Entering the 2021 VAFA Season there was much we didn’t know, about ourselves and about the competition. All of our teams, except for the Under 19s, were stepping up a grade and doing so after a year off. Had we done enough to develop our lists and prepare our teams to cut it at the highest level? Would supporters return to local football? Well after a third of a season we can comfortably say yes!
Our Senior Men’s side have, after a tough first few weeks, started to aclimatise to the level and have delivered 4 impressive wins in a row. We are now positioned mid table and within reaching distance of the top four. Simon Williams and his assistant coaches maintained faith in the playing group and helped them learn from the early losses. We have seen a number of debuts in our senior team, including key recruits Brett Eddy, Jon O’Rourke, Cody Henness and Dane Crognale. However the progress of our younger players has been just as impressive with the likes of Harry Loughnan, Angus Cameron, Giorgio Varagiannis and Fraser Robertson, the latter 2 still eligible to play Under 19s. Our Reserves have been competitive every week and now sit in the four with a healthy percentage. Our Thirds are yet to breakthrough for a win, but have lost some desperately close finishes and we are sure are close to achieving their first victory.
Our Senior Women’s side has, after a narrow first round loss, strung together 5 wins a row and now comfortably sit in the top four. The player turnover in our women’s sides has unfortunately been significant. A lot of our 2019 premiership heroes decided not to play football again in 2021, however they have been supplemented with our first intake of girls from the Caulfield Grammar girl’s football program and some strong recruiting from the local area. Mitch Dupljanin and his assistants have managed to galvanise the playing list and as they are still learning to play together, we have likely not yet seen their best. An early highlight has been the well earned rising star nomination of Margie Purcell. Our Reserves have also been super competitive and also sit in the four.
However our most outstanding side, so far in 2021, has been the undefeated and top of the ladder Under 19s. Many of this side tasted APS success in 2019 and have been eager to return to football after missing out in 2020. A late change in our coaching structure, which while not ideal, has worked out well and Lachie Rayner has been outstanding stepping into the role. The support Steve Kendall, Dan Sherman and PK have provided has also been important and we look forward to seeing how far this group can go in 2021.
After so much change and so many interruptions in the past year the leadership from within the playing group has been crucial in what has been achieved already this season. Will Edwards, on top of his outstanding form, has been magnificent in leading the men’s team and new women’s co-captains Milly Hines and Sheree Peters have been outstanding in bringing a new group of women together. Our other Captains, Drew Dickson, Hugo Gates, Andrea Mills and Harry Neave have been equally important to their sides and I am grateful for all their efforts.
As a club we have been fortunate to weather the lost season of 2020 in a stable financial situation. The support of our corporate and community partners has been important, as they also had to manage through significant changes to their business models, and we are fortunate to have such loyal backing. Just as important to our institution partners is our passionate and paid up members, and we have been overwhelmed with the numbers of the Caulfield Community who have signed up as Centenary Members, Player Sponsors or Club Members for 2021. If you haven’t yet signed, there is still time left and every membership gets a free luncheon and as part of the package. We still have 4 luncheons to go in 2021, including the 1970 A Grade Premiership Reunion on Saturday 29th May. Our 3 lunches so far have had record numbers, spectator numbers have been significantly up and overall it has been fabulous to see so many familiar faces returning to their club, the Fields at Glenhuntly.
Finally I would encourage you to come down to Glenhuntly and watch our young men and women play, as well as coming to our remaining social events in 2021. Tickets for all our events can be booked through our website www.cgfc.com.au (click on the events tab), in particular our Centenary Celebration at Zinc @ Federation Square on Saturday 21st August. This will be an event for all generations of the Caulfield Grammarians Football Club to celebrate over 100 years of our great club.