THREE central Victorian leagues were on show in late May seven seasons back.
It was May 22nd in 2010 when Bendigo clashed with Gippsland at the QEO in a twilight match while the Heathcote District Football league was off to Bell Post Hill to take on Geelong District.
Loddon Valley was also on the road, scheduled to meet the 14-club Ovens and King F.L. at Benalla.
So with inter-league footy here again looking back we find season 2010 marked the first year four district leagues had been added to the normal 16-strong major leagues VCFL country championships.
North Central was the 16th ranked major league by 2010.
Heathcote, Geelong District, Horsham and Mallee had been given the green light to contest the big titles, and they were ranked from positions 17 to 20.
For Heathcote and Loddon Valley 2010 was a watershed season.
The LVFL hadn’t played an inter-league match since 2003 when it lost to Heathcote at Inglewood: 18.17 (125) to 13.6 (84).
And Heathcote had been out of the limelight for five years. They’d beaten Lexton Plains 22.15 (147) to 17.13 (115) in 2005 when Jim Angove of White Hills was the coach.
Darryl Wilson, now at the helm at the Strath Storm, was the 2010 Heathcote league coach. He’d coached Colbinabbin to three consecutive HDFL flags --- 2002—2004 --- before embarking on stints with the Bendigo Bombers and then Kangaroo Flat.
And Wilson had also successfully coached the HDFL to its 2003 and 2004 wins.
Mitiamo’s Billy Grant (who turned 60 in January) was the 2010 LVFL coach. He was the reigning club premiership coach and had Mitiamo’s Guy Orton by his side as the inter-league skipper.
Interestingly current Superoos coach and 100-goal spearhead Justin ‘Harry’ Maddern of Kangaroo Flat was in the BFNL side seven years ago.
Named on a forward flank he looked more likely to fill the CHF spot. Maddern had booted 96 goals to win the Ron Best BFNL goalkicking award in 2009.
He’d already snagged 45 majors by late May in 2010.
ADVERTISER sports writers Adam Bourke and Luke West --- two of only a handful of reporters left at the Addy these days --- previewed the Bendigo-Gippsland match in their Final Word column, Friday issue.
They named a number of players ‘stiff’ to miss out on BFNL selection.
Heading the list was South tagger Daniel Frew. With five interchange players allowed for inter-league clashes seven years back, they insisted that one of the five spots should have been allocated to a run-with player.
But with Frew not in the 23 Bourke suggested Gisborne’s Casey Summerfield as the tagging candidate.
Another player ‘stiff’ not to gain selection was Storm’s Lachie Sharp. West wrote that Sharp had “been in ripping form” for new club Strathfieldsaye and fitted the mould of giving young guns a chance.
“Sharpie fits the mould of giving inter-league opportunities to younger players,” West wrote.
Other BFNL players a tad unlucky to have missed selection included Square key defender Dale Young, South’s Brady Childs and Kyneton’s Liam Turner (remember him?)
Three players who weren’t considered included sidelined trio Josh Bowe, Ollie Messaoudi and Simon Rosa.
West regarded that trio as “walk-up starts had they not been injured.”
BUT when it came down to action on the day Bendigo and Loddon Valley scored important wins.
Three goals in time-on during the final term secured the Blue and Golds a nine-point win over Gippsland at the QEO while at Benalla the LVFL downed Ovens and King by 23 points.
Gippsland had more scoring shots and more inside 50s than Bendigo in the twilight game and led by nine points going into red time.
But then the Blue and Golds struck. A set shot goal from Shannon Geary (then in the club green and white colours of the Flat) at the 23-minute mark slashed the deficit to three points.
A minute later exactly Steven Stroobants landed his third goal for the night to hand Bendigo a slender lead.
With the home side controlling possession in the dying seconds Maddern was on target from the goal square to nail his fourth major and hand Bendigo their nine-point win.
After the previous year’s win over Ballarat at Bacchus Marsh it was Bendigo’s second straight inter-league victory.
Both times Jeff ‘Joffa’ Brennan was the Blue and Gold senior inter-league coach.
“We used up a lot of energy in the first half setting up that important lead and then in the second half we didn’t push back hard enough to help out our defenders.
“And we couldn’t break the lines after half-time,” he said.
Bendigo 6.6 10.7 11.9 15.11 (101)
Gippsland 4.2 7.8 9.13 12.20 (92)
Goals --- Bendigo: J. Maddern 4, G. Weeks 3, S. Stroobants 3, N. Bell, B. Deuscher, J. Condos, B. Herdman, S. Geary. Gippsland: D. Holt 5, C. Dunne 2, G. Jones, D. Stubbs, A. Burgiel, J. Blaser, B. Coleman.
Best --- Bendigo: N. Bell, A. Baird, K. Robins, J. Geary, S. Stroobants, L. Coghlan. Gippsland: J. Aitken, B. McCallum, A. Soumilas, H. Burgiel, D. Holt.
Derrick Filo Medal for Bendigo’s best: Nathan Bell (Golden Square).
Loddon Valley 3.5 12.7 14.8 17.9 (111)
Ovens and King 4.3 7.5 10.7 13.10 (88)
Goals – Loddon Valley: S. Mildren 9, R. Haythorpe 4, K. Patten, L. Franklin, G. Richardson, A. Chapman. O and K: R. Bull 2, M. Newton 2, B. Bell 2, B. Newton, R. O’Shea, J. Adamo, M. Wright, A. James, D. McCullough, B. Jones.
Best --- Loddon Valley: S. Mildren (best on ground), G. Orton, J. Almond, G. Richardson, S. Turner, L. Franklin, T. Grant. O and King: S. Nightingale, R. Bull, B. Newton, M. Wright, J. Adamo, J. Stamp, J. Humphreys.
Scores from other games, seniors: Geelong District 18.13 (121) def. Heathcote DFL: 11.16 (82).
BFNL under-18s round-robin series: BFNL 9.3 (57) def. Murray 4.6 (30) and BFNL 12.8 (80) def. Bellarine 3.3 (21).
Strathfieldsaye Storm wingman Kellan Smith won the medal as Bendigo’s under-18s best for the series with Castlemaine midfielder Zac Plant close behind.
Sandhurst midfielder Ryley Dickens booted two goals against Murray and five more against Bellarine.
Heathcote inter-league coach Darryl Wilson couldn’t fault the endeavour and effort of his players against Geelong District.
But unfortunately for Heathcote, which registered two more inside 50s than the visitors --- 52 to 50 --- the skill level just didn’t match that of the home league at Bell Post Hill’s Myers Reserve in outer suburban Geelong.
“We just butchered the ball for most of the day,” Wilson told the Advertiser sports team.
“Our forward entries were the ones which really cost us, but also our poor conversion in the second quarter (1.5) really hurt us as well.”
Team officials and media voted the Heathcote DFL’s best player as Mt. Pleasant’s Ben McCleary. He played a mix of half-forward and midfield and landed two third quarter goals.
Adrian Dohnt, one of the league’s three co-captains, was a tireless midfielder and finished with three goals: one in the first term, one in the second and one in the last.
Ian Kay, another midfielder, won plenty of the ball and was awarded the official VCFL medal for his performance.
Heathcote won the senior netball 45-32 but went down 27-12 in the under-17s and 31-21 in the under-15s.
Round 4 BFNL selections: Strath Storm (at Gisborne), South Bendigo (at C’maine, night), Sandhurst, Eaglehawk and Kang. Flat (Princes Park, Sunday).