What an outstanding start we had to the 2023 Hampden Football Netball League in Round 1 and Good Friday. The crowds were promising at all games, we encountered some excellent standard games across all grades and more importantly, everyone had a smile on their face. Some of the highlights included Cobden recording their first win against Koroit since 2013, Terang Mortlake hanging on by 6 points against a gallant Camperdown, Warrnambool looking sharp under new coach Daniel O’Keefe, North Warrnambool holding off a hard-working Hamilton outfit and South Warrnambool looking the goods against Port Fairy and Koroit. I think it’s fair to say that this season will feature more closer games and evenness, compared to what we have witnessed in the last few seasons.
Each side welcomed a number of new faces to their line-ups in Round 1. There were many great performances but I wanted to highlight a few. North Warrnambool forward Nick Rodda showed he will be a force of the competition, looking dangerous in the attacking 50, kicking 4 goals including some long bombs. There is going to be a lot of headaches for opposition backman lining up on the former VFL/WAFL star. South Warrnambool has welcomed back Jeremy Mugavin to the fold. His excellent football nous and exemplary skills were showcased and he will be a vital part of the Roosters line up this season. Camperdown recruit Jason Baird showed he will be an asset for the Magpies this season, starting well against the Bloods, kicking two goals in the forward 50 and creating a few others.
For those that are wanting an update on how Jason Rowan sits on the league goal-kicking record chase, he is 25 away from taking over from legendary South Warrnambool goal-kicker Tony Russell. But before Jason hits that magical mark, he must break the 1000 goal barrier first. He started Round 1 on 995 goals, he booted one major and his next chance is against his former side Warrnambool this weekend at the Reid Oval. The potential of reaching the magical mark might bring a big crowd to the Reid Oval. It will be interesting to see how Jason goes against his former side. No matter the round he reaches both targets, it’s a remarkable feat and one that will certainly be celebrated.
Matthew Buck – Carlton AFLW Coach
One of the greatest pieces of news in the last week was the announcement of Matthew Buck (former South Warrnambool coach) as the new senior coach of the Carlton AFLW side. Matthew is a great Hampden League person, obviously having ties to Terang Mortlake, North Warrnambool, Koroit and South Warrnambool in a playing and coaching capacity. Matthew is a sound tactician and a great developer of players, and most recently has done some great work in the VFL with both Werribee and Carlton. An enormous opportunity and one that I know Bucky will take with open hands. Congratulations to a great Hampden League person.
Round Two Selections
Warrnambool vs Port Fairy (Hampden League Live Match of the Round) – A match that has some great storylines. Jason Rowan up against his old side as well as being on the brink of kicking 1000 career goals. Dustin McCorkell will also coach against his old side as well as Theo Opperman taking on his old junior club. The Blues have a new look – new coach, some exciting new recruits, different game style and a healthy list. It promises to be a great match as the Seagulls will improve in 2023. Warrnambool by under 2 goals.
Terang Mortlake vs North Warrnambool – A twilight fixture this weekend and one that could go down to the wire. The Bloods have recruited well and will improve their position in 2023. They play a fast brand of football and have some exciting talent in Vickers, Hutchins and Hobbs. It will be interesting to see how North Warrnambool line-up, Adam Wines will miss due to suspension and there are question marks around the knee of Nathan Vardy. I expect this to be tight and a real fight. I think North just gets the job completed.
Camperdown vs South Warrnambool – I think another side that has a lot of upside this year is Camperdown. So close in round one, they will be fighting hard each round to get as many wins as 2022 and more. They play the best team in the comp at the moment. South Warrnambool looked the goods last week and I feel will keep getting better. I hope the Magpies are extremely competitive but I think the Roosters will win well.
Koroit vs Portland – An interesting match up. Koroit are young and many are still finding their feet in senior football. What the Saints still have in their line-up is good experience – Mooney, Couch, Hoy and Martin. Hopefully Portland can bounce back after a tough round one defeat at home. I think Koroit gets the job fairly comfortably and no way will we see them lose three in a row.
Hamilton vs Cobden – Another intriguing battle. Both sides love to move the ball quickly and score fast. A lot of similarities in their make-up with a few small differences. Hamilton have a great forward in Darcy Russell whilst Cobden have an outstanding ruckman in Mark Marriott. Both are real keys for their respective teams. Hamilton pride themselves playing a hard brand of football at home whilst Cobden will be looking to make it two wins in a row. I like Cobde, they win by under two goals.
It promises to be a great weekend ahead and potentially a massive one for Jason Rowan . If you love your Hampden League Football, don’t forget to tune into Hampden league Live on 94.5 3YB FM each Saturday afternoon from midday for all the action.
See you at the footy