By Ryan Long.
The young Falcons suffered a winless season in the senior men’s competition, relegated to Division Two, while the club had one Netball side advancing through to a Grand Final in 2023.
Ladder Position: 10th (0-18, 44.06%)
Leading Goalkicker: Ben Hickleton, Jack Bateman (11 goals)
Another tough season for a young Lilydale outfit that went through the 2023 season without a senior win.
The side saw a couple of key players move on at the end of the 2022 season, including ruckman Beau Mitchener, inside-mid Ryan McNay and defender Doug Wootton.
It’s forced the hand of the side, having a much younger list than a lot of its Division One opponents. The club have had the opportunity to debut some of its young talent, with strong programs through the Under 17s and 19s.
As expected, it was a tough season on the field. The Falcons had a couple of promising results including a ten-point loss against the Blues and impressive competitive performances against the two Grand Finalists in Mitcham and South Belgrave.
On the flip side, on two occasions this year, the Falcons went through a game without kicking a goal.
Consistency of a young group always going to be a challenge, but they’ll be hoping that’ll be one of the big improvement areas come 2024.
Riley Clausen was a clear standout, averaging 28 disposals and 8 clearances per game in 2023. His finish to the year was outstanding, having 30 disposals or more in five of the last six games of his season. Clausen finished in the Team of the Year for Lilydale, starting in the midfield.
Mitchell De Franceschi didn’t miss a game this year, in the best 13 times, listed as best on ground for the Falcons on five occasions.
Other key contributors include Patrick Klep and Jayden Depace, who found plenty of the football.
Former East Ringwood key forward Ben Hickleton transitioned into his new club with ease, giving the side a focal point up forward.
Recruiting has to be a big focus for the Falcons as they fall to Division Two. Quite a tough division to compete in, we saw how difficult it was for Upper Ferntree Gully this year, losing a few key players as well.
Can’t underestimate their personnel losses this year, many of their experienced players went on to be Team of the Year representatives in lower divisions.
Adding some experience and some height to the list will certainly help. Hickleton was a great inclusion at the end of last season but certainly will need a bit of assistance around him next year.
2024 couldn’t come quick enough for Lilydale who will be desperate to get a win on the board early on in the season to break their current losing streak.
Lilydale had great representation in the league’s Netball competition, having three sides compete.
Their first side competed in the top division. They won three games and had a draw, coming up against the best of the best. Kirralee Luiyf remained consistent across the season, with 354 goals for the year, her highest tally in a game was 43 goals.
For their Division Three team, Lilydale Gold had a great run, advancing through to a Grand Final. They won 14 games for the season, finishing in second place. They were the only side to ever defeat Heathmont White, but they weren’t able to do it during the finals, losing to the Jets in the Semi Final as well as the Grand Final.
They saved one of their best performances for the Preliminary Final against The Basin. They held off a competitive Bears outfit to win by six points, Tyler Drummond shooting 18 goals on the night. She had a phenomenal year, taking out the league’s best and fairest for Division Three, the goal shooter finishing with 272 goals in 2023.
In Division Six, Lilydale Blue won four games and finished eleventh on the ladder. Mackenzie Lee was one of the best shooters in the division, with 238 goals from just 13 games.
The Lilydale Junior Football Club added an extra team this year, now moving to six sides in the comp. They’ve started to rebuild from the bottom, adding teams to the lower age groups, setting the club up for the future.