Editorial: Excitement builds for the return of the Big V

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One of the most anticipated occasions on the VAFA calendar is the return of Representative Football to Elsternwick Park on Saturday 15th July. For the first time since 2019, the best amateur players will don the famous Big V against a formidable foe in the Perth Football League.

The Senior Women’s game will kick off the day’s events at 11am, with our team aiming to extend their unbeaten run of victories to four.

The Senior Men’s game will follow at 2pm, where the team will be keen to build on the rich history of 140 wins from 172 games, at an impressive winning rate of 81%.

Our opponents, the Perth Football League, are not to be underrated. Formerly the WA Amateurs, they are the only community football competition in Perth, with a similar number of clubs, teams and players as the VAFA. This is the first time our women will face off against WA, the only other contest against an interstate rival being in 2018 when victory was secured over the Adelaide Football League.

The Senior Men’s team last played WA back in 2003, delivering a comprehensive victory when stacked with many ex-AFL players. However, the agreed criteria for players required to have played a minimum of 5 games in the 2023 season, ensures these games will be played by legitimate Amateur representatives, and will no doubt deliver two cracking contests between the two biggest community football competitions in Australia.

We are thrilled to have secured two experienced and successful coaches to lead our teams.

Greg Hutchison takes the reins of the men’s side, bringing a lifetime of knowledge and skills to the role, having coached at the elite AFL and VFL levels, and leading Old Brighton to the William Buck Premier Men’s Grand Final in 2022.

Similarly, our Women’s coach, Paul Groves, is a Big V representative himself from his playing days at St Bede’s/Mentone Tigers, has tasted success at the highest level, having led the Western Bulldogs to the 2018 AFLW Premiership. Both coaches have shown wonderful passion for, and commitment to the role, and there’s no doubt our players will be well prepared for the occasion.

To the players, our great congratulations on your selection in the initial training squads. To be in the squad of 50 players from a player registration base of over 12,000, puts you in the top echelon in the competition.

For those who don’t make the final cut, I hope the experience of being in the training programme is a positive one and drives your ambitions to want to be involved again next year and beyond.

For those 44 players who are selected to wear the Big V this year, I hope you do so with great pride and enjoyment.

Presentation of Big V guernseys will be made at our annual ‘Big V Luncheon’ being held at the RACV Club on Friday 14th July. This will be a special occasion for all our Men’s and Women’s representatives, and I encourage all family, friends, teammates and supporters to book a ticket.

AFL CEO in waiting, and former Big V representative, Andrew Dillon, will be our special guest as we induct Mark Brady (Old Scotch and St Kevin’s Old Boys) and John Griffiths (Caulfield Grammarians) as Big V Champions, and recognise Joe Kelly as a Big V Legend, in recognition of his outstanding coaching record leading the VAFA men’s representative teams. Reunions of players from the ’73, ’83’, ’93, 2003, and 2013 years will be in full force on the day.

This promises to be a wonderful event and I encourage all our VAFA community to book a ticket and experience first-hand, the wonderful celebration of our past and present VAFA representatives.

With a bye round scheduled, we are looking forward to a large crowd attending to support both teams.

Entry is just $10 for adults to cover the game costs, with children U12 free. For those wanting to watch from behind the glass in the comfort of a heated room, an official match day function will run in the Elsternwick Park social room from 12pm to 3pm, with ground entry, all-inclusive drinks and food provided throughout the three hours for just $75.

Bookings and further details can be found at VAFA.com.au

For anyone who can’t get to the game, uninterrupted radio coverage will be provided by RSN Xtra2 from 9:30am – 5:00pm, whilst both games will be live-streamed on the VAFA Website, Facebook and KommunityTV on the Herald Sun website.