The opening round of the ‘Fresha Fruit Juice’ Hampden Football Netball League Finals Series did not disappoint on the weekend, with two great games as well impressive crowd numbers both at Victoria Park and the Gardens Oval. It was a welcoming sight to see as we’ve missed the opportunity to host finals since 2019 due to the global pandemic. The atmosphere at both games was unbelievable, with all teams participating having their supporters full of voice. I’ve got no doubt it will be similar this weekend at the Friendlies Society’s Park and Cobden Recreation Reserve.
Week 1 Finals Take-Aways
North Warrnambool – A terrific hard fought win with a multitude of players standing up in tough final conditions. Tate Porter and Jett Bermingham were outstanding in the midfield, Joe McKinnion was outstanding down back and Adam Wines is a bloody good forward. Recovery is the key for the Eagles this week, when they try to gain entry into their 3rd ever Grand Final.
South Warrnambool – A sluggish opening half, but after some position changes, were back into the game. Archie Stevens is a bonafide midfield star, Ollie Bridgewater is the best young big-man in the competition and Harry Lee has the best defensive punch in the league. A lot of good learnings from this match will hold the Roosters in good stead this week.
Portland – Portland was one of the stories of the weekend, winning their first ever Hampden League Finals game. A see-sawing affair for the third three quarters but the Tigers’ impressive, quick midfield stepped up. Skipper Daniel Jackson is a real chance in the Maskell Medal, Lachie Hupputz will dominate this competition in the coming seasons, Ben Malcolm is impressive and Tom Sharp is so important to their deeper finals aspirations.
Warrnambool – Warrnambool were impressive for the first two and a half quarters before the Tigers were too strong. Blues forward Jason Rowan was looking dangerous with five goals and a few misses (only 5 goals away from 1000) and the likes of Howard, Boyd, Worden and Mast were extremely positive, with their future kids looking bright.
Seagulls New Coach
I mentioned in last week’s column that the impending coaching announcement for Port Fairy was one of the clubs most important decisions to make in the past 20 years and last weekend they announced their new leader in Dustin McCorkell, which in my mind is a brilliant choice. What does Dustin bring to the Seagulls? He’s coached senior football before at the Warrnambool Blues, he’s featured in multiple finals and played in premierships, so he knows what success looks and feels like. Dustin has played high level football in the VFL with North Ballarat and in Geelong, so he knows the features of a strong football program. His contact list book is extensive, so I have no doubt he can attract some quality players to the club. Lastly, Dustin is a Port Fairy local, he knows the importance the club plays in the local community and is committed to getting Seagulls competing hard in the competition again. I can’t speak highly enough of the appointment, the Port Fairy Seagulls are in terrific hands for 2023.
Koroit vs North Warrnambool
Last time these two magnificent clubs met in a final match was the 2019 HFNLGrand Final. It was a close match that day, and I’m expecting something almost similar. North Warrnambool have a strong midfield and will rely on their goals kicked between their forwards and ball-winners. Koroit will be fresh, almost full strength and ready to continue the dynasty. I love their experience, their motivation to get more premierships, especially for those who have yet to score one. Koroit by 22 points.
South Warrnambool vs Portland
The team’s second appearance against one another in three weeks, but on this occasion, a different venue. Once the Roosters got their method flowing last round, they were humming together better. No Archie Stevens this week will hurt but they could get Dye and Thomas from injury. Portland are riding the finals wave, outstanding last round and will believe in their chances. Jackson, Sharp, Haylock and Jennings need to all fire to win. I believe South Warrnambool will win!
Enjoy week two of the finals!
Bloods Up and About
Terang Mortlake have been one of the pleasing stories during the second half of the Hampden League season. The Bloods have shown significant improvement, winning four of their 5 games since round 10. The Blood’s youthful midfield of Hutchins, Vickers, Kenna and the Roberts brothers is exciting. They have a genuine tall forward Will Kain, who has the potential to be anything and Gus Bourke has had a career-best season off half-back. Hopefully the list remains, they can add two or three new recruits and begin their return to finals action.
Port Fairy Rising Star
Despite Port Fairy having its battles on-field this season, one positive has been the emergence of some highly talented junior players. One player that sticks out for mine is Segade Lucardie. Segade has been a shining light and looks to be a player, with strong ball winning skills and finishing skills. The 16 year old who made his debut this season was born in Ireland, grew up in Cambodia and Vietnam. He came to Australia in 2020 and played his first full season of competitive football in 2021 with the Seagulls U16 team. Segade is a product of the Hanoi Swans Vietnam Auskick Program. The youngster’s father Dan has former allegiances with the Hampden League previously playing with Mortlake. A young footballer to keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond.
Maskell Medal Chances
This has been a topic I have been thinking about, who will win this year’s Maskell Medal? As we know it’s generally a midfielders award but could we see a forward take it out. The season Portland Tiger spearhead Tom Sharp has put together is impressive as is the season of Koroit star Sam Dobson. Both players have kicked lots of goals this year but each week are contributing in other ways to ensure team success. Other names I believe will feature strongly in the votes are South Warrnambool trio Archie Stevens, Josh Saunders and Ollie Bridgewater, Warrnambool’s Damian McCorkell, Tigers captain Daniel Jackson (I reckon top three), Koroit midfielder Alex Pulling and North Warrnambool’s Jett Bermingham. It’s a wide open race and whoever is crowned the winner, will be well-deserved.
Round 17 Matches
Hamilton vs Camperdown – Despite being two key soldiers short heading into this clash, Hamilton will be hoping to record a win in their last home match of the year. The challenge will be restricting Sam Gordons influence, as he is a dangerous player if the supply is regular and clean. An interesting match, I’m leaning towards the Kangaroos.
Terang Mortlake vs South Warrnambool – I am loving the Bloods second half of the year, they’ve shown some great signs and hopefully further improvement comes in 2023. Unfortunately they’re up against an inform South Warrnambool, which will be a real tough task. The Roosters are getting almost all of their personnel back, they will be hard to beat.
Port Fairy vs Warrnambool – Some great news during the week was Port Fairy confident of fielding a senior team after last week’s difficult decision. Warrnambool are starting to find some form and building some self-belief in the finishing rounds before finals. The Blues for mine.
Portland vs Koroit – Portland are not playing their football leading into the finals, sustaining another very surprising defeat last round. Their final two games are against the league’s top two teams and that will be a real test. Koroit had a week off and will be freshened up. The Saints will be too strong.
North Warrnambool vs Cobden – A game where North Warrnambool can’t take their lower-ranked opposition too lightly, with Cobden showing continual improvement under first year coach Dan Casey. The Eagle lost a couple of warriors last round to injury and will be hoping a few big names will return. Cobden will be ultra competitive but in my mind will fall marginally short.
Supporting the Seagulls
It has been one tough year for the Port Fairy Seagulls and it became even tougher only days ago with the club announcing they would be forfeiting their senior football clash with Koroit. No doubt, one of the hardest decisions this club has had to make in recent times, but with low player numbers, high injury numbers and illness, the Seagulls had no other choice. The big question for us to think about as a football community now, is how can we best help and support them moving forward and getting them back winning games? The club stated in their media release this week “they aren’t going anywhere and have no intention to change that anytime soon”, which shows the hard working committee are ready to fight this tough time. We as a league need a competitive Port Fairy side in the competition, they’re an important part of our fabric. Planning for 2023 has well and truly commenced and lets hope we hear some pleasing news in the coming months. There is some quality amongst the Seagulls playing list, star power in Sully, McMeel, Mercovich, Sullivan, and young talent coming through including Lecardie, Pollock, Myers and Dalton. Hopefully we see some experienced players head to Gardens Oval to work with this group, as well as former Seagulls wanting to return to the club and help build again.
South Warrnambool tall Sam Kelly will play in his 150th senior game this weekend against the North Warrnambool Eagles. Sam was a key ingredient in the Roosters 2011 premiership win and continues to be a vital cog in the 2022 line-up. Whilst assisting Ollie Bridgewater in the ruck at times this season, Sam has forged a tight knit unit in the South Warrnambool forward line this season with Weir, Beks, Henderson, Dye and Irving. He has kicked 24 goals this season. A major milestone Sam will be proud of, but no doubt his main focus is what the team can achieve in September. Congrats on the milestone Smell.
Maskell Medal Change
Some exciting news this week was unveiled in regards to the 2022 Maskell Medal Day, with each club set to host their own function with the awards to be conducted at Silver Ball Studios. The Hampden Leagues partnership with Fitzmedia will be further enhanced, and as part of the new concept, the studio hosts will conduct live crosses to each club throughout the afternoon and interview winners of each awards. Terrific innovation, and a great chance for clubs to build extra revenue this season.
Round 16 Matches
The top five is locked and loaded for this year’s finals series with Warrnambool consolidating their position last weekend. The race for a top 3 position is still well and truly between South Warrnambool, North Warrnambool and Portland. We might have to wait until the final round to see who will receive the double chance.
South Warrnambool vs North Warrnambool – A toss of the coin decision for this one. The Roosters could welcome back as many as 9 first choice players this weekend as they’ve been undermanned in recent weeks. North Warrnambool are building some great continuity and will be confident in their chances. A great game coming up with both clubs having so much upside. I think South Warrnambool narrowly will get the win.
Terang Mortlake vs Portland – The Bloods have had a great second half of the year, with a number of their young players performing well. Portland had a big win last round and will be focused on regaining good form heading into their first ever finals campaign. Tigers for me.
Warrnambool vs Camperdown – Warrnambool will be hoping to make it consecutive wins whilst Camperdown will be hoping to take a scalp. I think this game will be reasonably close if the Magpies can be at their best. The Blues will want good form heading into September and I think they win.
Hamilton vs Cobden – Two young emerging teams going head to head. Cobden have improved so much throughout the course of the season while Hamilton has shown their best football is hard to come up against. A real even contest and I think Cobden narrowly win.
Have a great weekend at the football.
Dowie and Casey Return
It is terrific to see a number of clubs confirm their coaches for the 2023 season so early, with four clubs already committing to their current coaches for next season. Portland and Hamilton were on the ball early with Jarrod Holt and Hamish Waldron reappointed early, whilst in the past week, North Warrnambool and Cobden have confirmed that Adam Dowie and Dan Casey will be going around again. Both sides have shown great signs this year, and it understandable why ‘Wiggsy’ and ‘Case’ would want another season at the helm. Two great appointments for season 2023.
Jezza and Spencey Milestones
Two terrific players in the Hampden League play in significant milestones this weekend with Koroit premier ruckman Jeremy Hausler playing in his 200th senior game whilst Camperdown midfielder Cameron Spence playing his 100th senior match. Let’s start with ‘Jezza’, what a key contributor he has been for the Saints in their premiership domination, as well as Hampden League representative. A consistent performer, hard-working teammate and overall a terrific person and role model for the younger brigade at Victoria Park. Cameron, exciting, accumulator, pace, slick and damaging are the words I associate with him. Still young in age, plenty of football left and hopefully he goes on to play another 200 games at the Magpies. Two great Hampden League people and we wish them all the best in their clash against one another at the Leura Oval.
Vale Clinton Hall
Some sad news for the Hampden League family this week, with the passing of former South Warrnambool and Terang Mortlake footballer Clinton Hall. A premiership player in 2006 with the Roosters, Hally was a terrific hard-running wingman whose fitness base was elite. Not only was he a key contributor for South Warrnambool in that premiership year, but he was a life member at the Friendlies Society Park, a huge contributor off-field and most importantly, a terrific person. Condolences to the Hall Family, our thoughts are certainly with you.
Lastly, inspiring support for the Western Victoria Female Football League Grand Finals last weekend, with the senior and under 18 competition growing further in stature this season. Congratulations to Hamilton winning the Senior Female decider whilst South Warrnambool continue to dominate the underage competition. A big shout out to Tank Meade for his work with the Roosters girls, he’s been an important figure in the emergence of the female football league.
The final month of matches coming up in the home and away season. The five in my mind looks set, but the positions all bar fifth could change in this time. This weekend’s tips are in bold.
Camperdown vs Koroit
Hamiltonvs South Warrnambool
Warrnambool vs Cobden
Portland vs Port Fairy
Terang Mortlake vs North Warrnambool
Have a great weekend at the footy.
The Fight to the Finals
There is so much to still play out in the remaining rounds of the Hampden Football Netball League, and the final five is far from organised. The battle for top position is still open, even though I personally believe Koroit will hold onto that mantle. The battle for top three position is well and truly open between South Warrnambool, Portland and North Warrnambool, with all of the three mentioned meeting one another in the coming weeks. North Warrnambool hosts Portland this weekend and this result could tell how the narrative might go. And last but not least, the fifth and final position is still up for grabs, despite Warrnambool holding a two game advantage. Cobden and Hamilton are chasing, but they would need everything to go right for them in the run home and hoping the Blues drop most of their games. This is how I beleive the top five will look after Round 18:
In seasons gone by, the Hampden League senior goal-kicking award has almost always had a clear winner. This year’s battle is a three horse race between Portland’s Tom Sharp, Koroit’s Sam Dobson and Warrnambool’s Jason Rowan. The Tigers goalkicking ace has enjoyed the new role up forward, currently leading the table on 60 goals, while Dobson and Rowan are both 54. It’s going to be an exciting battle for the final five games of the season, and I know each individual will be focusing more on the team result, but hopefully the eventual winner will look back at seasons end of their fine performance in the forward 50. My tip is Portland’s Tom Sharp, an ultra consistent season and a smoky in this year’s Maskell Medal for mine.
Cobden Midfielder Down
One of the most improved players in the Cobden Bombers line up this season has been Ryleigh McVilly. Unfortunately, Ryleigh sustained a horrific leg injury on Saturday in the team’s victory against Port Fairy. The Cobden Bombers on their facebook page stated that Ryleigh had surgery to repair a clean break to his fibula and a dislocated ankle. No doubt it will be a significant time on the sidelines for the tough inside midfielder, who’s been one of the team’s most consistent performers.. We hope everything goes well in his recovery and we see him back on the ground sooner rather than later in the red and black.
Round 14 Matches
Port Fairy vs Camperdown (HLL Match of the Day) – Camperdown will enter the match with a load of confidence after their surprise defeat of the Portland Tigers. Youngster Hamish Sinnott and gun forward Sam Gordon lead the charge and will be called on again to back up their heroics. Port Fairy has been much improved in the past three weeks and will be looking for another good showing. Camperdown for me.
North Warrnambool vs Portland – Wow, what an encounter coming up. It was extremely close last time and I’m predicting the same again. The other major part of this game is this could be the battle to determine the last spot inside the top three. Portland have held it all season and will be desperate to hold a double chance heading into the finals whilst North Warrnambool will be backing themselves in as their form of recent weeks has been very good. A great match coming up, I think home ground advantage will help the Eagles.
South Warrnambool vs Warrnambool – South Warrnambool were outstanding for the first half last week with a side missing 8 of their best 21. Late withdrawals of Youl, Hussey, Saunders and White didn’t help the cause. They’ll be looking to get back on the rebound against the cross town rival. Warrnambool will be hoping to gather some good form heading into the final rounds as they are being chased by Hamilton and Cobden for the fifth spot. I think South Warrnambool will win.
Cobden vs Koroit – A tough encounter for the Cobden Bombers, who will be celebrating Tom Spokes 100th senior game. The Bombers need to get a scalp if they wish to make a last ditch effort to make the five, but the Saints will be tough as they are the most in-form team of the competion. I see Koroit winning this one.
Terang Mortlake vs Hamilton – I think this could be one of the games of the round. The Bloods have been in very good form whilst Hamilton are fighting for their first ever Hampden League finals appearance. It will come down to the wire but I think the big ground will suit Hamilton, as they are a very good running team.
See you at the footy
Indigenous Round Success
The feedback from the inaugural Indigenous Round in the Hampden Football Netball League last weekend was a positive one. The smoking ceremony that took place at the Bushfield Recreation Reserve was a moving one, with Peek Whurrong elder Rob Lowe senior providing a historical insight into the rich indigenous culture of the local region, as well talking about his relation Pompy Austin, the first ever indigenous player in the VFL. The discussions have already started with indigenous round growing next year with specially designed jumpers and more venues taking part in smoking ceremonies. Well Done to all, outstanding outcome.
Outstanding news recently with Hamilton reappointing Hamish Waldron as senior coach for the 2023 season. ‘Hammer’ has been a breath of fresh air for the Kangaroos, he’s highly respected, a driven individual and he bleeds royal blue and white. The Kangaroos have shown terrific growth this season, still in strong contention to play finals football and more importantly have blooded a host of talented junior players. A great appointment and wouldn’t it be great to see the lads from Hamilton participate in finals very soon.
Goals of the Season
I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed some great football matches this season, and see first-hand some terrific marks and goals. Some of the main culprits providing a plethora of highlights include Koroit’s Sam Dobson and Connor Byrne, Portland’s Tom Sharp and Toby Jennings, Bloods forward Will Kain, South Warrnambool’s Jack Dye and Cobden’s Jack Hutt to name a few. On the weekend, I was privileged to call one of the best goals I’ve seen for some time and it was from North Warrnambool defender Luke Wines. ‘Nuggie’ received the footy from a team-mate on the paint of his defensive 50m. He automatically began to run and carry the football through the corridor with no opponent in sight, taking 5 bounces before floating through a goal from 48m out. It was a terrific finish and a highlight in his 150th match. If you would like to see the goal, head to the Hampden League website and search for North Warrnambool and Warrnambol, it was kicked in the third term.
Round 13 Matches
What a fixture of matches we have this weekend with a number of matches important for top position, top three and top five purposes. It’s been a great season to date and hopefully the final six weeks of the season before finals provides many highlights.
Koroit vs South Warrnambool – What a clash coming up. The Roosters were dominant last time around on Good Friday. Both sides are almost at full strength and will relish this week’s opportunity. Top position is on the line, with a first week bye in the finals on offer. A hard game to select a winner, I think Koroit just with a home ground advantage.
Hamilton vs North Warrnambool – A vital game for Hamilton to remain in contention for a top five berth. North Warrnambool is coming off a top win and will be eager to still contend for a double chance. I think North is just playing a little better football at the moment.
Camperdown vs Portland – It’s been a tough year for the Magpies and hopefully they can push one of the best young sides in the competition. Portland are needing to keep winning, especially with the Eagles lurking around their heels for that third position. I think the Tigers will win.
Terang Mortlake vs Warrnambool – Warrnambool has been unlucky in recent weeks with injuries to key players, Cowling, Bell, Ryan, O’Keefe and Cody. Whilst they have given the senior opportunity to some younger players, they are just hanging onto fifth position on the ladder. A real danger game for mine, with the Bloods winning two out of their last three games. I think the Blues get the job done, only just.
Cobden vs Port Fairy – I love the direction Cobden is heading and I believe they will register another victory this week. The efforts and performance of the Seagulls during the last two weeks has been greatly improved and lets hope they can lodge a win or get extremely close before the season concludes.
Enjoy your day at the footy.
Port Fairy Support
There is no doubt local football around the state is facing its battles. It has been a challenge for some clubs in the Hampden Football Netball League this season for many reasons, but there is one thing that is evident, all stakeholders are working their backsides off to ensure long term viability and success. Port Fairy has been one club this season that has faced many big challenges, they suffered a significant loss last round, have had player number difficulties, but are determined to work through these issues and hopefully return to the competitive force they’ve been over the past 5-6 seasons. If there was ever a time where the club needed ex-players, officials and volunteers to rally around them, the time is now. Port Fairy are an important part of the Hampden League fabric and it’s important we see them prospering in the years to come.
Emmanuel College Success
Koroit coach Chris McLaren and sixteen youngsters that have played senior football in the Hampden League were this week a part of the Emmanuel College team that won the SSV Premier League title at Mars Stadium. The exciting playing group will now participate in the semi-finals of the Herald Sun Shield, taking on the big private schools in metropolitan Melbourne. An unbelievable effort and a great advertisement of the talent we have in the region.
Multiple premiership winning defender Tim McPherson will play his 100th game this weekend, when Koroit meet arch rivals North Warrnambool at Victoria Park. Tim, who in my mind is one of the best defenders we’ve seen in the last 10 years, has been a crucial component to the defensive end of the Saints. Tim has never been a huge accumulator of the ball, but his one on one body work, spoils and goal restriction of the premier forwards has been sublime. A great football person and we wish him all the best.
Round 11 Matches
Koroit vs North Warrnambool – What a contest coming up. Koroit are playing some unbelievable team football, whilst North Warrnambool are finding their mojo and building towards a strong finish. Hard to tip against Koroit at home, it will be a game where the winner will just get over the line.
Camperdown vs South Warrnambool – South Warrnambool are a very good football side and will be hard to beat. No doubt some recent injuries will hurt them, but they do have great depth. Camperdown are emerging, they have some great young talent – Coates, Payne to identify a couple. Hard task for the home team.
Warrnambool vs Hamilton – This is one of the most important games of the week. Warrnambool are just holding fifth spot on the ladder by percentage and can jump a game ahead if they can win or subsequently fall outside the top 5 with a defeat. Hamilton are the team shadowing the Blues, they have good form against them, and themselves are playing a nice brand of football. Warrnambool have been decimated with injuries but I expect them to show a return to form, but only just.
Port Fairy vs Terang Mortlake – Recent form suggests it’s hard to tip Port Fairy. Last weekend, it was a tough week and hopefully, we will see a strong response on Saturday. I like Terang Mortlake, they have outstanding juniors – Hutchins, Vickers, Kain and the Roberts brothers. The Bloods will be too good.
Cobden vs Portland – An important period coming up for Portland if they wish to receive the double chance in the finals series. After a tough block of matches, they must ensure they win against the teams outside the top five to bank their wins. Cobden will prove to be a real test, they’re improvement has been fantastic as the season has progressed. I Portland win.
Have a great day at the footy.
Only recently I was checking out the weekend round of scores in the Victorian Football League, the second tier competition under the AFL. Whilst it didn’t surprise me, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of Hampden Football Netball League products running around, and there were quite a few. As we all know, the Hampden League is a premier competition and has produced an excessive amount of top football talent, whether to the AFL, VFL or other state league competitions. I think we should all be very proud of the players running around in the AFL and VFL and hopefully now, you will keep an even keener eye on the results each week. Here are a list of players to check out on a weekly basis: Footscray – Josh Chatfield (Koroit) and Angus Bade (Warrnambool), Geelong – Fraser Marris, Marcus Herbert, Liam Herbert (South Warrnambool), Tom Feely and Lachlan Waddell (Hamilton), Scott Carlin (Terang Mortlake), North Melbourne – Connor Hinkley (Koroit), Werribee – Keegan Gray (Portland) and Carlton: Archie Stevens (South Warrnambool).
Multiple Koroit premiership player Brett Harrington will line up in the red, white and black for the 250th time this weekend against Camperdown. What a contributor ‘Harry’ has been for the Saints, a key member of the midfield group in those strong premiership winning teams. Brett, a past winner of the Maskell Medal, has strong leadership skills and is a past premiership skipper. They breed them beautifully at Koroit and Brett is another one of the exceptional players who has graduated into a top level Hampden League player from the Koroit academy.
Pekin Reaches the Ton
One of Cobden’s favourite sons, Paul Pekin, will run around in the red and black this weekend for the 100th time against Warrnambool. Paul made his senior debut with the Bombers as a 16 year old in 2014, before really establishing his position in the side from 2015. A Hampden League representative, Paul attacks each game the same, with plenty of tenacity and application. He is known for his playing on the edge style, which has commonly seen him ruffle a few feathers against opposition players. Paul is this season a co-captain of the Bombers, a role I know he will grown into as the senior goes on. Enjoy game 100 Peko!
Round 6 Matches
Cobden vs Warrnambool – What a game this should be. Cobden is building nicely each week and would love to get a scalp. Warrnambool’s early season form has been a little indifferent but I think they have enough fire-power to win.
Koroit vs Camperdown – I love what Koroit are doing at the moment, blooding heaps of kids who are making a great impact, on-top of their senior guns. Camperdown are young and a great learning opportunity this weekend. Saints easy for mine.
South Warrnambool vs Hamilton – South Warrnambool are the team to chase at the moment and Hamilton in previous seasons have matched up reasonably well. It will take a mighty effort for the Kangaroos to win, I’ll confidently stick with South Warrnambool.
Port Fairy vs Portland – How good are Portland going? They are playing a confident, exciting brand of football that will be hard to shut down this weekend. The Seagulls are improving each week, but not enough to win.
Terang Mortlake vs North Warrnambool – Injuries have certainly had an impact on the form of North Warrnambool in recent weeks as well as being outplayed by their opposition. A really important game for them to get some confidence and form back, but it will be against a Bloods side that will be keen to upstage a top contender. North Warrnambool will improve and win.
Good Luck to all teams this weekend.
See you at the footy!
After two recent weekend byes in the Hampden Football Netball League, the next seven weeks is going to be extremely interesting and potentially set up the season for a number of sides.
As we are aware, South Warrnambool and Portland have started the season faultlessly, remaining undefeated and already look like dangerous top five sides. Koroit are going extremely well, while North Warrnambool and Warrnambool are going soundly. The next block of matches are going to be crucial for the likes of Hamilton and Cobden, who in my eyes are capable of playing in September. Brace yourself for an exciting seven weeks coming up before the next bye.
A great young individual will line up for game 100 this weekend, with defender Christian Koroneos reaching the milestone. Christian from day one has been a vital cog in the Bomber defensive unit and still relatively young has a lot of Hampden League football left in him. Cobden are an extremely young outfit and the experience and leadership Christian offers is priceless. A well-loved teammate, the Cobden community will be celebrating Christian’s efforts this weekend.
Camperdown export Hamish Sinnott and Portland Tiger Jamieson Ballantyne have a chance to give the AFL system a further look at their potential after being selected in the AFL Young Guns Series this weekend. The teams have been selected by AFL recruiters as they look to bolster their lists in the upcoming MId-Season Rookie Draft. Both players have lined up with the GWV Rebels this season, while Hamish is also on the Carlton VFL list. A great opportunity for both players and we wish them all the best of luck.
Some exciting news at the start of the 2021 season was the return of Jason Rowan to the Warrnambool Blues. The Blues sharp-shooter returned to the Reid Oval with a total of 894 goals, 126 behind the league record set by South Warrnambool legend Tony Russell. Whilst having an injury interrupted year last season, only playing four games and kicking 8 goals, Rowan has started 2022 on fire, having already kicked 20 goals. It will be interesting to see how many the gun can kick this year and will he keep running around in hope of setting a new record.
South Warrnambool – Awesome team that are strong all-over the ground. They’ll be too good for Warrnambool.
Koroit – A great learning opportunity for Cobden, but the Saints are playing well and they have some terrific first-year players.
Portland – I am a big wrap for the Tigers, with a few Eagles missing, I think the Tigers will remain undefeated.
Camperdown – Two young sides in this battle, going on form-line, the Magpies playing better than Port Fairy.
Hamilton – Hamilton plays a good brand of football, if they had two or three more A-Graders, they’d be close to being a top five team. Close match, but they’ll prevail.
Have a great weekend watching local footy and netball.
This weekend we conclude the first month of Hampden League action and have there been many surprises? In my eyes, there haven’t been too many.
South Warrnambool and Portland enter this round of matches undefeated. We always knew South Warrnambool were going to be a dangerous outfit, due to maintaining their 2021 list but adding some missing components, that being a couple of forwards to assist Beks, Kelly and co. Portland is the other team that has impressed, they play an exciting brand of football, even across the ground and believe in the game-style devised by coach Jarrod Holt. The challenge over the next few weeks for the Tigers will be how they match up against the Roosters, Saints and Eagles. But they are in a good position to play their first ever finals series despite having qualified last season.
North Warrnambool have been interesting over the first three rounds, a huge win over Port Fairy, a nail-biting loss to Koroit and a recent loss to Warrnambool. The Eagles entered the season with much hype, and despite an indifferent start, don’t count them out. They have a great list profile, some players adapting to their new team and new roles having been given to others. As we all know, coach Adam Dowie would fully review the last few games, identified the teams improvement areas and organised themselves for the upcoming block of matches.
A team that I’m looking forward to seeing is Cobden. New coach Dan Casey has entered the 2022 season with a development mind-set with the Bombers and over the first three rounds, there has been gradual improvement resulting in a recent win against arch rivals Camperdown. I think this season will be one to be aware of the younger sides, as they are capable of getting under a team’s guard and causing an upset. Keep a keen eye on the Cobden squad this season.
Next weekend is a bye round and in previous seasons, the discussion this time of the year would be around inter-league. It’s a great shame that it is not occuring, especially with the momentum our league had under the guidance of South Warrnambool export Jonathan Brown. I would love to see us play some form of representative football again, taking on the likes of Geelong, Ballarat or Ovens and Murray at venues like GMHBA Stadium and Mars Stadium as a curtain raiser to an AFL fixture, celebrating country football. A match like this would promote our league and potentially expose some of our great young players to AFL, VFL and SANFL clubs.
Only four matches this weekend with South Warrnambool and Koroit having the week off due to playing Good Friday. My tips are:
Cobden vs Port Fairy – The Cobden Bombers are showing great early signs and will be hard to beat at home. Port Fairy are getting some more key experienced personnel back but it won’t be quite enough to get the win.
North Warrnambool vs Hamilton – Hamilton will enjoy playing at Bushfield, as its a similar size to Melville Oval. Whilst the Kangaroos will be competitive, expect a statement performance from the Eagles.
Portland vs Camperdown – I love the way Portland are playing and it’s becoming an extremely hard road-trip for teams. Camperdown will be competitive but won’t have enough fire-power to derail the Tigers winning streak.
Terang Mortlake vs Warrnambool – The Bloods are young and exciting and will be hoping to bounce back after a huge defeat last round. Warrnambool were outstanding last week against the Eagles and have set the precedent of how they need to play each week. The Blues have some nice kids in Radley and Mast, they’ll be hard to beat.
Have a great weekend at the football.