With the announcement of the 2023 Division 1 Men’s fixture, VAFA Media is helping you pick out the games you don’t want to miss.
Through the Premier sections, we have picked out the top five games we think will be worth marking down. In Division 1 Men’s, the opening round of fixtures may have the most amount of storylines to look forward to across any section in both men’s and women’s.
Packed into the season’s opening round on Saturday, April 15: A Grand Final rematch. Two relegated sides face off and the VAFA will have a new games record holder!
Old Peninsula vs. Therry Penola
It’s a long trek for Therry Penola. From JP Fawkner Reserve to Peninsula Grammar. The early morning bus ride to start the season, an hour and 21 minutes according to our friends on Google Maps.
It’s not a happy hunting ground for the travelling Lions, they haven’t won at Harry McDonald Oval for a very long time. They’re 50% from round 1 games since 2016.
This will be the third straight season opener where the focus is on Shaun Payze, the Old Peninsula legend.
Payze finished the 2019 season on 399 games, due to the pandemic he was forced to wait until Round 1 of 2021 to reach game 400.
To begin season 2022, in career game 411, Payze took to the field against PEGS with his 18 year old son Bailey making his senior debut for the Pirates.
At the time of writing, we understand that Payze will go around again in 2023. When he runs out on Saturday, April 15 – He will become the VAFA games record holder. He is currently equal with Peter Brabender of Old Parade on 428 games.
The neighbouring team to Therry Penola, PEGS have spoiled the party on both of those days. This time around, maybe the Pirates can deliver the treasure chest of glory to Payze.
Ivanhoe AFC vs. West Brunswick
The next chapter in the battle of the two teams in black and white. Our Division 2 Grand Final rematch. We don’t have to wait long at all for the return fixture.
The Hoers had the better of West Brunswick throughout 2022, and were pushed right to the last minutes of the Grand Final before taking the Premiership off the Magpies. Wayne Schultz, the best player on the ground will debut as coach in this match, his great mate Ash Close is “just” the club’s power forward.
The Hoers get the opportunity to unfurl their Premiership flag in a proposed 6:35pm timeslot to open the season. The first flag to head to Ivanhoe Park since 1969. West Brunswick will be intent on spoiling the party.
Glen Eira vs. Kew FC
Both the Gryphons and Kew were the unlucky losers during the 2022 Division 1 finals series. Glen Eira, after rising from Division 2 in 2021 finished the home and away season in third. Kew, earned themselves a double chance.
Old Camberwell, the surprise packet this season ended the season of both sides. The Gryphons in the semi-final. The Bears in the preliminary final.
While both sides will be burning through this off-season, and probably having nightmares about getting so close yet so far. They square off to open the 2023 season as the #1 and #2 seeds. That alone is exciting enough, but on head-to-head form in 2022, the points were shared. In Round 9, it was Kew beating Glen Eira by two points. In Round 15 at Packer Park, the Gryphons returned serve winning by two points.
Oakleigh vs. Prahran FC
An off-season name change for Prahran FC. They’ve dropped the Assumption from the name. And, in 2023 will play home games at Lucas Reserve with the redevelopment of Toorak Park.
They’re heading to WA Scammell Reserve against the Krushers to open their 2023 campaign. These sides finished fifth (Oakleigh) and sixth (Prahran) in 2022. Both with 10 wins next to their name, they’ll be competing for the same spots in 2023, behind Kew and Glen Eira.
They have a knack of playing in close games, with three of their past six meetings decided by three points or less. The Krushers venue will be on edge should it be close nearing siren time in the season opener.
Preston Bullants vs. UHS-VU
The Bullants and the boys from Victoria University were the relegated teams from Premier C in 2022. Seasons they’d much rather forget.
The Bullants won their opening game this year, but fell away to lose the remaining 19 games. They’ll be desperate to have that unwanted streak eliminated come the season opener against the lads of Brens Oval.
For the boys of Brens, they’ve had celebrated success in the Divisional sections. 2017 Division 3 Premiers, 2018 Division 2 Premiers, 2019 Division 1 runners up, to the Bullants. A game etched in the memory for fans of the red and the white.
Brens Oval was a fortress in that period of time. 20 wins, five losses. They’ll be aiming for it to become that again.
Preston are no slouches in the Divisions themselves, former coach George Wakim had them climb the sections through 2013 – 2019 with four Premierships.
Six Premierships on show in this season opener. A ding-dong battle awaits.