The excitement is building towards Saturday July 15 where the Big V will face off against the Perth Football League.
The VAFA has been counting down to the return of representative footy since 2019. On that particular outing, the senior men’s side went down to AFL Vic Country, coached by the late Danny Frawley to an upset win at Ikon Park.
This year, the Western Australians will cross the Nullabor to Elsternwick Park before the return trip to WA comes in 2024.
Former Old Brighton coach Greg Hutchison will coach the senior men’s team. Taking over the reins from Stu Powell who had made the role his own from 2016-2019. Just over 30 years ago, the position belonged to legendary VAFA coach, Mike McArthur-Allen.
Speaking on the VAFA Legends podcast, McArthur-Allen holds fond memories of his time in charge of the Big V, and played on the emotion of his players wearing the most recognisable jumper in Australian sport.
“You’re hoping you can make them (the players) believe in the state that they belong to” McArthur-Allen recalled when asked about his pride in leading the Big V.
“The Big V is pretty damn important!”
“I remember being at the Adelaide Oval (in 1990) in the changerooms and saying look at the guy across from you, he’s wearing the symbol that all footballers in Australia would love to wear, it’s called the Big V.”
In McArthur-Allen’s tenure in charge of the Big V, he would lead the VAFA to wins over South Australia in 1989 at Elsternwick Park, and 1990 at the Adelaide Oval as well as the opening game against Tasmania in the 1991 Carnival, held in Perth.
Game #2 and #3 of the ‘91 Carnival are memories McArthur-Allen can recall, but not with the same fondness he holds the first three matches in.
“Unbeknownst to us, the coach of the West Australian side was an ex-Victorian who’d been over here week on week, checking out the players ability from A-Grade because he realised most of the state side would come from there” he recapped.
“We beat Tasmania… I wouldn’t have come home if we hadn’t beaten Tassie. South Australia got us in the last four or five minutes by 10 points (in game #2)”
“And then we had to play Western Australia on the last day of the Carnival, on a day that every conceivable weather pattern descended on Subiaco oval – Thunder, lightning, rain, hot sun and they had a player they hadn’t played all week…
“He was just a ripper, should’ve been playing for the Eagles and they ripped us apart”
Mike McArthur-Allen Big V Coaching Record
|1991||WAAFL||Claremont||6.11.47||18.18.126||79 – Loss|
|1991||SAAFL||Subiaco||11.17.83||14.9.93||10 – Loss|
|1991||Tasmania||Subiaco||23.20.158||5.9.39||109 – Win|
|1990||SAAFL||Adel Oval||18.15.123||11.11.77||46 – Win|
|1989||SAAFL||Elsternwick||22.16.148||13.10.88||60 – Win|
The loss handed Western Australia their first ever Carnival win. The VAFA would come home to Melbourne with one win, and two losses. To make matters worse for McArthur-Allen, it remains the biggest losing margin the Big V has experienced from 172 matches (79 points).
Despite the result, McArthur-Allen regards the Big V program one of his proudest achievements, and honours giving him the opportunity to mentor and work with the players and coaches he would spend most Saturday’s battling it out against whilst being the dominant coach at Ormond through that period.
“The relationship I made with other players from other clubs during coaching the representative side was a wonderful bi-product out of coaching those sides”
“I just found some really great people existed in football”
“I knew that all along but when you’re dealing with them in a coach and player situation you get to know them pretty well and they’ve become long-term friends”
The senior men’s Big V representative side will face off against the Perth Football League for the first time since 2002, a day that remains a positive record. Keeping them goalless, and a record-winning margin of 173 points.