Division 2’s Northern Blues will be looking to claim their third premiership in as many years when they kick-start their 2015 finals campaign against Old Paradians in the first semi-final at Highgate Reserve this Sunday.
Finishing fourth at the conclusion of the home and away fixture, the Blues will need to defy the odds and defeat all of Ivanhoe, St John’s and Old Paradians to continue their fast-tracked journey up the division sections.
The Blues are still a club in its infancy. Joining the Victorian Amateur Football Association in 2011, they completed a two-year apprenticeship before graduating to the seniors with a Division 4 berth in 2013.
And what a berth it was.
The Blues scraped into the finals of their first season after winning eight of their 16 matches throughout the year. Despite sitting sixth on the ladder heading into the business end, the Blues registered highly impressive wins against Hawthorn AFC and West Brunswick in the first two weeks of the finals, before truly defying the experts and defeating Eley Park Sharks by 34 points to claim the Division 4 premiership.
Using the momentum and confidence attained from a first-year senior premiership, the young and talented Blues list steamrolled through Division 3 with a sense of ease in the ensuing season. Losing just four matches throughout the year, the Blues stood strong in each of their three finals, showcased by a gritty one-point victory against Emmaus St Leos in the preliminary and backed up by a four-goal grand final win against Richmond Central.
Back-to-back premiers and now they find themselves here – three wins away from Division 1.
However, despite their recent run of glory, the Blues will be tested in ways they have not in the past.
The strength of the three sides sitting above them on the ladder is unquestionable. The Hoes have lost just two matches for the season, while the JOC’s and Raiders boast just four and six losses, respectively.
With 12 wins from their 18 matches this season, the Blues hold a 1-1 record against all three teams above them. Their most impressive victory came in Round 4 earlier this season when they held on to defeat a rampaging Ivanhoe outfit by five points at W.R. Ruthven Reserve.
Conversely, the Blues will look to use lessons learnt from the 85-point thumping inflicted upon them by the Hoes in their Round 11 rematch, where the ladder-leaders exercised complete control across all four quarters. If not, the dream of the three-peat may be just that.
If the Blues can embody the mental drive and fortitude used to achieve ultimate glory over the past two years, the three-peat is a possibility. It is a real possibility.