By Ryan Long.
Plenty of success for the North Ringwood Football Club in 2023, finals in both senior competitions, a Veterans premiership, and a thriving junior program.
Ladder Position: 5th (8-9-1, 92.86%)
Best and Fairest: Michael Locco
Leading Goalkicker: Patrick Rose (21 goals)
A new division for North Ringwood gave the Saints a new lease on life, returning to the finals for the first time since 2014.
Relegated from Premier Division after last year’s two-win season, a young Saints group faced all new opponents. Questions were asked with a slow start to the season, winning just one of their first four games.
But North Ringwood responded well and turned their year around from a potential bottom three side to a finals team. The Saints had a couple of big performances in the second half of the year including knocking Mooroolbark off by seven-goals, drawing with Montrose and beating Bayswater by 14 points in a mini–Elimination Final.
With other results going their way, a finals position was locked by Half Time of their second last game of the season.
The Saints faced off against Beaconsfield in an Elimination Final at Tormore Reserve. The Saints comfortably took home a four-goal win and set up a date with Mitcham in the Semi Final. Despite a couple of close losses to the Tigers in the season, North Ringwood were blown away early after an eight-goal to zip second term in favour of Mitcham.
However, to make it to the second week of the finals series is a great achievement and something that many outside of the club didn’t expect after their start to the year.
Michael Locco’s year in defence earned himself multiple awards including a club best and fairest and a position in the Team of the Year. Unfortunately for Locco, his season was cut short, missing out on the 2023 finals series.
Jack Whelan had another superb year with the club, averaging 19 disposals, 7 tackles and 7 clearances per game in 2023. The inside mid playing a big role in leading the Saints to a finals appearance.
Finishing as the runner up in the best and fairest was Aaron Fenton, averaging 18 touches, seven tackles and five clearances per game. Fenton was ruled out for the side’s Semi Final clash with Mitcham, a big loss for the Saints chances.
The club also got plenty from the likes of Jayden and Dylan Van Unen, Harry Flynn and Ben Livingstone.
Best Win: Elimination Final – North Ringwood 11.6 72 def. Beaconsfield 7.6 48 @Tormore Reserve
A fifth spot finish on the ladder earnt the Saints a finals appearance against the Eagles.
Right from the word go, the Saints led, keeping a two to three goal buffer across each break. Defensively, as they had done all season, the Saints pressure was fantastic, keeping the Eagles to just seven goals, and forcing them into twelve more turnovers.
North Ringwood made the most of those turnovers, scoring 56% of their winning score from that area.
Jack Whelan had another big day out, 28 disposals, 9 clearances and a massive 18 tackles recorded on Premier Data.
Huge result for the club, their first finals win since their Division Two premiership win in 2014.
A lot to like about North Ringwood and their current list, still very young overall.
Such a strong side defensively, they still struggle to put together big scores. Despite finishing fifth, they were the eight ranked attacking side of the division. Patrick Rose looked to be the answer last year, he was solid with 21 goals this season but missed eight games for the year.
Something they’ll want to look at again over the off-season if they are to go any deeper in a finals series.
Other than that, their junior program is the biggest of all junior clubs in the league. A big focus that will remain over the next few years is creating that transition from the juniors to senior level footy.
Ladder Position: 4th (7-7, 121.28%)
Best and Fairest: Ella Rhodes
Leading Goalkicker: Rachel Hoffmann (19 Goals)
Another finals series for the Saints in 2023, the senior women’s side making a second consecutive finals appearance in Division One.
It was a much tougher division to compete in this year with Boronia and The Basin dropping down from Premier B.
For the Saints, they found themselves in a race with the Knox Falcons for the last spot inside the top four. Having lost an early season home game to Knox, the Saints had to cover some ground and win a very important rematch against the Falcons later in the year in Round Ten.
Finishing fourth with an even record of 7 and 7, the Saints faced Park Orchards in the Semi Final at Silvan Recreation Reserve. Plenty of momentum shifts across the afternoon, North Ringwood bounced back from a goalless first term to kick four of their own in the second, trailing by just three.
They managed to stick with the Sharks for another quarter before a three-goal final quarter from Park Orchards saw them win by 27 points.
Plenty of upside for the Saints in a difficult and competitive division.
Another great season, Ella Rhodes finished as the club’s best and fairest winner, ahead of Rachel Iaucone. She was listed as Full Back in the Division One Senior Women’s Team of the Tear, not missing a single game for the year.
Iaucone had a very consistent year with the Saints, ten times listed in the best from her 14 games.
Rounding out the top five were Eliza Wilson, Chloe Rice and skipper Tayla Deane. Rice was also selected in the Team of the Year, six times in the best from her 13 games.
Up forward, Rachel Hoffmann and Eliza Wilson both had a great impact, combining for 37 goals this season.
Best Win: Round Ten – North Ringwood 7.8 50 def. Knox 4.1 25 @Knox Gardens Reserve
The Round Ten clash at Knox Gardens Reserve turned out to be the decider for the final spot in the top four.
Similar to their first meeting, the Saints started well before Knox worked their way back into the game, just four points the difference at Half Time.
However, a four-goal to one second half saw North Ringwood run away with a 25-point win, taking back fourth position on the ladder.
Rachel Hoffmann starred with 4 goals while Rachel Iacuone was listed as best on ground.
The club have been busy this off-season announcing many of their re-signings and consolidating their list for the 2024 season.
In great shape to challenge for a flag in the next couple of seasons. It’s no secret that North Ringwood has one of the strongest junior clubs in the competition and will have those junior girls transitioning into the senior side.
North Ringwood Vets
2023 Premiers! The North Ringwood Veteran Men had a phenomenal year, undefeated in the Home and Away season before winning a semi-final and Grand Final on their way to the premiership.
Finishing on top of the ladder, the Saints earned the right to host their first final at Quambee Reserve. The Friday night clash saw North Ringwood thump South Croydon by 64 points as Leigh Mccombe kicked six of the Saints’ 12 goals.
The Saints met the Waverley Blues in the Grand Final, coming in as the favourites. Apart from a third-quarter fight back from the Blues, it was a strong performance from the Saints who ran out 25 point winners.
Having a great year was Heath Decker, having previously played 150 senior games with the club.
North Ringwood Juniors
Another big year for the North Ringwood Junior Football Club, a total of 26 teams competed in the competition, seven of those girls’ sides. The Saints had the most junior teams of any side in the junior comp, as well as the most girls teams of any club.
North Ringwood celebrated multiple junior flags including the Under 12B Girls, defeating Boronia by 24 points, keeping the Hawks scoreless.
A dominant Under 15A side also claimed premiership honours as well as the Under 11A side.
Ryan Smirk finished up as the best and fairest winner of the dominant premiership side, having 25 votes.