By Ryan Long.
Injuries to key players at the wrong time of year came back to haunt Beaconsfield after successfully making their first-ever Senior Men’s finals series.
Ladder Position: 4th (10-8, 106.65%)
Best and Fairest: Brandon White
Leading Goalkicker: Jafar Occa (32 Goals)
Bit of history for the Eagles in 2023, making their first-ever senior men’s finals series.
Under EFNL royalty Mick Fogarty as senior coach, the side improved off their 6-12 season last year, winning ten games and finishing fourth on the ladder.
The start of the year couldn’t have gone much better, proving they were a contender. The Eagles won four of their first six, their two losses against Mitcham and South Belgrave were both tight encounters.
Their form dropped off in the middle part of the season with a very even division. With a finals spot on the line, they ground out some big wins against clubs around them on the ladder, including Mooroolbark, Wantirna South and North Ringwood.
Their biggest worry heading into the first week of the finals was the injury front. Several of their key players were missing ahead of the Elimination Final at Tormore Reserve. Jafar Ocaa was ruled out for the remainder of the season due to a leg injury suffered against Montrose as well as co-captain Damien Johnston.
VFL-listed Matt Johnson was also out of the side, unable to qualify for finals. Johnson played just the three games with Beaconsfield this year but was influential in all, kicking 15 goals, an average of five per game.
Taking away a bit of their firepower up forward, the Eagles managed just seven goals for the game against North Ringwood, going down by 24 points in the Elimination Final.
Massive growth year for the club, caught with injuries at the wrong time of year, expect big things to come for the EFNL’s newest club.
In Defence, Brandon White was spectacular across the year, averaging almost 25 disposals per game as well as six marks and 8 rebound 50’s. White went on to win the club’s best and fairest as well as nominated for Team of the Year, listed at CHB.
The other Team of the Year representative for Beaconsfield was Jafar Occa. One of the most exciting players in the competition, averaging two goals per game. A huge loss for the side when Occa went down with a season-ending injury.
Co-Captain Damien Johnston was brilliant with an average of 23 disposals, 5 clearances and 11 tackles. Premier Data clocked Johnston at 21 tackles in their Round 13 clash against the Eagles.
Harrison Coe was vitally important to the side in 2023, having a great season in the ruck, averaging 17 hitouts per game. Coe polled extremely well in the league’s best and fairest, with 16 votes, finishing in the top five for the division.
Best Win: Round Six – Beaconsfield 9.14 68 def. Wantirna South 9.6 60 @Holm Park Reserve
By Round Six, both Beaconsfield and Wantirna South were both sitting comfortably inside the top five.
Their contest at Holm Park Reserve was tight all afternoon, the margin at each break in single digits.
Statistically, however, it was quite one-sided in favour of the Eagles, dominating in all the key areas. The Eagles had 24 more clearances than the Devils, dominated centre clearances 11 to 3, won the hit-out battle by 25 and had an extra 127 disposals.
Inaccurate kicking kept things interesting, but Beaconsfield managed to hold on by eight points, securing their fourth win of the season.
Damien Johnston had a day out, 34 disposals, 8 marks, 8 clearances and 166 Ranking Points.
Off Season Focus:
At full strength, this side is capable of being a contender in 2024.
Key Forward and Frankston-listed player Matt Johnson will once again be an interesting prospect. The club would love to get another game into him to qualify for a finals series, a genuine game-changer that might decide how far they can go in September.
Their junior program has been fantastic, their Under 19’s are coming off a premiership, the club’s first-ever flag in the Eastern Football Netball League.
Clearly set up well for the future, we’ve also seen continued development from the likes of Ethan Harris, Sam Mackinder, and both Trent and Tylah Stokoe, so the Eagles’ future is in good hands.
Ladder Position: 6th (4-10, 63.86%)
Best and Fairest: Samantha Wilkinson
Leading Goalkicker: Katie Angelis (21 goals)
A restructure of Division One had a big impact on Beaconsfield in 2023.
Having both The Basin and Boronia drop down to Division One, made finals a tough ask for the Eagles who just did enough last year to move into fourth spot.
With four wins for the year, the Eagles knocked off both Ringwood and Chirnside Park twice each.
Although they couldn’t beat anyone above them on the ladder, they were more than competitive against some of those teams. Beaconsfield almost pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the season at Domeney Reserve, going down by one point after a big second-half charge.
They’ll take a lot of learnings from the season, just their second in the Eastern Football Netball League.
A superstar of the league, Maddison Blackburn took out a second-consecutive league best and fairest in 2023. She was appointed as Captain of the side, having a very influential impact on her teammates around her.
Katie Angelis had a few massive performances in 2023, including her seven-goal haul against Ringwood. She finished as the side’s leading goal kicker with 21 goals, an average of over two goals per game.
One of the side’s most consistent performers was Samantha Wilkinson, ten times in the best from her 14 games. Her improvement across the year was a big plus for the Eagles, listed in the best six times in the last seven games of the season. She was crowned the club’s best and fairest at the end of the year, a huge achievement.
Best Win: Round Four – Beaconsfield 10.7 67 def. Ringwood 4.2 26 @Holm Park Reserve
After a winless start, Beaconsfield were pushing for their first win of the year, coming off a near miss against Park Orchards.
They came out firing in Round Four, 41-point winners over Ringwood, back on their home deck. The Eagles won each quarter, extending their lead at every change, finishing as 41-point winners, their first win of the season.
Katie Angelis stole the show with seven of the ten goals kicked by the Eagles.
President Troy Robinson has stepped down as the senior coach of the women’s side, having coached the side since 2019. A fantastic era with the club, having also coached junior sides throughout the season, dedicated to improving and developing the club’s women’s program.
Beaconsfield has since announced the signing of John Blackburn as senior coach for season 2024. A wealth of experience across playing and coaching careers, a great appointment for the club going forward.