See who’s joining the VAFA’s Top-Flight in 2023

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As we move into the first month of Autumn, the pre-season is coming to its crescendo and practice matches are ramping up ahead of Round 1 on Saturday, April 15. 

VAFA Media updates you on the VAFA Transfers List for William Buck Premier Men’s.

The reigning Premiers haven’t had too much change to the team that claimed its third William Buck Premier title from the past four completed seasons. Sam Barnett has moved out of T H King, but returning to the fold are the Wallis brothers. 

After 162 games with the Western Bulldogs, Mitch Wallis comes home to the King in 2023 linking up with his younger brother Josh. Josh Wallis claimed the 2019 VAFA MVP award before moving to playing his footy in the sunshine state. 

Opening up the season, they’ll be facing off against the 2022 Premier B Premiers before unveiling the flag in round 2 against Caulfield. It’s going to be hard to see who will take the mantle off the best team of the modern era in 2023. 

What we thought would be the biggest change to the Tonners in the off-season has almost been forgotten amongst the list of changes to the line-up from Brighton Beach Oval. 

Greg Hutchison stood down after last year’s Grand Final appearance, replaced by Dan Donati the master coach of local football. Everything Donati touches turns to gold and the Tonners couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the troops in 2023. Shane Young has ended his tenure as the club President, replacing him is Hutch’s former assistant coach Tom Clarke. 

On the field, perhaps the biggest off-season shock is the transfer request of Anthony Zimmerman. Arguably the most exciting player in William Buck Premier is off to the Southern Football League. Aidan Johnson is off to the WRFL while Max Kennedy has been linked to the VFL.

Last year the possession accumulator was on Collingwood’s VFL list, this year, he’s under Old Trinity’s former coach at Coburg, Jamie Cassidy-McNamara. 

The midfield will still be led by Harry Hill, and Tom Fisher. The welcome return of the clubs number one ruckman Lochie Filipovic after missing almost all of last year, he will join Felix Flockhart, and Andrew Doyle as ruck options. 

The purple army’s 2022 season took the most amazing turn after round 8. From embarrassment they turned their fortunes around to win the final 10 games of the home and away season to finish the year with the double chance. 

A loss to St Kevin’s in the second-semi final became carnage for the Lions with significant injuries on Luke McCleary, and Kenny Ong. The freight train of momentum was further halted by Old Brighton in the Preliminary Final and the season came to its abrupt end for Collegians. 

The high-flying Scott Beilby has headed to South Australia, he spent time playing with Sandringham as well as at Harry Trott last year. Club stalwart Hugh Johnson is off to ply his trade in the Eastern Football League. 

Alex Lukic is the new man of the forward line at Collegians. Teaming up with Dave Mirra and Ed Greene. Lukic comes across from Old Scotch so lock in for the ultimate grudge match in Round 2 when both sides meet for their annual Anzac Day match. 

Jared Rivers gets another pre-season with this group, what they achieved last year was sensational. And, they’ll be hoping to harness that momentum again in the early part of 2023. 

The red and black mafia will be NOMADS in 2023. The redevelopment of Toorak Park sees them playing games at Xavier College and the rest are TBC. 

It will be a challenge of a different side for the team that has an aura about that. Opposition clubs find something more when they face off against the dominant side of Premier. This year, they won’t have to stop Xavier Richards or Joey Atyon-Delaney

Ben Silvagni played a solitary game in the seniors last year, he too will be elsewhere in 2023. 

The official welcome return of Billy Gowers from the VFL. He got a taste of it once last year and now he’s back permanently. Brother of GWS Giant Tom Green, Josh has also come down to Victoria to play footy and Wade Brusnahan joins the club from Old Carey. 

The first two rounds of the year will be played at the college, the best possible start for James Byrne will be two wins to open the year. 

The OM’s finished the year in disappointing fashion. After spending much of the year in the top four, they fell out in the final round and missed out on being part of September. 

Paul Satterley has had the off-season to take learnings away from the last month of the home and away season, and set about implementing strategies to overcome it through the summer. 

Retirements of club legend Tom Paule, centre half back Oscar Hosking and legendary ruckman Nick De Steiger leave big holes to fill. 

The recruitment of Ben Harding from WA is significant, Harry Prendegast from Old Carey, Jacob Thompson from the EDFL and perhaps the biggest of signings for the club – Dylan Clarke, the former Bomber. 

The matchwinner Sam Dunell who has spent more time in the VFL than in the OM’s jumper is also on the move along with Nathan Drummond, who didn’t get too much luck with his body throughout his time at Elsternwick Park. 

Three of the clubs first four games are at the home of VAFA footy, they’ll need to be fast starters within games this year to save themselves the additional effort of chasing comebacks like they did throughout 2022 at different times. 

Last year on the VAFA Podcast, Brian Waldron had the Cardinals as a team building in the right direction. The window of opportunity is about to open for the lads at Camberwell Sports Park. 

Mark Gnatt extended his stay as the club’s senior coach. The loss of Alex Lukic to rival club Collegians is a dent. As is the toughness of Lachie Byrne-Jones. Jack Lipscombe too is on the move. 

Jordan Clarke, previously on the Cardinals list has returned to the club and another on the move from Old Carey, Samuel Grant has joined Gnatty and the troops. 

Old Scotch produced some brilliant finishes in 2022, showing plenty of dash and flair as well as the mental fortitude not usually associated with young groups. The expectations they’d fall away in games as the season went on never happened. After another pre-season you’d expect that assumption to have dissipated further. 

It’s an off-season of change for Guy Martyn and the first of two teams from Melbourne University in William Buck Premier. 

Out: President Tim Rourke, followed by the retirements of Joey Macula, Paddy Hayes, Keiran Harper, Ben CapraJames Carr has relocated and won’t be playing in 2023. 

Following out the door, both Dan and Tom Batarilo. Goalsneak Tom Quinn heads to the country, Jamieson Bouffler, Fraser Elliot and Alex Ingleton are all on the move. 

Coming back the other way are Nick Conway and Darcy Crucitti, both from AFL Barwon. From, Old Geelong Ben Townson

The biggest two names highlighted on the transfer list – “the chest from the west” Dane Crognale. He was one of the first picks at Caulfield in the midfield in 2021 and 2022. This year he’ll be going up against his old side in Round 7. 

Tom Cutler, will rejoin his old Bombers teammate in Marty Gleeson at the club. The two will combine to be a strong force alongside Ayce Cordy who might be pulling on the boots for one last Michael Jordan style dance in 2023. 

If you think the Uni Blues have copped a hammering with list-changes. The Fields have been the hardest hit over the off-season. 

Guy McKenna joins the club as coach, replacing Simon ‘Punchy’ Williams. 

Declain Rielly and Keegan Stewart have both retired. Captain Will Edwards has moved interstate for work commitments. 

Playing their footy elsewhere in 2023 will be Isaac Morrisby, Jared Risol, Georgio Varigiannis Will Barker, Angus Cameron, Chris Diggle, Sam Dorevitch, Lachie Harris, Lachie Stephens, Jack Wallace, Ingo Dammersmith.

All of these players have spent significant time playing in the senior side since the Fields came back up to William Buck Premier in 2021. 

The commitment from Matt Buntine to play with the Fields full-time in 2023 is significant, while Tom O’Sullivan, the VFL legend from Port Melbourne returns home after a stellar career with the Borough. Caulfield have got plenty of work ahead of them. In 2021, we saw the best of them winning seven games on the trot. In 2022, there were glimpses of their best. 2023 needs to be more consistent and turn Glen Huntly Oval back into the Fields fortress. 

The 2022 Premier B Premiers come up to the VAFA’s top flight for the first time since 2011. 

We’re following closely the transfer of former Saint, Sam Gilbert. Who at this stage has been denied according to transfers list, despite him seemingly agreeing to terms to leave Bonbeach and play for Haileybury this season. 

The Seccull boys have recommitted but they have lost Jack Lonie who’s stellar preliminary final performance led Old Haileybury into last year’s Grand Final. Kye Turner was the dream story of the off-season, being recruited by Melbourne on the final days of the pre-season supplemental selection period. 

Also joining the side to play under Daniel Ward from Ballarat is Liam Wood. The goal of Old Haileybury this year will be to stabliise in William Buck Premier, and be competitive throughout the year. 

One of the highest profile recruits to join William Buck Premier is former Melbourne and Carlton defender Oscar McDonald. After 86 games at the top level, he joins Dale Bower and the University Blacks. 

Blacks also welcome Jason Raz from Adelaide, and Robert Caruso from Richmond Centrals. The club has bid farewell to Harry Lahy, Fergus Pinnuck and former bomber Matthew Dea

There’s excitement about the Uni Blacks, for many years there’s been much discussion about their ability to match it with the best. They are proven performers in the competition, and we all have one eye on round 2 when they come up against their most fierce rivals University Blues. 

The next chapter in the battle, for the first time since 2017.