By Josh Ward
After crossing over from the AFL Outer East, it was a solid first season by the Wickers, finishing seventh in an even Premier Division competition
Despite the fact they only won the three games they showed the skeptics that they have what it takes to stay in the top tier of the EFNL.
Will be hurt by the losses of Luke Sheppard & Trent Van Hout to injury, Madison Andrews to retirement as well as his brother Jordy moving to Dromana but have started to make moves to cover some of those losses, with Ryan Bromley joining from the West Gippsland league.
Best Win: Round 3 v Balwyn (Berwick 10.17.77 defeated Balwyn 9.12.66)
Not many go to Balwyn Park expecting to get a victory, but it was Berwick who broke their EFNL duck and got the win after taking the long trek from Berwick to Balwyn.
Many thought the Tigers would win easily, but the Wickers stunned them all, with TOTY forward Harrison Money kicking five goals, as well taking six marks, all of them inside 50 and three contested.
The midfield trio of Andrews, Travis Tuck and Bailey Asher stood out, combining for 63 disposals, 30 contested, 25 clearances as well as going at 66% disposal efficiency.
They didn’t get too many wins, but the Wickers announced themselves this game in the EFNL against one of the best.
Worst Loss: Round 2 at Rowville (Berwick 9.4.58 defeated by Rowville 17.16.118)
Coming off a close loss on EFNL debut against Noble Park at home and with Rowville having the bye, it was Rowville who surprised many and inflicted Berwick’s second loss of 2021.
After losing plenty of stars in the last two years many would’ve thought Berwick were primed to beat the young Hawks. However, not having Travis Tuck proved a big enough gap for Berwick to get thumped at Seebeck Oval.
Madison Andrews was a shining light in midfield with 29 disposals (16 contested), but wasn’t supported, with Berwick losing the disposal count 241-349, contested possessions 98-135, as well as conceding four goals to superstar Rowville youngster Lachlan Wynd.
The next week they went on to win their first game, but it was a shock and a disappointing loss for Berwick against the young Hawks.
Standout Player: Travis Tuck
Whilst Harrison Money was up there, it was former Hawthorn player and brother of the late Shane Tuck Travis who was the standout for the Wickers.
He didn’t set the world on fire, but still averaged 22.6 Disposals, 6.9 Clearances, 4.4 Inside 50’s, 9.7 Contested Possessions & 117.7 Ranking Points per game in his first season out east.
Will have a lot more to carry on his shoulders in season 2022 due to the loss of Madison Andrews, but still had a terrific first season capped off with a spot in the Premier Division Team of the Year.
Clint Evans said recently to Daniel Cencic that Berwick planned to recruit heavily next year, identifying plenty of gaps across the field in 2021.
One thing they will need is a key forward/ruckman, with Harrison Money not being supported enough down there. He may have been the third highest goalscorer in Premier Division in 2021, but their next best was Josh Burgess with 11.
They also only averaged 8.8 marks inside 50 (6th best), 11.2 contested marks (5th worst) and only 28.7 hitouts per game (worst).
Evans also mentioned that they were looking for Midfielders too, which they should be looking for, with the Wickers only averaging 273.7 disposals (2nd worst) and 82.1 contested possessions (2nd worst).
They were on the lookout for a rebounding defender too with the loss of Van Tout but have managed to bring in West Gippsland Football League TOTY player Ryan Bromley from Nar Nar Goon.
It looks set to be a massive offseason for Berwick who’ll look to fill their gaps and climb up the Premier Division table.
In its inaugural season of women’s football, the Berwick side performed quite admirably to finish seventh and with five wins to their name in a highly competitve Division One.
Despite finishing seventh, they were only one win behind fourth placed Boronia with a superior percentage and were in the top four for most of 2021 (bare the last two rounds).
And whilst they lost their last four games, they showed plenty of promise in their first season of Women’s footy and will look to grow even more in 2022.
Best Win: Round 1 vs SBL Wolves (Berwick 6.5.41 defeated SBL Wolves 1.5.11)
In what was the first day for Berwick in the EFNL, it was the women who kicked off this massive day in great fashion, defeating SBL Wolves by five goals at the massive Edwin Flack Reserve.
TOTY forward Courtney De Kroon was the star on the day, kicking half of Berwick’s goals (three) and being named in the best.
Also named in the best on ground was TOTY winger Montana Mazzagatti, Cassie Martin, and Jane Szalek.
It kickstarted the Wickers women’s campaign in brilliant style, adding four more wins following that game as well as putting themselves in contention for a potential finals appearance before the season was cancelled.
Worst Loss: Round 10 at North Ringwood (Berwick 6.5.41 defeated by North Ringwood 4.18.42)
It may’ve been their closest loss, but this began the late-season horror run for the Wickers after going down to the last-placed Saints.
Having defeated them earlier on in 2021 by 41 points down at Edwin Flack, it was North Ringwood who got revenge for that loss despite scoring 4.18 on the day. Youngster Carli Forbes was a major point of difference, doubling her season tally with three goals.
There was a shining light though for Berwick, with Montana Mazzagatti yet again named in the best along with Leila and Jenna Hill, Natalie Henry, Lindsay Tucker and Cassie Martin.
Berwick would go on to lose their last two against Rowville and Ferntree Gully by 21 and 43 points respectively, dropping out of the top four before the season was eventually cancelled.
Standout Player: Logan O’Connell-Webb
O’Connell-Webb was a star for Berwick this year, polling third in the Division One B&F as well as making the interchange in the Deakin Uni Women’s Division One TOTY.
Whilst others such as Montanna Mazzagatti, Cassie Martin and Jane Szalek were also great in 2021, O’Connell-Webb polled 15 votes in seven games, including two BOGs.
The midfielder was superb working alongside the likes of Mazzagatti and Szalek and will look to continue to improve in season 2022.
There isn’t too much need for any improvement, but one thing they would need to do to take the next step is bring in a forward.
They may have averaged 31.2 points per game in 2021, but after De Kroon and Sheridan Holland (14 and 12), their next top goalscorer was Jessica Szalek with only four goals.
If they want to take it up to the likes of Ferntree Gully or The Basin, they’re gonna need a forward who can support De Kroon and Holland.