When it comes around, don’t let the Big V down!

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Rep Footy

Joe Pignataro

The return of the Big V in 2023 is going to be one of many moments this year that has me excited! 

With confirmation this week that the VAFA will be taking on the Perth Football League in both the Men’s and Women’s on Saturday, July 15 it’s a day in the calendar that is not to be missed.

Representative footy in the VAFA dates back to 1925. On the Men’s side of things, the Big V has been worn 172 times. In that time, the VAFA has won 141 matches. Each game, the jumper was worn with great verve and pride. 

For the VAFA Women’s Competition, the Big V has been proudly adorned on three occasions with the VAFA undefeated in those matches. The most recent match in 2019 saw the girls dismantle AFL Goldfields keeping them scoreless and walking away winners by 151 points. 

It was a pure football exhibition from the Women’s team the last time they took to the field under then coach, Tom Stafford. For current SKOB Premiership captain Sarah Cameron it was her third outing in the navy blue and white. 

2019 was also the most recent outing for the Big V Men’s team which saw the late Danny Frawley inspire his AFL Vic Country troops to a come-from-behind win at three quarter time to upset the VAFA at Ikon Park.  

The team, led by Josh Freezer has been sitting on that loss for the best part of three years. 

1,493 days between that loss, and a chance to get the Big V back on the winners list when the ball is bounced in July.

The day prior to the match will see the next edition of the Big V Luncheon at the RACV Club. What an opportunity it will be for the 24 VAFA women and 22 VAFA men selected to receive their Big V guernsey’s in front of Big V Champions and Legends of the past. 

They will receive the same message of motivation on that day that teams prior have received from coaches like Simon Lethlean, Stu Powell, and Russell Barnes “Enjoy this, don’t let the Big V down. You don’t have reunions when you lose…”

It’s been 20 years since the VAFA has faced the Perth Football League in the senior mens. A day that saw the Big V win by a record margin of 173 points. Keeping the WAAFL to three behinds for the day. 

It was reminiscent of a day where the late, and great Ted Whitten would have muttered those famous words “we stuck it right up em.” However, this year, expect a much closer contest in the double header that will ensue. 

My first experience broadcasting in the VAFA was the 2018 Premier B-D4 representative match against Perth’s finest under 23 stars at Trevor Barker Oval. Sitting alongside Nick Armistead who rode every bump, kick, mark and handball to the end. You could have sworn he was the Big V’s 23rd man by the end of the contest as he watched the four VAFA representative sides that year create history by winning all four matches. (Senior Men, Prem B-D4, Senior Women and Under 19’s). 

Prior to 2018, I was very fortunate to receive a Big V jumper for the under 18 tour to New Zealand in 2010. My proudest moment in footy. Thoughts, feelings and sentiments that are echoed throughout the competition, by the more than a thousand men who’ve played before me and the 60+ women who’ve represented the VAFA. 

The Big V team has gone far and wide in recent years – Tours to Ireland, back to back invitational games to New Zealand (even if it was in a clash version of the Big V), a trip to Adelaide, the long drive to Ballarat and the Women’s record dominance at Elsternwick Park. 

Wherever the Big V play, the navy blue and white has a tendency to draw a big crowd.

Apart from a couple of tribute matches, the AFL disbanded from State League Footy in 1999. The VFL haven’t held a state of origin match for some time, leaving our competition as the place to get your representative footy fix. 

Over the years on For the Love of the Game podcast – George Burbury, Mitch Brown, Josh Green, Cam O’Shea have enlightened us with their pride in wearing the Big V. All holding the same sentiment: the jumper holds the same weight, if not more, as making their AFL debuts. 

For Tom Paule, Brendan Iezzi, Billy Kanakis, and Josh Freezer – The Big V is arguably their most cherished accomplishments in their football careers. It is truly an opportunity to be cherished. 

While all players will say individual honours are not what they play the game for, you can rest assured the announcement from VAFAHQ earlier this week that the Big V is back. The opening half of the season will be played with even more zest than usual. 

See you at Elsternwick Park on Saturday July 15!

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