of football that led to an elimination final win over De La and a would-be prelim against the Falcons. A third-place finish was consistent with their numbers from the home and away season as the ranked fourth for points scored (39.2) and third for points against (29.7). In fact, with Aish Ravi (11), Alexandra Clayton (11) and Estelle Ashkar (10) each finishing the season with double digit goals, MCC only kicked less than 20 points twice throughout the year – both against the Vultures. Ellecia Baker and Paige Stein exuded consistency and were named in the best nine times each, with Baker polling a team-high 11 votes and finishing equal fourth in the section B&F count. Despite only playing six games due to VFLW commitments, Anna Harris was a standout with 10 votes.
The Red Devils were one of two teams to debut in 2021 (alongside Elsternwick) and senior coach Anthony Romano would no doubt consider five wins and fifth spot on the ladder as a significant win. It was a tale of two halves for Parkside who, after defeating the Wickers by two goals in Round 1, lost five of their next six games – four of which they kicked two goals or less. Led by the incredible performance of captain and co-winner of the D4W B&F, Emily Rayment, Jo Limmer and Kirby Mackie, Parkside turned their form around on the run home and claimed three consecutive wins by an average of 30 points. Despite having the third lowest percentage in the competition, the Red Devils were less than a game outside the top four, giving plenty of hope to a finals run in 2022.
Swinburne University (3-6)
After coming down from Division 3 before the start of the season, the Razorbacks didn’t have much more luck as they managed three wins and finished in sixth spot on the ladder. They were tasked with the eventual top three sides in the first three rounds but claimed their most impressive win of the year when they defeated De La Salle by one point in Round 2. Swinburne’s Achilles heel was their inconsistency on the scoreboard, kicking two goals or less in five of their nine games. It was a stark contrast in their other four games with scores of 50, 31, 26 and 84. Hayley Wurfel played a lone hand up forward, with a seven-goal haul in the second-last round giving her the leading goal kicker title. She kicked 19 of the team’s 34 goals for the season and polled seven votes. Jessica Coleman and Leanne McHenry were outstanding and named in the best eight times each.
Emmaus St Leo’s (1-9)
After suffering four significant losses from their first five games in Division 3, Emmaus were re-graded ahead of Round 6 with the hope of finding a more competitive section. Unfortunately, the tide never fully turned for the Animals as they registered just one win and averaged 17.2ppg. That one victory was a certain highlight, however, defeating Parkside by seven points with a season-high score of 6.6 (42). Victoria Holt and Molly Tancred led from the front as both players were named in the best eight times, while Bridget Crowe polled a team-high four votes.
It was a promising start to the season for one of the VAFA’s newest teams with a two-goal Round 1 loss to Parkside. As history would show us, that game would be the only time the Wicks managed two goals in a match as they struggled to get their debut season going. Despite going winless, the Wicks laid the foundation for success with 38 players used throughout their nine games. Olivia Powell (6 TIB) and Ashleigh Bransden (5 TIB) were on-field standouts.
Division 4 Women’s Best & Fairest Leader Board
|Emily||Rayment||Parkside Football Club||18|
|Sally||Fyfield||De La Salle||12|
|Ellecia||Baker||Melbourne Cricket Club Football Club||11|
|Anna-Lisa||Harris||Melbourne Cricket Club Football Club||10|
|Ilena||Gentile||De La Salle||6|
|Kirby||Mackie||Parkside Football Club||6|