Although the Senior Men missed finals for the first time in over a decade, Vermont continued its dominance in the EFNL through multiple Grand Finals appearances in the Women’s, Juniors and Netball teams.
By Ryan Long.
Ladder Position: 9th (6-12, 81.53%)
Best and Fairest: Lachie Johns
Leading Goalkicker: Adrian Kalcovski (23)
For the first time since 2011, the Eagles missed out on playing Finals football, finishing the year in ninth place, winning six games.
It was a difficult year for the club who have recently said farewell to a lot of their premiership stars of recent years including ruckman Liam Wale-Buxton. On top of this, the side faced multiple key injuries that forced the club to play a very young side in season 2022. The likes of Ross and Ainger missed periods of the season, opening the door for new faces.
Despite that, they started the year well, winning five of the first six games, and constantly finding a way to win. However, the injuries began to take their toll and the side lost eight in a row before breaking the losing streak to Park Orchards.
The year certainly didn’t play out the way they would have liked but considering how strong the club is at all levels, it’s likely we’ll see a quick recovery from the Eagles.
Once again, Lachie Johns had a phenomenal year, winning the club’s best and fairest. Johns averaged 28.6 disposals, 7.5 clearances and 5.3 inside 50’s per game, finding himself on another EFNL Team of the Year, listed at Ruck Rover. Alex Greenwood finished as the runner-up in the B&F, eleven times in the best from 16 games. Averaging 23.5 disposals and 6.9 clearances per game, Greenwood had an influential year alongside Johns.
Adrian Kalcovski led the goal-scoring for the Eagles with 23 majors, kicking nine goals in the last two games for the season.
Best Win: Round 2 – Vermont 13.14 92 def. Norwood 12.10 82 @Vermont Recreational Reserve
Playing their best football early in the season, the Eagles pulled off a miracle comeback in Round Two against Norwood. The Eagles gave up a 38-point lead by quarter time, managing just two behinds for the quarter. A six-goal second term saw them cut back the margin back but they still found themselves 21 points down at the final break. Another six goals to one last quarter saw Vermont complete the comeback, a 48-point turnaround win. Andrew Ainger was damaging, kicking three goals after an eight-goal performance the week before. Robbie Ross stamped his authority on the game with 18 disposals, 7 clearances and 6 inside 50’s.
The Eagles will be quick to put 2022 behind them. Injuries became a real issue for the club this year but it was a blessing in disguise to get more senior games into their younger crop of players. They missed plenty of experience that they had over their premiership seasons in recent years, also missing a lot of depth in the forward fifty, only having one player kick more than 20 goals in 2022.
The club have addressed this, adding a bit of experience to their list with former premiership Eagle Matt Wilcocks returning to Vermont, who will be used as a key position player at either end of the ground. Also returning home is Daniel Neilson, returning to the club he played his juniors at after eight years with North Melbourne and Werribee. A perfect inclusion, adding some extra height and another forward.
Vermont has been the most successful team in the league for a reason. In the rare years that they’ve missed finals, they’ve been quick to bounce back. Expect that to be the same here.
Ladder Position: 4th (8-6, 113.59%)
Best and Fairest: Maddie Johns
Leading Goalkicker: Sarah Gartland (17)
Competing in the Premier Division of the Women’s competition, the Eagles had another strong year, making the finals, and finishing fourth on the ladder.
Apart from two losses to the Eastern Devils, the side had a near-perfect start to the season, winning five games, and knocking off two finals contenders in South Croydon and Mount Evelyn.
Throughout the second half of the year, they dropped some important key games which saw Vermont slip to fourth on percentage at the end of the Home and Away season. In the first week of the finals, the Eagles faced South Croydon at HE Parker Reserve. Unfortunately for the club, the Dogs led at every change to eventually sneak home by 13 points.
Vermont had three players make the EFNL Team of the Year for Premier Division, Abbey Rutherford, Madeline Johns and Kristen Johns.
Maddie Johns was listed as the Captain of the Team of the Year side, also winning Vermont’s best and fairest, just ahead of teammate Danni Sheppard. Abbey Rutherford was named at ruck in the Team of the Year while Kristen Johns also featured in the team after being named in the best seven times.
In front of goal, Sarah Gartland was a key figure, kicking 17 goals from 13 matches.
Best Win: Round 5 – Vermont 6.7 43 def. South Croydon 6.2 38 @Vermont Recreational Reserve
The Eagles had some impressive victories in the first half of the year. That included their round five thrilling five-point win over the future Grand Finalists, South Croydon. The game remained close in the first half before Vermont stretched their lead out to three goals, keeping the Dogs goalless in the third term. The last quarter finished excitingly with the accurate South Croydon side piling on three last-quarter goals to get within a goal. Under pressure, the Eagles held on for a memorable victory.
As one of just six teams to feature two sides in the senior women’s competition, Vermont is set up well for the future. They did fall behind the top three sides in the second half of the year. However, they have a great women’s program with plenty of youth coming up the grades in the Juniors. Expect the Eagles only to improve further from here.
Vermont Womens (Reserves)
Ladder Position: 1st (10-2, 560%)
Best and Fairest: Romanie Barnes
Leading Goalkicker: Holly Flanagan (19)
The perfect ending to the season for the Vermont Reserves team, winning the Division Four Women’s premiership.
The Eagles were the standout team in the competition, winning ten out of their 12 home and away season matches to finish on top of the ladder at the end of the season. The side was the number two ranked attacking side and the number one defensive side, giving away an average of only 14 points per game.
In the first week of the finals, they faced off against the Eastern Devils, one of just two teams to defeat them during the season. They did the job comfortably, setting up a 19-point win, and keeping the Devils goalless in the opening three quarters. They were destined to meet again two weeks later in the Grand Final decider. In a much tighter contest, Vermont held on for a four-point victory, taking home the premiership cup.
Winning the club’s best and fairest for the Eagles Reserves team was Romanie Barnes, she starred all season, finding herself in the side’s best nine times from ten matches. Runner Up in the vote count was Nicola Junginger, in the best seven times, also going on to win the league best and fairest for Division Four. Also having a great year in front of goals was Holly Flanagan, finishing with 19 for the season, the second-highest goal scorer in the division.
Best Win: Grand Final – Vermont 5.2 32 def. Eastern Devils 4.4 28 @HE Parker Reserve
Two weeks after defeating the Devils in the Semi-Final, the sides met again on Grand Final Day at the same venue. The Eagles got the early jump with the first two majors before the Devils worked their way back into the game, jumping out to a six-point lead at Half Time, kicking three in a row. The second half was a tight contest with both sides going goal for goal. A last quarter goal by Matilda Birkett put Vermont back in front where they managed to hold on defensively in the last ten minutes of the game to win by just four points in a nail-biter. Marissa Lee celebrated the premiership with the blue ribbon medal for best on the field.
A fantastic achievement for Vermont and a credit to the women’s program they’ve been able to build over the years.
Having the ultimate success of a premiership, the reserves side could certainly win another one next year depending on how the division structure shakes out. As mentioned earlier, their senior women’s program will only improve from here on out with the juniors coming through.
Vermont Eagles Gold (Section Two)
Ladder Position: 2nd (13-3, 153.62%)
Big year for the Eagles Gold netball side, winning 13 games to finish second on the ladder at the end of the season. Finishing behind Coldstream, the two sides faced off in the Semi Final where a one-point Eagles win gave the club its third win over the Cougars and secured their Grand Final spot. Unfortunately for Vermont, they met Coldstream two weeks later in the Grand Final, this time, going down by four points. Ella Tweedale finished the year on top of the division’s goal shooting with an impressive 349 goals. Hayley O’Neill capped off a great year with a club best and fairest while also being named as the side’s best player in the finals series.
Vermont Eagles White (Section Three)
Ladder Position: 4th (12-5, 123.56%)
Vermont’s second netball side also featured in the finals this year, finishing fourth on the ladder with a record of 12 and 5. They took East Ringwood in the first week of the finals but fell short by eight points to the eventual premiers. Georgia Fuller top scored for the Eagles White with 167 goals while Mia Stoikos won the club’s best and fairest.
Vermont Eagles Purple (Section Five)
Ladder Position: 1st (14-2, 175.76%)
A dominant year for the Eagles Purple side, finishing on top of the ladder as Minor Premiers before going on to win the Section Five premiership. Earning the double chance, they took on Chirnside Park in the first Semi Final, winning comfortably by nine points. Two weeks later, the Eagles met Upper Ferntree Gully in the Grand Final decider. The Eagles cruised to an eight-point win, taking home the premiership. Bella Tuohy had a standout year, winning the club’s best and fairest while Georgia Di Paolo stood up in the finals to be awarded the side’s best finals player.
With one of the stronger Junior programs in the league, the junior club had 23 sides compete in the purple and gold this season. Of that, they had plenty of success, making six Grand Finals in the junior boys where they won six of them including the Under 17’s Premier Division Grand Final win over Blackburn. Meanwhile, in the Junior Girls, Vermont also made the Under 18 Premier Division Grand Final, falling short against Mount Evelyn.
The Junior club also had multiple league best and fairest winners in several divisions. Oliver Horlock, Adam Boler, Oscar Cafiso, Charlie Hanley, and Jack Zammit all won league b&f’s in their divisions for the boys while Miranda Rowley won the Under 18 Premier Girls league best and fairest.
The senior club will be looking forward to seeing their juniors continue to develop as they rise through the divisions.