Are you ready to be entertained?

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Division 3 Men's

Mitch Dyer

Get ready for the most electrifying season of VAFA Division 3 football yet. The stage is set for some thrilling clashes and underdog stories.

Last season, South Melbourne Districts took the crown by storming over Parkside in the Grand Final. Now, they’ve both moved up to division 2, leaving the field wide open for a new champion.

Elsternwick and Canterbury are the two teams to beat this year, both having three representatives in the 2022 team of the year. Both sides will feel like they have unfinished business and a point to prove after reaching September and then finding themselves out of the running before Grand Final day.

Elsternwick’s Matt Harvey, Matt Ball, and Ben Reece were vital cogs in the team’s success last year, while Canterbury’s Nick Szabo, Ryan Murray, and Tom Lowden also had standout seasons.

The Cobras will open the season facing off against Richmond Central Snakes at Kevin Bartlett Reserve, in a battle of the reptiles last year it was Canterbury taking the points in both clashes. Don’t rule out the tenacity of the yellow and black under new coach Zac Jardine.

Jardine joins the Tigers with experience of the competition having done his coaching apprenticeship at Hawthorn AFC.

The red and black Elsternwick footy club are wearing the white shorts against Wattle Park AFC on Saturday twilight footy, this will be the My Sport Live-VAFA Live-Stream match of the round. Can the Wickers keep the momentum rolling from 2022 or will the Animals kickstart their year on the best possible foot?

They’ve got some stiff competition, including the likes of rising universities, La Trobe and Swinburne, as well as Power House, who are coming down from Division 2 after a tough season.

The House is ready to rock in Albert Park, new recruits have joined the green, white and black. Mitch Newman has had a stellar pre-season and committed to the club, he’s proven himself through the practice matches and is ready to stand in the centre square at the opening bounce against Swinburne on Saturday.

Jeremy “shining light” Hill was one of the clubs best players, although beaten by Ben Circosta in the best and fairest count at the club last year, he put together a terrific individual season, and the expectation he places on himself to perform at the highest possible level is second to none.

Stephen Boland is the playmaker and general in the defence. While 2022 was a lean year from the wins and loss perspective, the club is primed to make its 76th season a memorable one.

Opponents Swinburne fell short in last years Division 4 Grand Final, but come up to Division 3 eager on redemption. Three players from the Razorbacks finished inside the competitions team of the year. In a strong show of faith in the club, more than half the senior 22 from 2022 re-committed to the side as the early days of the pre-season got underway. A strong core playing group, led by Declan Watts are keen to make their imprint on Division 3 this year.

One team I’m eager to watch this season is Hawthorn AFC. Led by Charlie Boots, one of the league’s best defenders, they have the potential to rise up the ladder if they can consistently score well.

The Hawks had to grind their way into the 2022 season and will be looking to get off to a much faster start this year. Mark Murray has recommitted as the senior coach and eager to further drive improvement from the disappointment of last season. One game to pencil into your calendar is the clubs annual WINGS match, a front-runner of VAFA clubs in the mental health space.

La Trobe University is the Hawks opening round opponent, coming up as the Division 4 Premiers will give the club plenty of confidence and will be led on field for the third year in a row by Andy Castles, supported by Pat Lindsay as his vice-captain. Ricky Nolan had a stellar debut as coach in 2022 taking the premiership along the way, this year he’ll be looking to push his side up the D3 ladder, and the double promotion in consecutive years.

The 2023 season promises to be full of surprises, twists and turns.

Only time will tell, so make sure you grab your tickets, don your team colours, and get ready for the most thrilling season of VAFA Division 3 football yet.