Local Footy: Old Carey at head of amazing logjam

VAFA PREMIER B
Old Carey 7 4 135.55 28
St Kevin’s 7 4 115.67 28
Old Haileybury 7 4 115.24 28
Old Ivanhoe 7 4 113.93 28
Oakleigh 7 4 110.65 28
St Bernard’s 7 4 107.61 28
Uni Blacks 6 5 113.73 24
Hampton Rovers 5 6 100.27 20
Old Essendon 1 10 68.38 4
MHSOB 1 10 52.74 4

READERS who glanced at the Victorian footy results pages in on Sunday would have been excused for thinking their porridge had been sprinkled with tangerine dream.

The Victorian Amateur Football Association’s Premier B section features six of the 10 teams in equal top position. The seventh team, Uni Blacks, has a percentage that ranks it fifth. The eighth team, Hampton Rovers, is theoretically two games from top spot.

It’s not irregular to have logjams on VAFA ladders. The policy of promoting and relegating two teams in each division makes for plenty of drama. Every year you get one or two teams across the seven senior divisions that are simultaneously fighting for a position in the top four while fighting to stave off relegation.

Even so, the weekend’s Premier B ladder is extraordinary. A scan of the Premier B ladders from round 11 over the past decade reveals a few noteworthy clusters, such as in 2005 and 2009, but nothing like this year’s unparalleled plateau. Amateurs stalwarts told The Footy Almanac they can remember nothing like it.

The rise of Old Carey Grammarians to top spot compounds a heady season for the Bulleen club. Old Carey was formed in 1954. Before this year, its best result was fifth in Premier B in the mid-’70s.

The next season the Panthers lost four young guns to Uni Blues, including the great Michael Yeo, and the club sank back into ignominy.

This season started poorly for the Panthers when they lost the first two games. Then the new players settled in. Two rounds ago, the Panthers achieved a club first when they reached fourth spot in Premier B. After last week they were third.

On Saturday night, after seeing off Old Ivanhoe by 76 points, the Panthers were elated to find themselves in top spot. But their joy has been reined in. If they lose the next two games, to Uni Blacks and Old Haileybury, they could find themselves back in eighth.

The springboard for Old Carey’s surge has been the half-back line of Cam Howat (21 AFL games for Richmond), Lachie McQueen (former full-back for Box Hill) and Grant Baldwin (former Melbourne Cricket Club batsman and contracted player with Victoria). A fortnight ago, they formed the half-back line in the Amateurs team that defeated AFL Sydney. Baldwin was best on ground.

Baldwin has been a revelation since quitting cricket last summer so he could play local footy. His ability to run with the ball and boot 60 metres on either foot has some wondering whether he could play at a higher level.

On Saturday Howat was best on ground while Julian Rowe, the former Collingwood player, provided the game’s highlight with a two-storey screamer on the wing.

In other results among the teams equal on top, Old Haileybury saw off St Kevin’s (with Brett Voss kicking five for the Bloods), St Bernard’s had a late surge to get over Old Essendon, and Oakleigh overcame Hampton Rovers.

Comments

  1. Phantom says:

    Old Essendon have landed hard. Weren’t they in Div One last year?

  2. pauldaffey says:

    Yes, Phantom, they finished ninth in A-section last year and they’re going to finish ninth in B-section this year.

    Funny old club. There’s not a particularly enduring culture there.

    They had only 14 at training the other night. That’s not so bad at an isolated country club, but it’s unusual for a suburban club.

Leave a Comment

*