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TEN YEARS AFTER: 2002 through the long lens.
Check out two pic galleries from 2002  here

A decade has passed and much has changed since that year which culminated in Peter Nicholson and Ben Jordan (pictured) hoisting the LA Adamson Cup to begin St Bernard’s celebration of its second A Section flag.

Bernies would play in grand finals again in 2003 and 2004, losing to Old Xaverians and Uni Blues. In Round 17 of 2007, coach Nicholson, by then winding down at the winless Old Haileybury, which he had taken to the 2006 flag, led his Bloods to a victory over the Snowdogs and dropped them onto the cellar door. St Bernard’s return to the top tier in 2012 after four seasons in Premier B and as one would expect, with just a handful of players who supped from the cup ten years ago. 
Since the middle of last decade, the VAFA has invited applications for registration from any player, as long as they play as amateurs, receiving no payment. It wasn’t always as simple as that, with many players over the years failing to be registered by the VAFA because of gain previously derived at clubs outside the Amateurs. The pre-season commenced with some new, more liberal, but convoluted guidelines. There were four classifications: for players with and without prior connection to a VAFA club, for players under 25 and for those who hadn’t played AFL, VFL or equivalent levels.  In any case, some 257 players were registered through the reinstatement of amateur status alone.
There were some familiar names coaching in different places in 2002. Mick Dwyer, recently appointed coach at Brindisi Street, was at Old Haileybury. Dean Anderson, now at Old Scotch, coached Caulfield Grammarians. Hampton Rovers’ Russell Barnes coached St Bede’s Mentone Tigers, while the Tiges 2011 coach Owen Lalor was at Old Melburnians, in charge of the U19s. Tim Killworth, now at the Wellers, was at Yarra Valley. Peter McBrearty, now of Richmond Central, coached South Melbourne Districts, while Aquinas gaffer John LeGrand was Mazenod’s U19 mentor. This year’s Mazenod coach Adrian Connolly was in charge of Ormond’s U19s. Erwin Leyden was at Old Melburnians, where he returned, but this year you will find him at St Mary’s Salesian.
Matt Greig of Old Trinity won the goalkicking in A Section, booting seventy-four, while future Snowdog Callan Potter kicked sixty-one for Rupertswood U19
Of the ten clubs competing in A Section in 2002, six will be in Premier in 2012. Of these six, just three – Old Scotch, Old Xaverians and Uni Blues – played each intervening season in the top tier. Marcellin has dropped to Premier C and Melbourne High School Old Boys to Division 1. Old Paradians have dropped from B Section to Div 2.
Werribee Amateurs (now Werribee Districts) finished minor premier in D4, but lost the grand final to Rupertswood. The ‘Bees debut in Premier B in 2012. This rise was the most meteoric of the decade. Other major climbers have been Rupo (D4-Prem C), Old Carey (D2-Premier), Oakleigh (D2 (relegated) – Premier B), AJAXand Uni Blacks (D1 – Premier B), and Caulfield (C Section-Premier). Collegians and St Bede’s Mentone Tigers, Premier grand finalists in 2011, were both in C Section. 
Bernie Dinneen of Marcellin won the Woodrow Medal, his second in as many years. A Section scribe Brad Beitzel steered clear of pre-season predictions, though notes garnered from the clubs proved interesting.
At Marcellin, premiership coach Simon Dalrymple returned and we were told to watch out for a slimmer Dan Treganowan playing midfield. He played at the goalfront and dobbed sixty-five for the year. The Eagles finished fourth. St Kevin’s recruited Damien Ryan (now club president) and Andrew Ukovic and played its home games at Trevor Barker. Under Mike McArthur-Allen, SKOB finished eighth on percentage. Bernies replaced Garry Foulds with the aforementioned Nicholson and won the flag with a season record of 17-2-1. Nick Mitchell was captain, but missed the grand final with injury. Old Xaverians had Tim Ockleshaw return from overseas and recruited Tim Clarke and Travis Ruyg. Tony Delaney was also touted as a star signing, but departed early. Xavs finished second in Tim O’Shaughnessy’s final year as coach. Old Trinity won just seven games under Leigh Carlson after finishing fifth in 2001. Melbourne High’s theme of “aim higher” was unfulfilled as the Unicorns won just twice. Old Scotch appointed Dale Tapping and picked up a number of recruits including Tim Wigney, James Gerstmann  and Rob Josephs. The Cardinals finished third. Mickey Conlan took over from Lee Adamson at Uni Blues, while Andrew Lowcock was added to North Melbourne’s top-up list. Blues finished sixth. Old Ivanhoe lost premiership coach Gerard Sholly in the pre-season due to a work transfer and Paul Fahey was installed. The Hoes picked up John Stevens and Mark Orchard, the former becoming a club stalwart. The Browns won ten games and just missed the finals. Its 2001 GF opponent De La Salle had an ordinary year under Paul Cooper and was relegated after winning six games, albeit with an atrocious percentage.
B Section scribe Damian Carroll installed the Nodders as pre-season favourites, but they finished fourth under Dave Murray. Hampton Rovers arrived from C
Section and won six games under Norm Goss. NOBs brought in Garry Foulds as coach and finished third. Stuey Glascott took over Old Brighton, which had been relegated. The Tonners won eight games and finished sixth. It was Carroll’s 5/1 shot Old Melburnians who took the chocolates, with Toby Roberts (pictured) winning the Cordner Medal for best in the Grand Final against Old Haileybury. The Dark Blues would avoid relegation in 2003 by beating eventual premier Old Xaverians in the final home and away round, but would suffer the drop after a disastrous 2006. Ormond and Therry Penola took that trip after 2002.

Just two of the ten teams that comprised Premier C in 2002 will contest the section this year. They are Banyule and Old Camberwell. Beauy, SBMT, Collegians and Caulfield have moved higher in the pecking order, while Prahran, Old Mentonians, Whitefriars and Glen Eira are playing lower. 
In Premier C in 2002, Whitefriars beat SBMT for the title, while Banyule and Old Mentonians took the drop. Emmaus St Leo’s won the Div 1 flag from Mentone Amateurs, who would merge into Parkdale Vultures. Williamstown CYMS and Old Geelong were relegated. In Division 2, Yarra Valley enjoyed a 17-1 home and away season and then annihilated Salesian in the grand final. Oakleigh and Kew were relegated. West Brunswick won Div 3 from Hawthorn, after St John’s 16-2 record counted for nought with straight sets elimination. Power House and Richmond Central checked out, while in Division 4, Werribee beat
Rupertswood in the decider. Parkside left the VAFA post-season, which meant reprieves for Oakleigh and Power House in their respective sections for 2003.

Umpire of the Year went to Mark Gibson (pictured) for the third year straight, though a Premier Grand Final appointment somehow eluded him.
That was then: this is now. With National Signing Day next week to kick off a frenzy of player movement, the table will be set for a sensational 2012. In just eight months time, it will all be over again and another season in the history books.