By Ryan Long.
It was a year that didn’t go to play for the Croydon senior side, falling victim to Division One’s double relegation, whilst the club’s Netball side finished on top of the Division One ladder to make this year’s Grand Final.
Ladder Position: 9th (5-13, 72.98%)
Leading Goal kicker: Riley Costantino (31 goals)
A season that quickly fell apart for the Blues saw the club relegated to Division Two, the first time the club has ever dropped to the third level of senior footy.
It was a combination of a slow start and player travel that came back to bite the Blues this year. After defeating Lilydale in unconvincing fashion in the season opener, Croydon went on to lose the next six games on the trot.
Due to double relegation this year, they were always in the hot seat to go down a division, and a late run in the second half of the year wasn’t enough to get them out of trouble due to a poor percentage.
They did however manage to pull off some big wins in the second half of the year, knocking off the likes of Montrose and Wantirna South.
An eight-goal to zip first-half against Bayswater in Round 15 also knocked their rivals out of the finals run late in the season.
This yea marked the end of Morris D’Alessandro’s time at Croydon, his sixth and final year with the Blues, resigning from his role before the conclusion of the season.
Having a phenomenal year in 2023 was Matt McKenzie. The midfield jet averaged 26 disposals, 6 marks and 5 clearances per game in 2023, making the Division One Team of the Year.
Joining him was Fraser Smith. A great year in defence, averaging 20 disposals, 7 Rebound 50s and 7 marks, earning his TOTY spot in the back pocket, also reaching the 100-game milestone in 2023.
Riley Costantino was the key target up forward for the Blues, finishing as their leading goal kicker with 31. A strong final month of the season saw him kick 11 goals in the last four rounds, another Team of the Year representative.
Best Win: Round Eight – Croydon 14.17 101 def. Montrose 13.12 90 @Montrose Recreation Reserve
Huge win for the Blues, taking down a premiership contender to snap a seven-game losing streak.
In what was a spirited performance, the Blues put together their highest score of the season. Croydon had nine individual goal-kickers across the afternoon, with Riley Britton and Bailey Dmonte both finishing with three goals each.
The game had multiple lead changes including in the last quarter, but Croydon wrestled back control kicking five goals in the final term to run over the Dees.
A much-needed win for the club, snapping their losing streak for their second win of the season.
The big change is the addition of Rhett Jordon, taking over the role of senior coach at Croydon, transferring across from Norwood.
One of the biggest issues has been their forward-line presence. Just once did they hit triple-digits, tracking a similar trend to the 2022 season.
Adding Rhett Jordon as their playing coach will certainly make a difference. A key position player, Jordon kicked 32 goals this season with Premier Division club, Norwood. Very valuable on and off the field, having previously captained Norwood, and playing over 150 games at the premier division club.
Croydon have also added to their ruck stocks, signing Darcy Yule. A versatile ruckman, standing at 203 centimetres, to work alongside their current midfield group.
Underachieved in 2023, now in a lower division, the Blues should be setting the bar high and setting themselves up for a big year. Their Under 19’s had a great year, making the Division One Grand Final so expect a few to push their way into senior selection next year.
Croydon went one better in the Division One Bendigo Bank Netball series this year, making a Grand Final.
The club possesses one of the strongest lists in the competition, having made a Preliminary Final last year after a top-two finish.
Alongside East Ringwood and East Burwood, they quickly became one of the favourites for the 2023 Division One premiership.
Tightly contested at the top of the ladder, East Burwood and East Ringwood drew twice in the home and away season, while Croydon finished two games clear on top with a record of 15-2.
As Minor Premiers, the Blues played in the first week of the finals against East Ringwood in yet another tight encounter. The Roos pinched a win by a point in the final minutes, forcing the Blues to play off in a Preliminary Final for the second year running.
The Blues trailed for most of the match, going into the final quarter five points down to East Burwood. Turning it on late, they managed to pip the Rams by a single goal. The score line of 51-50, the same as the week prior, this time in favour of the Blues. Scoring was well spread out for the Blues, with Ellarnah Hanlen, Tayla Burrell and Emma Hayes combining for 51.
A week later, they re-met East Ringwood in the Grand Final. Despite a strong performance, the Blues fell away late, losing by 7 points.
Croydon had two members of their side that made the Team of the Year, Annie Hannah, listed at Gold Defence, and Celine Dodd. Hannah took out the club’s best and fairest as well as the side’s best finals player.
The Croydon Junior Football Club consolidated their numbers again in 2023, with five teams competing in the boys’ competition.
Their best performing side was in the Under 11 B competition where they made a Grand Final after a 13-1 season. The Blues came short on Grand Final day, losing to the Glen Waverley Rovers by 18 points.