A review of the 2019 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 season.
Nine teams began the 2019 season all aiming for promotion to Division 2.
2018 premier St Mary’s moved into second division after winning the 2018 grand final, however nine teams again competed in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 due to Old Eltham Collegians joining from the VAFA.
Panton Hill made its stay in third division a short one after being relegated from second division at the end of 2017. The Redbacks made the grand final in 2018 and pushed St Mary’s all the way to lose by 13 points.
Despite being in second place on the ladder for most of the 2019 season, the Redbacks clinched top spot in the final round and went on to win the flag with a 40-point win over South Morang at the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
The Lions did well to make the grand final. They only qualified for the finals in the last round of the season – defeating then ladder-leader Laurimar at Laurimar Reserve to do so, before winning both the first semi and preliminary finals to clinch a grand final spot for the second time in three years.
Laurimar appeared likely to be a grand finalist for most of the season but faltered late in the year. The Power’s cause was not helped by player unavailability in the finals – mainly because of injury. Nonetheless, they were in with a chance to win both their finals late in each contest.
Kilmore played finals for the first time in the NFNL and the first time anywhere since 2002 and were the only club in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 to have both its seniors and reserves finish in the top-four.
Mernda narrowly missed the finals for the third time in the past four years. The Demons stormed home after a slow start to the season, but it wasn’t enough to catch South Morang in fourth spot.
Back in sixth spot was Heidelberg West, who narrowly edged out Old Eltham Collegians.
The Turtles were the new team into the competition and finished the year off well – winning five games in the latter part of the season, which included a 65-point win over eventual grand finalist South Morang at Eltham College in Round 16.
Meanwhile, Lalor and Reservoir filled the final two spots on the ladder for the second consecutive season.
Heidelberg West ruckman Jarryd Coulson made history by winning the best and fairest for the third-consecutive year. In doing so, he joined John Elliot and Matthew Dennis as the only players in league history to win three senior best and fairest awards.
Panton Hill’s Rhys Boyden led the goal kicking for the second year running with 76 goals in the regular season – eclipsing his 58 majors in 2018. His personal best came in Round 12, when he kicked a big bag of 12 against Lalor.
Continue below for a season review for each team in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3.
Premier (16 wins, 2 losses)
Rewind six years and Panton Hill had won only one premiership since being formed in 1926 – with the triumph coming in 1955 when competing in the Panton Hill Football League. The Redbacks have now won two flags in a decade. After taking out the 2013 Division 3 premiership and spending four years in second division, the Redbacks were on a mission to get back into Division 2 as soon as possible following relegation in 2017. They went close in 2018, when runner-up to St Mary’s and then proved themselves to be the premier team in Division 3 in 2019. Panton Hill and Laurimar were clearly the best two sides for most of the home and away season. The Power won a thriller in the first meeting between the sides in Round 4 at A.E. Cracknell Reserve, then the Redbacks convincingly won the rematch in Round 16 at Laurimar Reserve by 36 points. From that moment on, they were the team to beat for the flag. Panton Hill clinched the minor premiership in the final home and away round and then had to work extremely hard to overcome an undermanned but determined Power team in the second semi-final and prevailed by eight points. The grand final was against South Morang – who came from fourth spot to make the big one. Panton Hill kicked the first six goals of the game and eventually won by 40 points but had to withstand a mid-game comeback by the Lions. Daniel Freeman had a great year for the Redbacks and was named best on ground in the grand final – kicking three goals and doing damage in the midfield. Alex Tsardakis chimed in with three goals as well, while Tim Duckworth’s precise kicking from defence proved invaluable. Scott Conte enjoyed a superb season and took out the best and fairest, ahead of Nathan Hendry – who returned to the club after sitting out the past few seasons. Rhys Boyden led the competition goal kicking with 76 goals in the regular season. He was well assisted throughout the year by Matthew Byron with 47. Meanwhile, Cameron Jordan, Conte, Tsardakis and Freeman all slotted 20 goals or more as well. Coach Steve Layt has elected to retire on a winning note and has left the club well placed to compete in Division 2 in 2020.
Best and fairest: Scott Conte
Leading goal kicker: Rhys Boyden (81 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Mitchell Anderson, Rhys Boyden, Matthew Byron, Scott Conte, Tim Duckworth, Brent Ryan and Steve Layt (coach)
Runner-Up (11 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw)
South Morang came from fourth spot to play in the grand final but came up short on the day. The Lions followed in the footsteps of Parkside in 2010 and Epping in 2015 to make the grand final from fourth place. After losing key players in the off-season and enduring a long injury list throughout the year, the Lions had to fight hard just to make the finals. Travelling to Laurimar Reserve in the last round, they needed a win over then top- placed Laurimar to ensure a finals berth. The Lions qualified for their sixth-successive finals series in style – with a 50-point win on the day. They hit the finals with momentum and defeated Kilmore by 32 points in the first semi. In a rematch of Round 18, the Lions played Laurimar in the preliminary final. South Morang led narrowly at every change on the way to a 10-point victory. Tye Hall booted three goals against the Power, but a knee injury saw him miss the grand final. James Hewson also played in the prelim but missed the big one through injury. Despite a brave fightback after quarter time, the Lions were no match for Panton Hill in the grand final. Experienced duo Mathew Robinson and Luke Shelton both performed admirably against the Redbacks. Had there been a prize for best player of the finals series, teenager Mitch Kalpakis surely would have won it. He was best on ground twice and second best the other time in his three finals appearances. He booted two goals from defence in the grand final – as did fellow teenager Nathan Bell. Kalpakis and Bell were both seen a week later when South Morang’s under-19 team had a 107-point win over Mill Park in the Division 2 grand final. This result augurs well for the Lions’ chances to secure a senior flag in the near future
Best and fairest: Tye Hall
Leading goal kicker: Alex Colaidis (39 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Alex Colaidis, Tye Hall, Ben Muscat and Luke Shelton
3rd (14 wins, 4 losses)
Laurimar made finals in only its second season in the senior competition in 2018 and went into the 2019 season with lofty goals. Things were well and truly on track as the Power remained unbeaten after Round 15. But they faced stiff opposition from then second-placed Panton Hill. The Redbacks won their Round 16 clash at Laurimar Reserve by 36 points. Both teams suffered injuries that day, but Laurimar’s were more severe. The Power rebounded to win well over Mernda in Round 17 at Waterview Recreation Reserve by 58 points, but then lost in the final round at Laurimar Reserve to South Morang. They suffered more injuries in that game and went into the finals series without several key players. Josh Williamson did not play after round 10 – but still managed 34 goals for the season, while Brad Deed and Jake Richards were among a list of key players missing in the finals series. Despite all this, Justin Sherman’s team was highly competitive in both their finals. The Power lost the second semi-final to Panton Hill by eight points and then lost the preliminary final to South Morang by 10 points. Under-19s listed player Ethan Frawley was in the best in both games and looks to have a bright future. Captain Mitch Thompson won the Coaches Player of the Year award for the second year running and took on the added responsibility of the captaincy this year, which he shared with Luke Wilson. Michael Brennan – who kicked the winning goal in the Round 4 match against Panton Hill at A.E. Cracknell Reserve – finished third in the league best and fairest with 13 votes and was a major asset in his first year at the club. Assuming they have a healthier list to pick from in 2020, the Power looks set to be a key player when the whips are cracking.
Most times in best: Mitchell Thompson (14)
Leading goal kicker: Josh Williamson (34 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Michael Brennan, William Ratje, Jake Richards and Mitchell Thompson
4th (10 wins, 7 losses)
It was way back in 2002 when Kilmore had last played senior finals football. But the team had been building under the tutelage of Nathan Phillips and made great strides in 2019. A 35-point win in Round 8 over eventual premier Panton Hill at J.J. Clancy Reserve served notice that the Blues were finally a force to be reckoned with. Remarkably, they held the normally high-scoring Redbacks to a mere three goals that afternoon. That win came in the middle of a five-game winning streak which set up their season. The last win of those five matches was a critical victory over finals challenger Heidelberg West at Heidelberg Park. Kilmore clinched a finals berth late in the season and was the only club to have both seniors and reserves playing finals. It was a massive achievement for a club starved of success for well over a decade. Sadly for Blues fans, they lost the first semi final by 32 points on a day when the team didn’t have their kicking boots on. They managed a wasteful 3.14 for the day against South Morang. And their reserves team lost back-to-back finals matches to finish third. Gun recruit Chris Ryall had an outstanding season – finishing a solitary vote behind Mitchell Thompson in the Coaches Player of the Year award and also equal fourth in the competition best and fairest. Ryall tied for the club best and fairest with the ever-consistent Leigh Irons. Meanwhile, Jeremy Topham also managed fifth in the Coaches Player of the Year award and was again selected in the Team of the Year in just his second season of senior football. Finals will again be on the agenda as the Blues look to next season.
Best and fairest: Leigh Irons and Chris Ryall
Leading goal kicker: Jaxson Kinnear (33 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Leigh Irons, Jaxson Kinnear, Stephen McIntyre, Chris Ryall and Jeremy Topham
5th (9 wins, 7 losses)
Mernda lost a host of quality players at the end of the 2018 season. With the likes of Les Adams, Rohan Davies, Krys Douglas, Liam Gray, Jesse Owens-Draper, Marcus Saddington and Adrian Stefanile all departing, a challenging year awaited. The Demons started the year slowly with three losses on the trot, but gradually worked their way into form thereafter. A finals spot looked unlikely at 2-4 but the club then won seven of the next eight matches to put themselves in contention. It all came down to the final round to see whether Mernda would play finals. Its assignment was to beat seventh-placed Old Eltham Collegians at Eltham College and for Laurimar to defeat South Morang at Laurimar Reserve. Based on ladder position, it looked a fait accompli. But the Turtles had been playing much better than their spot on the ladder in the back end of the season, so the match was viewed by tipsters as a 50/50 proposition. The Demons played terrific football and shut out the Turtles after quarter time to record a meritorious 23-point victory. Sadly for their fans, the other result didn’t go their way, with an injury-plagued Laurimar no match for South Morang. Therefore, Mernda had to settle for fifth place for the third time in the past four years. Brad Dimech excelled and finished equal fourth in the competition best and fairest voting, while Ryan Kannegiesser and Tyson Sparkes were outstanding in their first year at the club. Meanwhile, a host of young talent emerged – including under-19 competition best and fairest Nicolas Aleksovski, who kicked 18 goals in eight senior appearances.
Most times in best: Brad Dimech, Ryan Kannegiesser and Tyson Sparkes (8)
Leading goal kicker: Matthew Campbell (21 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Brad Dimech
6th (7 wins, 9 losses)
After finishing sixth in both 2017 and 2018, the Hawks were looking for finals action under new coach Cam van Florestein. The Hawks got off to a flyer with a 5-0 to start the season. Round 3 featured an impressive come-from-behind win over eventual runners-up South Morang. Kyl Ewart booted six and Jack Marris five in the stirring win, where the visitors came from four goals down in the last quarter to win by five points. Regrettably for Hawks fans, the team came back to earth with a thud in Round 7 at A.E. Cracknell Reserve against Panton Hill in the twilight fixture. An 85-point defeat began a five-game losing streak, with the losses coming against each of the teams that eventually filled the top-five spots on the ladder. Victories came against Lalor and Reservoir in the latter part of the season, but other losses meant that the club was consigned to sixth place yet again. But there was one huge positive for Heidelberg West. Their reserves team won the flag – defeating Old Eltham Collegians in the grand final. It was the first football flag of any kind for the Hawks since 1966. Despite not making finals in the seniors, the club relished their rare grand final win. Jarryd Coulson became one of a select group to have won three league best and fairest medals. He joined Diamond Creek legend John Elliot as the only players in league history to win three senior best and fairest awards in consecutive years – this year winning by four votes over his nearest rival. Kyl Ewart is hanging up the boots after yet again topping the goal kicking for his club. With Panton Hill progressing to Division 2 and no team being relegated for the 2020, the Hawks will be setting their sights on that elusive top-four next year.
Best and fairest: Jarryd Coulson
Leading goal kicker: Kyl Ewart (33 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Jarryd Coulson
OLD ELTHAM COLLEGIANS
7th (6 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw)
Old Eltham Collegians were the new club in Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 after crossing from the VAFA at the conclusion of the 2018 season. Despite being in a new competition, it wasn’t completely foreign for all at the club, particularly coach John Garrard – who had previously coached Panton Hill. And, indeed, the Redbacks were the first club to play the Turtles as they kicked off their campaign at Eltham College. It looked like being a tough year for Old Eltham Collegians as they began with a 70-point loss to eventual premiers Panton Hill. But brighter days lay ahead and the Turtles started getting more competitive. Their first points came at Mill Park Lakes Reserve against South Morang in Round 4. They led on the siren, but Lion Nathan Tassell booted a point from a set shot to level the scores. It wasn’t a win, but two premiership points got the Turtles up and running. The long awaited four points came in Round 8 when Lalor ventured to Eltham College. Old Eltham Collegians scored an impressive 44-point win and they were able to celebrate it well – with the next weekend being the Queen’s Birthday mid-season break. The Turtles were highly competitive late in the season and won five of seven games between rounds 11 and 17. This came on the back of being able to get more of their better players onto the park on a regular basis – and the arrival of ex-Banyule premiership player Kieran Malone. Malone managed 34 goals from 11 games and finished fourth in both the competition best and fairest and the Coaches Player of the Year Award. Coach John Garrard elected to step aside from coaching at the end of the year and believes the club is now well placed to improve.
Most times in best: Corey Ray (9)
Leading goal kicker: Kieran Malone (34 goals)
Team of the Year representatives: Kieran Malone
8th (2 wins, 14 losses)
Lalor has spent the past two years in Division 3 and achieved the same result each season – getting two wins and finishing in eighth spot. As the rebuild continued following an exodus of players at the end of 2017, former Heidelberg West mentor Gary Cutler took over the coaching reins from Dean Grainger. The Bloods were no match for flag hopefuls Laurimar in the first match at Laurimar Reserve, but quickly got on the board with a big 66-point win over Reservoir the following round on Anzac Day. That win gave hope of better things to come, but the club was only able to get one more win for the season – again against the Mustangs. Their best chance to claim another scalp came in Round 6 when they led South Morang at the last change at Mill Park Lakes Reserve. But Lalor fell just short – losing by six points. Their Round 16 clash against Mernda at Waterview Recreation Reserve proved to be a thriller. Similar to the match against the Lions, the Bloods led narrowly at three quarter time. On this occasion, they lost by the barest of margins. Given their ladder position, Sam Rexhepi’s effort to boot 39 goals was an outstanding achievement. Ben Curtiss had a wonderful season for the club and has now retired after taking out the best and fairest in his final season. Player availability was a problem for the Bloods throughout the year. They will look to add to player stocks as they aim to rise up the ladder in 2020.
Best and fairest: Ben Curtiss
Leading goal kicker: Sam Rexhepi (39 goals)
9th (0 wins, 16 losses)
Times have been tough for Reservoir since it re-entered the league. The Mustangs won the 2015 Division 3 premiership, but an exodus of players saw them not field a team in 2016 and then came back to Division 3 in 2017. The club has failed to win a match in the past two seasons. David Nelson coached the reserves to finals action in 2018, then stepped up to the senior coaching job for the 2019 season. The best effort for the year was in Round 7 at Crispe Park. Reservoir was level with undefeated Laurimar at the last break but was unable to go with the top team and eventually lost by 25 points. Nelson and the Mustangs parted company mid-season. For the remainder of the year, Peter Bartle and Benjamin Noy took over the coaching reins. Bartle was impressed by the attitude of the players in the time he and Noy were coaching. Samuel McDowell was again the club’s standout player and claimed a second-successive best and fairest. Donovan Stuart and Daniel Sebeh were also consistent performers in a tough campign. Jason Hamilton has been appointed senior coach for 2020 and will be looking for that elusive win and then to make progress from that point onwards.
Best and fairest: Samuel McDowell
Leading goal kicker: Ben Mowlam (20 goals)
HEIDELBERG GOLF CLUB DIVISION 3 – 2019 REVIEW
First Semi Final: Kilmore 3.14 (32) def by South Morang 9.10 (64)
Second Semi Final: Panton Hill 6.12 (48) def Laurimar 5.10 (40)
Preliminary Final: Laurimar 11.11 (77) def by South Morang 12.15 (87)
Grand Final: Panton Hill 11.13 (79) def South Morang 5.9 (39)
Best and Fairest
1st – Jarryd Coulson (Heidelberg West) – 18 votes
2nd – Scott Conte (Panton Hill) – 14 votes
3rd – Michael Brennan (Laurimar) – 13 votes
=4th – Bradley Dimech (Mernda) – 11 votes
=4th – Leigh Irons (Kilmore) – 11 votes
=4th – Kieran Malone (Old Eltham Collegians) – 11 votes
=4th – Chris Ryall (Kilmore) – 11 votes
Leading Goal Kicker (home and away only)
1st – Rhys Boyden (Panton Hill) – 76 goals
2nd – Matthew Byron (Panton Hill) – 45 goals
3rd – Sam Rexhepi (Lalor) – 39 goals
4th – Alex Colaidis (South Morang) – 38 goals
=5th – Kieran Malone (Old Eltham Collegians) – 34 goals
=5th – Josh Williamson (Laurimar) – 34 goals
Coaches Most Valuable Player
1st – Mitchell Thompson (Laurimar) – 71 votes
2nd – Chris Ryall (Kilmore) – 70 votes
3rd – Scott Conte (Panton Hill) – 66 votes
4th – Kieran Malone (Old Eltham Collegians) – 54 votes
5th – Jeremy Topham (Kilmore) – 50 votes