By Ryan Long.
Finals campaigns across the board and the return of the Senior Women’s program for the Waverley Blues made for a successful 2023 season for the club.
Ladder Position: 2nd (12-6, 143.68%)
Best and Fairest: Dimitrios Roufos
Leading Goalkicker: Josh Williamson
A Division Three premiership in 2022 saw the Waverley Blues promoted to Division Two this year. The side continued from where they left off, winning four of their opening five games.
From Round Two of the 2022 season, the side put together the club’s longest winning streak. 20 consecutive wins broke the previous record of 18 in a row set by their 2005 premiership team. The streak ended this year in Round Four against Boronia but remains as one of the league’s longest winning streaks in recent memory.
The exciting fast-paced brand of football that set up a premiership in Division Three saw the Waverley Blues transition into the new division smoothly.
A few hiccups along the way, the Blues ran out the year after the bye winning four of the last five games to finish second on the Division Two ladder.
Other than the Minor Premiers, the Waverley Blues were the highest-ranked offence, averaging 99 points per game.
Earning the double chance, the Waverley Blues played off against Templestowe in the Qualifying Final where a slow first-half came back to bite the side, losing by 33 points to the Dockers.
A week later, they fell into the same trap in the Semi-Final, 56 points down at quarter-time gave the Blues no chance of a comeback.
Unable to play their best footy come finals would have been disappointing for a side that looked incredibly dangerous during the Home and Away season.
Still a lot to be proud of from a Waverley Blues perspective, with what they’ve managed to achieve in their first year up in Division Two.
Celebrating a big year with the club’s best and fairest was Dimitrios Roufos. Reliable and consistent, Roufos averaged 17 disposals, 6 tackles and 3 clearances in the games that were covered by PremierData in 2023.
Just behind him in the count was Tyson Hale, the club’s most consistent player, 12 times in the best, 18 goals kicked and didn’t miss a game in 2023. Hale was one of three Blues to make the EFNL Team of the Year.
Josh Williamson for the second year running took out the division’s leading goal kicker award. The former Tasmanian kicked 54 goals throughout the year, his highest tally coming against Mulgrave where he finished best on the ground with eight goals.
Chris Duck’s first season with the club was a great success, also making the Division Two Team of the Year.
Reliable veteran Benjamin Turner was once again key in the back half. Last year’s Frank Bibby Blue Ribbon Medallist was vitally important in the 13 games he managed this season.
Best Win: Round 15 – Waverley Blues 15.15 105 def. Heathmont 7.11 53 @H.E Parker Reserve
One of the more impressive wins of the year came at a vital time with the Blues needing to knock off Heathmont to stay in the hunt for a top three position.
The Blues were on fire at H.E Parker, five of the opening six goals created a gap that the Jets were never able to overturn.
Up forward, Daniel Playsted and Josh Walker combined for eight goals while the Blues’ defence kept the Jets to just 53 points for the game, one of their lowest scores for the season.
The win is a crucial one in setting up the double chance.
After a great run at the helm, Tom Langford has chosen to step down as senior coach of the Waverley Blues. Scott Savage has since been appointed to the key club position of Senior Coach for the 2024 season. With what is still a relatively young list, the Waverley Blues are in a strong position to maintain their position in the top half of the ladder.
They’ve begun to re-sign some of their key players on the list including the top three vote-getters of the best and fairest.
One key addition to the list is Jayson Miller, a premiership player in 2022 with the club, Miller returns for the 2024 season.
Ladder Position: 3rd (9-5, 112.66%)
Best and Fairest: Abbey Cerovac
Leading Goalkicker: Elise Hoole (20 goals)
One of the great stories of 2023 in the Eastern Football Netball League was the return of the Waverley Blues in the Deakin University Senior Women’s competition.
Former Kilsyth Senior Coach Clint Martin returned to the Waverley Blues, a club he once played for, to lead the way as senior coach of the club.
Along with Martin came a few key names from Kilsyth including a great of the competition, Felicity Neligan. The ruckman signed on with the club as a playing Assistant Coach for the season. Having a league best and fairest as well as four club best and fairest awards next to her name, she led the Blues from the front.
Eight wins from their first nine matches saw the Waverley Blues as the second-best side behind the undefeated Roos.
They were challenged a little more in the second half of the year and hung onto third spot on the ladder with a record of 9 and 5.
The club celebrated their return year to the competition by defeating East Burwood in the first week of the finals. The following week in the Preliminary Final, the Blues met the Panthers for the third time for the year. They managed to kick their entire score down one end of the ground, while Surrey Park made the most of their opportunities against the breeze to win by 35 points.
Overall, a very successful season for a side with a bright future.
Abbey Cerovac starred in the senior side, winning a club best and fairest as well as a starting midfielder of the Division Two Team of the Year. Coming through the junior pathway, she’s set to be a star for the future.
It was no surprise to see Felicity Neligan dominate throughout the season, 11 times in the best from 16 matches. The perfect on-field leader for the Waverley Blues.
Elise Hoole led the side’s goal-kicking with 20 majors across the season, also earning a spot on the Team of the Year. Hoole kicked three goals or more on three separate occasions.
She was well supported up forward by the likes of Sarah Morley, Madeline Flood and Amelia Bishop.
Best Win: Semi Final 1 – Waverley Blues 4.6 30 def. East Burwood 3.5 23 @HE Parker Reserve
The Blues had a few great wins to pick from, we’ve gone with the semi-final against the Rams due to the significance of the win.
Unlike the previous time the two sides met, the Blues were made to earn their victory in a tough defensive battle. The Waverley Blues led for the entire four quarters, but the margin never extended more than a couple of goals.
Holding on for a seven-point victory, the Blues advanced through to a Preliminary Final, a fantastic result for a club that’s only just returned to the competition.
Plenty to look forward to in 2024 for the Waverley Blues senior women’s team.
Division structures haven’t been released as of yet but if the side remains in Division Two, there’s no reason why they can’t feature in back-to-back finals.
Retainment of the senior list will be one of the biggest priorities over this upcoming off-season.
The Waverley Blues celebrated a great year in the 2023 Bendigo Bank Netball series with two sides making Grand Finals.
In Division Seven, the Waverley Blues Red side celebrated a memorable premiership win against Montrose Thunder. They finished the season on top with 15 wins and just one loss, the same record as their Grand Final opponent. A great rivalry between the two sides, they fought out a close semi-final where Montrose held on for a two-point victory.
A week later in the Preliminary Final, The Waverley Blues booked a rematch with Montrose after defeating Coldstream by ten.
The Grand Final lived up to all expectations, a tight contest that had multiple lead changes. With the game tied in the dying moments, a late goal from the Waverley Blues gave the team a one-point premiership victory. Kellie Harding was awarded the Best on Court Blue Ribbon Medal for her performance on the night.
Gabriella Hatch was awarded the club’s best and fairest, followed by Natalie Demicoli as runner-up. Hatch finished second in the division’s leading goal shooters, with an impressive 262 goals.
Another Grand Final appearance for the Waverley Blues Blue team in Division Eight. They had to come from fourth to make it, taking on South Belgrave in the first week of the finals, needing a win to play in a Preliminary Final. A fast start saw them hold off the Saints, booking a date with Minor Premiers the Basin, the following week.
In a very similar result, The Waverley Blues started strongly and held off a late fightback to pull off a fantastic upset finals win. It set up yet another Grand Final against Montrose. Unfortunately for the Blues, they came up 15 points short but can still look back at what was an impressive finals run.
Leading goal shooter April Turudia finished with 204 goals at the best and fairest for the Waverley Blues Blue team.
The Waverley Blues White side who featured in Division Five this year finished seventh with a record of 5-8-2. Olivia Cope and Samara Lagioia both led the scoring with 109 goals each. Cope finished as runner-up, just behind Mel Newman, the Waverley Blues White best and fairest winner.
Another big success for the Waverley Blues this year was their Veteran Men’s team, finishing second on the ladder, and qualifying for the Vets Men’s Grand Final.
Qualifying for the finals, they took on Croydon North MLOC in the Preliminary Final for a shot against the Saints in the Grand Final. Despite a close encounter in the first half, the Blues took over in the second half, kicking eight goals to zip for a comfortable 58-point win. Marc Watson kicked five majors in the victory.
The Waverley Blues came into the Grand Final against North Ringwood as the underdogs. Despite not kicking a goal in the first half, the Blues fought hard in the third term, controlling the contest. Unfortunately for their sake, they didn’t make the most of their opportunities, inaccurate in front of goal.
North Ringwood kicked away in the final term for a 25-point premiership victory.
Andrew Swain was key for the club across the season, finishing with an average of 4.2 goals per game, and 42 goals from ten games.