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THE VFL YEAR THAT NEVER WAS by KC from Casey


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The rising case numbers and the continuing lockdowns in Victoria and NSW spelled doom for the 2021 VFL season which went through a slow, painful demise before its recent official cancellation. After weeks of indecision, the AFL decided to pull the plug on the season with the 10-0 Bulldogs recognised as minor premier, but without a premiership cup and without awarding the J.J. Liston Medal for the best and fairest VFL player.

It was somewhat fortuitous for the integrity of the competition that the Bulldogs worked their way out of a pickle when they trailed the Casey Demons by 46 points early in the second quarter to easily beat a depleted opponent in their Round 16 match up. Footscray was able to field a strong team by virtue of the fact that their AFL counterpart was involved locally while an extended Melbourne squad (with at least half a dozen spare players made unavailable for VFL duties) was flying up and down the east coast of the country in search of a game. A reversal of that result in the presence of a full Casey team would probably have seen Southport declared the minor premiers with a 9-1 win/loss record ahead of Footscray on percentage.

That would have been a great effort from the Queenslanders but one achieved without a single victory over another top eight team. Southport’s highest placed scalp was that of Carlton (12th) which it beat by a point with a goal kicked at the 33 minute mark of the final term in Round 1. It was soundly beaten by the Giants (8th) - its only game against a team in the top half of the. ladder and it was routinely pitted against the other Queensland teams which it would often thrash. This scenario reflected the folly of trying to run a competition across three states during a pandemic. No offence meant to the Sharks and no sour grapes but it’s just as well the season ended with the Bulldogs declared as minor premiers.

In the circumstances, the Casey Demons were a trifle unlucky. The only loss they suffered other than the one described above, was by a point against the Giants at Casey Fields when they virtually played one man short with Ben Brown rested and exercising on the boundary. They led most of the night but could manage just four behinds from midway through the third term when they led by 22 points. Fair to say, they kicked themselves out of it.

The rest of the season was one of dominance from the Casey Demons which often fielded teams stacked with AFL-listed players. Early in the season, they toyed with all comers including the reigning VFL premier Richmond and North Melbourne who they thrashed by 107 points. Their only close encounter before the lockdowns was a 1 point win over the Cats but they were generally dominant.

Casey’s best and most consistent player was Sam Weideman who, along with Ben Brown, came into the side in round 1 against the Box Hill Hawks after recovering from pre season injuries. Weideman booted seven goals, Brown scored three. The two were on the way to AFL berths and they eventually traded places between the AFL and VFL. Weideman finished with 21 goals from his 6 games while Brown managed 12 in five games including the one where he was sidelined against the Giants. Nathan Jones only played in three games but he was outstanding in every one of them.

Majak Daw was a solid contributor in the ruck but he never got the opportunity to advance to the AFL. Neville Jetta, Jay Lockhart and Aaron vandenBerg formed the experienced backbone of the side while Jake Bowey and Tom Sparrow managed to break into the Melbourne team off the back of some good form at Casey. Fraser Rosman and Deakyn Smith showed promise. Late in the season, we saw some good signs from midseason draft selections Kye Declase and Daniel Turner and it was unfortunate for the younger players that the season was derailed without them gaining full regular match experience at this level.

Of the VFL listers, Mitch White led the side from the front, often kicking valuable goals while evergreen Jimmy Munro never let the team down with his determination and strong tackling. Zak Foot led a group of promising first year players in the team. Key forward Corey Ellison hit the spot with a 6 goal cameo against Werribee. George Grey and Ryan Sparkes had some good moments but it would have been hard for them to perform in virtual understudy roles.

In the end, coach Mark Corrigan would most likely not have been satisfied with fifth place in all of the circumstances after his team made such a dominant start to the season but after all, it was in many ways, the VFL season that never was.

The players:-

Oskar Baker 7 games, 2 goals

Riley Baldi 1 game, 0 goals

Toby Bedford 9 games, 8 goals

Jake Bell 2 games, 0 goals

Jake Bowey 8 games, 0 goals

Austin Bradtke 9 games, 1 goal

Jaxon Briggs 1 game, 0 goals

Ben Brown 5 games, 12 goals

Mitch Brown 3 games, 6 goals

Kade Chandler 6 games, 6 goals

Majak Daw 8 games, 1 goal

Kye Declase 4 games, 2 goals

Corey Ellison 5 games, 7 goals

Zac Foot 8 games, 4 goals

Tom Freeman 6 games, 0 goals

George  Grey 8 games, 7 goals

James Harmes 1 game, 2 goals

Jack Hutchins 6 games 0 goals

Neville Jetta 8 games, 1 goal

Nathan Jones 3 games, 3 goals

Mitch Lewis 1 game, 1 goal

Jay Lockhart 7 games, 0 goals

Tom McCaffrey 2 games, 0 goals

Cory Machaya 3 games, 2 goals

Jake Melksham 3 games, 4 goals

James Munro 9 games, 7 goals

Harry Petty 1 game, 0 goals

Fraser Rosman 9 games, 3 goals

Miles Shepherd 1 game, 0 goals

Deakyn Smith 7 games, 0 goals

Joel Smith 4 games, 0 goals

Ryan Sparkes 7 games, 1 goal

Tom Sparrow 5 games, 1 goal

Corey Stockdale 4 games, 0 goals

Daniel Turner 4 goals, 0 goals

Aaron vandenBerg 4 games, 2 goals

Sam Weideman 6 goals, 21 goals

Mitch White 9 games, 11 goals

VFL2021.png

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