We take a look at the last third of the year for all 75 VAFA Clubs to give you a guide of what to expect in the final weeks of the season. Here is the analysis of Division 4.
Hawthorn have been the benchmark for two years in this section. A calamitous crash out of the finals last year will not be too far from the Hawks memory – other sides will be ready to pounce should they repeat their form of last September.
The Hawks are an even better side this year than they were last year. Their Clubbies side the Spartans brushed a couple of Grand Final heartaches aside last year to claim the title, all things being equal the Hawks should snare a deserved flag this year.
What they need? A constant reminder that it can all go wrong if you don’t bring 100% in finals. Or possibly a loss before September?
Finals or bust? Finals are locked in, only question remains is will it be a footy trip full of smiles or finger pointing?
Were like the Hawks and Eley Park, one of the best sides last year and they too have improved this year. Only problem is they have a rampant Hawthorn in front of them. Are they the Hay List to to Hawthorn’s Black Caviar?
What they need? A chat with Steve Waugh about mental disintergration to apply to the Hawks in September.
Finals or bust? The Magpies will be at the pointy end, but whether they crack the Hawthorn code is another question.
What a story it would be if the Cobras could join from the EFL where they had a winless season and win a VAFA flag? In all likelihood that won’t happen, but the club is smiling again and will also play finals for the first time in a number of years.
What they need? To play finals on a ground like their own. It’s one of the smallest in the comp, but a neutral finals venue much bigger could catch the Cobras out.
It has been a mixed year for Manningham. Relative success on the field has them in the four, but this has been cast back to the hard reality of life with the tragic death of Vice President and club slawart Rod Sheehan over the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
What they need? Despite the trauma that the club has experienced, the players need to find something in the remaining weeks of the year as there is a chasing pack after their fourth spot. They are one of the few teams to trouble Hawthorn so it will be interesting if they can hang on and make it to September.
Finals or bust? They are a game clear in fourth and finish with four of their last five at home. Don’t go anywhere in September if you are a Cobra.
An offseason of discontent has been put behind them as this newly formed club has been reborn into Division 4. Looked to be one of the stronger teams early before a series of close losses had them out of reach of the four.
What they need? Manningham to drop at least two games and Westbourne will also need to beat either Canterbury or Hawthorn plus win their other games to make it.
Finals or bust? They have a fantastic percentage, but so too do the sides above them. May have left their run a little late and it could be a re-building year in which case look out next year.
Box Hill North
A one point loss to former mates Dragons sent Box Hill North into a mini rut. They have bounced back and are again in contention to make the four.
What they need? A change of the fixture? Unfortunately the Demons face both Hawthorn (H) and West Brunswick (H) and despite their improvements the Demons will struggle to win those matches and their others which they will need to do if they are to play finals.
Finals or bust? Bust seems a bit harsh given the improvement the Demons have shown. Being selected as a host club for the International Australian Rules Cup match between Japan and Tonga is a huge fillip for the club.
Since joining the VAFA in 2010, Point Cook have always looked to be one of the most threatening clubs Division 4. Unfortunately the pull of money often sees their better players depart so it has been hard to build on their finals appearances.
What they need? To hold on to their key players in the off season.
Finals or bust? This has been a middling year for the Bulldogs. A good learning curve for the club to bounce back stronger next year.
It has been a rude awakening for the Dragons since they joined the VAFA in 2013. The expectations the club had for immediate success have not materialised. Last year they almost snuck into the finals but this year they have been off the pace.
What they need? Less injuries and a more permanent home to train and play at.
Finals or bust? No finals this year either. Despite improved form, and still being mathematical chances, footy trip can be safely booked a week earlier should they choose.
The Bulls have been the surprise team of 2014 for all the wrong reasons. A finals berth last year for both their seniors and reserves had created optimism about what 2014 might entail. Alas those plans have been cast aside.
What they need? A few morale boosting wins in the final five weeks to take something into next year.
Finals or bust? This has been a bust type of year for the Bulls.
How do they do it? One win for the seniors in six years of footy, yet they still front up every week. The introduction of Ken Schwab from Eley Park was hoped to bring some of his magic touch to the club, alas again Chadstone is looking set for another winless season.
What they need? A stack of priority picks. Or failing that, possibly they should change their name back to Syndal Tally Ho – after all they did win a VAFA flag as the Synners in 2001.
Finals or bust? Hmmm… Next year?
Finally all of Masala, Mt Lilydale and Wyndham Suns all hope to be in this section next year. Between them they have 16 wins, the Suns have racked up most of those with 9 and are second in U19 North. Mt Lilydale will play Club XVIII (1) finals which is also a good result for a club looking to rebuild. Masala had their first win of the year a couple of weeks ago and certainly have ambitions to grow into a fully fledged senior club.