Across many football grounds around Melbourne autumn leaves have been falling to cover a pocket, a wing or a players race. One thing the leaves can’t cover is early season form of teams and the nerves that start to creep in about a 0-3 start to the year. With two relegated from every section of the VAFA, clubs have 15 rounds to secure the 6-7 wins to avoid relegation.
Why start with a negative view? In Premier, there is a top of the table clash to look forward to. Undefeated De La Salle to Beaumaris to take on the undefeated surprise packet of the year to date. Beaumaris are the first solely district club to play in Premier since Ormond in 1996 and have surprised many with both the manner of their three wins as well as the calibre of the opposition. A 20 goal win at home over seasoned Premier Club St Bedes/Mentone Tigers in Round 1, a 2 point nail biter against reigning back to back Premier champions Collegians and hard fought but clinical win out at St Bernard’s, one of the tougher away assignments in the section. All eyes will be on Banksia Reserve to see how the Sharks go against last year’s preliminary finalists De La Salle.
The other clash of note in Premier is a more traditional one for the section, and is born out of school day rivalry and longevity of playing one another. Old Scotch and Old Xaverians have been playing against each other for as long as anyone can remember in the VAFA and the Old Scotch home of Camberwell Sports Ground will be full of supporters who will sing the plaudits of the current players whilst simultaneously reminiscing how they played tougher football when they were wearing these famous jumpers.
There are matches of significance elsewhere in the VAFA this weekend; none more so than Caulfield Grammarians and Fitzroy at Glenhuntly. The Grammarians have not sung the song for 21 matches now, dating back to their 2011 Premier B Grand Final Day heroics. The Roys in that famous jumper are without a win since last year’s preliminary final in Premier C. These are the matches that the autumn leaves cannot cover.
Staying in Premier B there is also a top of the table clash to look forward to that has it’s own intrigue. Old Trinity are one of the better sides relegated from Premier of recent years and have started the season in sparkling touch. Winning margins of 98, 64 and 111 have seen the OT’s accumulate a percentage of 333.33% and an air of invincibility about them. They travel to the Gary Smorgon Reserve tot take on the equally impressive AJAX who have strung together their three wins by 93, 50 and 44 points. The intrigue lies with the AJAX coaching panel, their senior coach Leigh McQuillen was an assistant at Old Trinity last year.
One of the great stories of the year to date is the form of Monash Blues in Premier C. They have started the year three wins from three. After finishing 9th in 2012 they should have been relegated but were given a reprieve after Rupertswood decided to leave the competition. Needless to say they have made the most of it and could be 100% after four rounds on Saturday night as they play Oakleigh who are 0-3 and another side looking for a bed of leaves to hide in.
The final highlight to look forward to in round 4 is in Division 4 where Box Hill North (1-2) host Dragons (2-1). The Dragons were born out of the Box Hill North’s Club XVIII side before they went out on their own in the Southern Football Leauge. In 2013 they are back in the VAFA to take on their former big brothers and the clash couldn’t be any bigger for both sides side in the first clash between the clubs.