A review of the 2017 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 season.
The campaign featured a record-high nine teams, with Laurimar entering the senior competition for the first time, while Reservoir returned to the fold after spending 2016 in recess.
Banyule and South Morang occupied the top-two places on the ladder for much of the year, however the race for a finals place extended long into the year, with seven sides still in finals contention heading into the final month of the regular season.
The top-four places were eventually filled by three 2016 finalists, with Banyule the only side to emerge from outside of last year’s top-four.
Despite a lack of recent finals experience, the Bears capped their best season since joining the NFL by taking out the premiership – led superbly by returning skipper Scott Gumbleton and gun recruits James Kroussoratis, Kieran Malone, Riley Keath and Matt Yarwood.
South Morang headed into the finals series on a 12-game winning streak, however the long campaign appeared to take hold on the young side, who was unable to produce its best football in September – despite reaching its first grand final since 2011.
Epping and St Mary’s again looked capable of challenging for the flag for much of the season, but were unable to close the gap on the top-two sides when it counted, while the improvement displayed by Kilmore and Heidelberg West created more depth in the competition.
Mernda started the season with consecutive wins but then endured a tough campaign, eventually finishing the year in a three-way battle with Laurimar and Reservoir to avoid the wooden spoon – which it managed to do with consecutive wins in the final two rounds.
Heidelberg West ruckman Jarryd Coulson became the first Hawk to win a competition senior best and fairest since 1988. Coulson won the award from St Mary’s skipper Dillan Ronalds – who was runner-up for the second year in a row.
Ronalds claimed the Coaches Player of the Year Award for the second time, after also winning the award in 2013, edging out Heidelberg West midfielder Masaski Miki for the honour.
Banyule’s James Kroussoratis led the goal kicking with 74 majors in the regular season – which included a bag of 12 in Round 7 to equal the record for the most goals kicked in a senior game at R.J Brockwell Oval.
Continue below for a season review for each Division 3 team:
Premier (16 wins, 2 losses)
2017 proved to be an historic year for the Banyule Football Club as it claimed its first senior premiership in the Northern Football League. The triumph came in just the club’s third season after joining from the VAFA. In Pete Davey’s first season as coach, the Bears made their intentions know very early in the piece. They won their opening seven games and had equalled their best wins tally in an NFL season prior to the halfway point of the 2017 campaign. Despite finishing the home and away season in second spot, one win behind South Morang, Banyule saved its best for the finals. It booked the first place in the grand final with a commanding 36-point second semi final win over the Lions, before backing up that performance in the premiership decider. The Bears led for much of the day and held of a fightback by South Morang early in the last term, before stretching out to win by 25 points. Captain Scott Gumbleton was dominant in his return to the fold and won the club’s best and fairest, as well as the best on ground medal in the grand final. James Kroussoratis proved to be the division’s recruit of the season and slotted 78 goals in 15 appearances. He also kicked five majors in the NFL’s huge representative win over the WRFL. Fellow recruits Riley Keath and Kieran Malone also enjoyed strong debut seasons for the club and capped their efforts with important contributions in the grand final. The Bears also found a number of new stars during the year, with Michael Edwards and Artan Cabdi emerging as ready-made senior players during the year. Edwards provided great spark and kicked 20 goals in 15 appearances, while Cabdi played all but one game. With fire power through the midfield and forward line and a more than stable defence, the Bears look well placed to make the jump into second division in 2018.
Most times in best: Scott Gumbleton and Riley Keath (9)
Leading goal kicker: James Kroussoratis (78 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Scott Gumbleton, James Kroussoratis, Kieran Malone, Devin McDonald, Jacob Smith and Pete Davey (coach)
Runner-Up (16 wins, 3 losses)
Despite breaking its three-year preliminary final curse, South Morang was again forced to endure finals heartache in 2017. The Lions entered the finals series as the premiership favourite on the back of a 12-game winning streak, but were unable to produce their best when it mattered. The Lions finals bid wasn’t helped with injuries and illness striking a number of the club’s key players at the worst possible time. Despite the disappointing end to the season, 2017 was still very much a positive season on-field for the Lions. The club parted ways with coach Dean Grainger and a host of experienced players following a loss to Banyule in Round 4. However, the faith shown in replacement Gary Hall and the club’s youngsters proved to be justified, as the Lions went on their longest winning streak in recent history. Despite all being 20 years or younger, the likes of Tye Hall, Daniel Caruso, Jordan Steele, Anthony Capeci and James Hewson emerged as star players of the division. Jake Potter was again the competition’s best tall defender, while Mitch Buckley’s move to defence also paid dividends. South Morang’s versatile forward line was lively throughout the year, with Alex Colaidis, Capeci and Raafat Rachrache combining for 100 goals. Having reached its first grand final since 2011, the club looks poised to again contend in 2018 although it will need to improve on its recent finals record – which now stands at 3-6 since 2014.
Most times in best: Tye Hall (10)
Leading goal kicker: Alex Colaidis (39 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Anthony Capeci, Alex Colaidis, Tye Hall, Jake Potter, Luke Shelton and Jordan Steele
3rd (12 wins, 6 losses)
Failed to make the grand final for the first time since joining Division 3 in 2015, but still made plenty of inroads throughout the year. The Blues looked at risk of missing the finals completely at Round 8 when they sat in sixth place on the ladder with just three wins to their name. However, their form improved steadily after the Queen’s Birthday weekend break, despite injuries to a number of key players – including Adrian Totino just as he looked to be reaching peak form. Epping was the first team to beat Banyule in an upset Round 9 result, before going on to win all but one game in the back half of the year – with the only loss a one-point defeat to St Mary’s. The Blues atoned for that defeat by coming from behind to beat the Burra by six points in the first semi final, before losing another thriller to South Morang in the preliminary final. Thomas Hughes and Leigh Judd again had outstanding seasons and were named in the Team of the Year, along with Aaron Willitts, who finished the campaign with 60 goals. Daniel Moore came out of retirement to play 11 games in the back end of the year and was a welcome inclusion, while the emergence of youngsters Corey Middleton, Dallyce Taylor and Jake Perry as established players was a major positive. Coach Greg Whitcroft kept a largely settled squad throughout the year, with Epping using just 33 players in the seniors throughout the year – four fewer than any other side.
Most times in best: Thomas Hughes (13)
Leading goal kicker: Aaron Willitts (60 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Thomas Hughes, Leigh Judd and Aaron Willitts
4th (10 wins, 7 losses)
Finished inside the top-four for the second-straight season, but was unable to break through for its first-ever finals win at senior level. The Burra had a slow start to their campaign – losing their opening two games of the year to Epping and Banyule, before kick-starting their charge with a gripping four-point win at Mernda in Round 4. They went on to win seven of their next eight games and remained in top-two contention until an upset one-point loss at Kilmore in Round 13. After a fourth-place finish on the ladder, the Burra made a strong start to the first semi final and led Epping by 13 points at quarter time. However, for the second year in succession they were unable to hold onto the lead and fell to a six-point defeat – with Myles Guldon’s long-range set shot after the final siren falling short into a strong wind. Captain Dillan Ronalds was again a star performer, kicking 24 goals in 17 games. He took out the Division 3 Coaches Player of the Year award and was runner-up in the competition best and fairest voting. Daniel Castagnini and James Boarotto were the two big improvers and both were named in the Team of the Year for the first time. At season’s end senior coach Con Borg called an end to his four-year term at the club.
Most times in best: Dillan Ronalds (16)
Leading goal kicker: Nicholas Dean (25 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: James Boarotto, Daniel Castagnini and Dillan Ronalds
5th (8 wins, 8 losses)
2017 was a season of marked improvement for Kilmore. In Nathan Phillips first full season as coach, the Blues recorded eight wins – a great effort after winning only four in the previous four years. The year began on a positive note, with the club scoring its first away win in the NFL with an 11-point win over Laurimar, before a 53-point triumph over Mernda in Round 3 showed how far the club had improved over the summer. After winning seven of their opening 13 matches, only percentage kept the club outside the top-four at Round 13. However, in the end they had to be content with a fifth-place finish. Among the Blues’ best wins were a one-point triumph over St Mary’s and a thrilling eight-point win over Heidelberg West in Round 10, when the Blues kicked four late goals to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Playing-assistant Leigh Irons enjoyed a wonderful season, claiming the club’s best and fairest and earning selection in the Team of the Year – along with defender Peter De Sousa. Adam Milne, Jaxson Kinnear and Michael Marrett also produced solid campaigns, while Daniel Matthew’s progression was encouraging. The goal in the summer will be to find a key forward, with Nick Sheldon topping the club’s goal kicking this year with just 16 majors.
Most times in best: Leigh Irons (8)
Leading goal kicker: Nicholas Sheldon (16 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Peter De Sousa and Leigh Irons
6th (7 wins, 9 losses)
Also enjoyed a year of marked improvement after a long period of being stuck at the bottom end of the table. Led by a host of recruits, Heidelberg West looked very much a finals contender for much of the season before injuries cruelly crippled the club in the back end of the season. The Hawks sat inside the top-four at the halfway point of the year. Their 5-3 record included arguably their best win in years when they came from behind to beat Epping by four points in Round 7. They also pushed the then unbeaten Banyule in a 25-point defeat the following week. The strong form continued until Round 13, before injuries decimated the club and led to a very difficult final month – where the Hawks were trounced by each of the eventual four finalists. Jarryd Coulson sealed an outstanding debut season at Heidelberg Park by winning the Division 3 best and fairest. In doing so, he became the first Hawk to win a competition best and fairest since 1988. Masaki Miki trumped him for the club best and fairest, with the duo both selected in the Team of the Year, alongside co-captain Justin Bentley. Kane Moore and Ben Kennan were consistent performers, while Kyl Ewart returned late in the year and kicked 26 goals in five appearances, including an equal season-high bag of 12 against Reservoir in Round 13.
Most times in best: Masaki Miki (14)
Leading goal kicker: Kyl Ewart (26 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Justin Bentley, Jarryd Coulson and Masaki Miki
7th (4 wins, 12 losses)
Adopted a youth policy and endured a tough campaign, which included a 12-game losing streak between rounds 3 to 16. Coach Steve Power used as many as 46 players through the senior side, with only four players playing every game. With finals never truly in consideration, many of the club’s under-17s were given a taste of senior football during the year. Despite his side’s struggles, Matthew Campbell enjoyed a strong season on an individual level and claimed the best and fairest in his second year after crossing from South Morang. Josh Delaney and Anthony Bradford were also consistent performers, while David Hutchinson kicked 36 goals in his final season – finishing with a bang with a 10-goal haul in the second-last game against Reservoir. At the conclusion of the season, Paul Derrick was announced as coach for 2018. Derrick has previously served as caretaker coach of the Demons and joins from Roxburgh Park.
Most times in best: Anthony Bradford (8)
Leading goal kicker: David Hutchinson (36 goals)
8th (2 wins, 14 losses)
Laurimar managed to avoid the wooden spoon in its inaugural season in the Northern Football League senior competition. The Power scored two wins in their debut campaign and made massive inroads as the season progressed. Their maiden win came in Round 6, when a five-goal to two third quarter helped set up a 20-point triumph over Mernda at Laurimar Reserve. The second victory was recorded in Round 9 when the Power stormed to a 64-point home win over Reservoir. Wayne Sharkie’s side certainly played its best football at home, finishing the season with a 2-6 record at Laurimar Reserve, with its average losing margin also significantly greater on the road. A true indication of the club’s improvement across the season came in Round 17, when they finished within six goals of premier Banyule. Skipper Adam Dennis led superbly and capped his year by winning the club’s inaugural best and fairest award, ahead of Leigh Murphy and Jackson Lewis. Lance Whitnall provided a focal point in attack and kicked a team-high 29 goals, which included three goals or more on five occasions. At season’s end, Laurimar announced former AFL and Whittlesea speedster Justin Sherman as its coach for 2018.
Most times in best: Cody Cullinan and Jackson Lewis (7)
Leading goal kicker: Lance Whitnall (29 goals)
9th (1 wins, 15 losses)
A mountain of work by the club’s committee ensured Reservoir returned to the playing field this year after spending the 2016 season in recess. The 2017 season was never going to be about the win-loss record, and the Mustangs showed great resilience despite regularly being on the receiving end of heavy defeats. As many as 54 players represented the club in the seniors this year, with only best and fairest winner Lachlan Shaw playing every game. Shaw, along with Emrys Black, Reece Miller and Josh Alexander provided plenty of encouragement for Mustangs supporters, while David McGregor and Kent Beaumont were goal-scoring options. The highlight of the club’s season came in Round 15, when it claimed it sole win of the year over Laurimar. The Mustangs looked in trouble when they trailed by 20 points at half time, but kicked nine goals to two in the second half to break through for a long-awaited victory – their first since winning the 2015 Division 3 grand final.
Most times in best: Lachlan Shaw (7)
Leading goal kicker: David McGregor (24 goals)
HEIDELBERG GOLF CLUB DIVISION 3 – 2017 REVIEW
First Semi Final: Epping 7.10 (52) def St Mary’s 6.10 (46)
Second Semi Final: South Morang 12.8 (80) def by Banyule 17.14 (116)
Preliminary Final: South Morang 8.14 (62) def Epping 8.6 (54)
Grand Final: Banyule 13.17 (95) def South Morang 10.10 (70)
Best and Fairest
1st – Jarryd Coulson (Heidelberg West) – 22 votes
2nd – Dillan Ronalds (St Mary’s) – 16 votes
3rd – Devin McDonald (Banyule) – 14 votes
=4th – Daniel Caruso (South Morang) – 12 votes
=4th – Jacob Smith (Banyule) – 12 votes
=4th – Jordan Steele (South Morang) – 12 votes
Leading Goal Kicker (home and away only)
1st – James Kroussoratis (Banyule) – 74 goals
2nd – Aaron Willitts (Epping) – 54 goals
3rd – Alex Colaidis (South Morang) – 37 goals
4th – David Hutchinson (Mernda) – 36 goals
5th – Raafat Rachrache (South Morang) – 35 goals
Coaches Player of the Year
1st – Dillan Ronalds (St Mary’s) – 62 votes
2nd – Masaki Miki (Heidelberg West) – 60 votes
3rd – Justin Bentley (Heidelberg West) – 55 votes
4th – Kieran Malone (Banyule) – 51 votes
=5th – Leigh Irons (Kilmore) – 48 votes
=5th – Leigh Judd (Epping) – 48 votes