Premier C preview: The long wait is over

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Mitch op’t Hoog – Premier C Scribe

The autumn leaves are falling, the long nights are growing shorter and the smell of footy is in the air once again. Season 2017 is here! Before we sink our teeth into the season ahead, let’s take a quick look back at 2016 and the year that was.

Caulfield Grammarians had a heartbreaking finals campaign which saw them go out in straight sets after finishing top of the ladder at the end of the regular season. Caulfield’s fall from grace gave third placed Peninsula OB a shot at the title against Mazenod. Despite Mazenod’s ascendancy throughout the year, it was Peninsula who got off to a flyer, holding their opponents goalless in the first term. Despite their slow start, the week off paid dividends for Mazenod who ran out the grand final in style to finish the game with a 34-point premiership victory. We wish both Mazenod and Peninsula all the best in Premier B this season.

At the other end of the ladder, it was Ormond and Oakleigh who struggled throughout 2016 in Premier C and will find themselves competing in Division 1 in 2017. Ormond’s time in the premier grades was short-lived, lasting only one season, but Oakleigh’s descent into Division 1 ends a 10-year run in the premier grades. With some strong recruiting from both teams over the summer break, we hope to see them back up in Premier C soon.

Now onto season 2017, and with some old faces gone, we see some fresh clubs joining our ranks. After successful campaigns in Division 1 last year, Old Geelong and Old Mentonians will join the premier divisions. It was Old Geelong who took home the silverware in a spirited grand final last year, defeating Old Mentonians by eight points. Dropping down to join Premier C from Premier B is Hampton Rovers and Old Haileybury, who’ll look to improve their stock and get back on the winners list after a disappointing 2016.

Round 1 in Premier C presents us with some enticing match-ups including Caulfield Grammarians coming up against Old Ivanhoe, which is sure to be a competitive battle as both teams finished in the top four last season. Old Ivanhoe finished fourth with ten wins and seven losses and went down to Peninsula in the semi final. While they’ve lost a few key players in Chris Johnson and Will Murphy, Old Ivanhoe have had a solid off-season of recruiting and have bolstered their stock with plenty of young players signing-on in 2017. Their opponents, Caulfield, will be looking to start the year off with strong win to bounce back from a disheartening finals campaign. A raft of off-season recruits, a solid pre-season under their belt and a taste for redemption, Caulfield are likely favourites for the Premier C flag in 2017. I’m tipping Caulfield to win by five goals in a hard-fought match between two sides who will both be looking for success at the pointy end of the season.

Another exciting fixture for round one is the 2016 Division 1 Grand Final rematch between Old Geelong and Old Mentonians. With former St Bedes/Mentone Tigers assistant, Steve D’Andrea, on board in 2017 as new coach, the Panthers will look to endorse some Luke Beveridge tactics in 2017 and play some fast, attacking footy. Old Geelong have also had a strong recruitment campaign in the off season signing up a number new names, and retaining ex-AFL player, George Burbury. They’ve also appointed Nick Bourke as their head coach, who knows exactly what it takes to achieve success, having previously coached Xavs to three flags. You can expect Mentonians to come out hard with a taste for revenge, but I’m tipping Old Geelong to hold off an early onslaught and get the win in round one. This should be a corker of a match!

Old Camberwell had an admirable 2016 after battling against relegation in 2015. They managed to end the year with seven wins and eleven losses which placed them 6th on the ladder at the end of the regular season. They’ll look to improve on their performance from last year and with the retainment of key players, such as Nick Latsas and the Bennett brothers, they should be pushing for finals in 2017. In round one, they’ll come up against Marcellin who finished 8th last year, narrowly avoiding relegation with six wins. This showdown should prove to be a battle of the midfields and a great test to see how much each team has developed in the off season. I’m tipping Old Camberwell to win by two points in a nailbiter.

After winning a premiership in 2014 and then again 2015, Kew will be disappointed they weren’t able to continue their winning streak in 2016. In saying that, Kew had a respectable season in 2016, finishing fifth, narrowly missing out on finals. With a few key signings in the off season, including former Adelaide Footy League player and our Division 1 Scribe, Brinley Duggan, Kew will look to push for the top four this year and continue their recent trend of scaling divisions. In round one, Kew will come up against the relegated Hampton Rovers, who’ll be looking to turn their luck around in 2017. While they’ve had a massive amount of signings during the off-season, at both junior and senior level, they’ve lost a key player in Richard Atkins, who was named in their best 10 times last year. Kew should run out the game victorious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hampton produced an upset. I’m tipping Kew by three goals to open their account in 2017.

The other recently relegated team, Old Haileybury, will take on Williamstown CYMS in round one, which will be a great test for both sides. Williamstown finished seventh last year, with seven wins to their name and during the off-season has managed to maintain a majority of their best 22 and should push for finals. Old Haileybury will look to employ youth from their 2016 under 19 premiership side to beef up their team list. Under 19 competition best-and-fairest winner, Jack Munro, and runner-up, Brodie Steele, will be welcome inclusions into the seniors team. Should Old Haileybury maintain and develop their young list over the coming years, I’d expect their return to Premier B to come soon. I’m tipping the home team, Williamstown, to win in a tight match.

Top four:

  1. Caulfield Grammarians
  2. Old Geelong
  3. Old Ivanhoe
  4. Old Haileybury

Premiers: Caulfield Grammarians

Goal Kicker: Thomas Kanz (Old Camberwell)

L Zachariah Medallist: Will Barker (Caulfield Grammarians)