Sport / Football

High hopes at the start

of a new footy season

Players from (left to right) West Brunswick, North Brunswick and Brunswick football clubs.

High hopes at the start of a new football season

Previews of the prospects for the three Brunswick-based clubs for 2024

Players from (left to right) West Brunswick, North Brunswick and Brunswick football clubs.

Friday, April 12, 2024

AWAY from the bright lights and saturation media coverage of the AFL and AFLW exists an entire ecosystem of grassroots football in suburban and country leagues around Victoria. 

Three Brunswick clubs begin their seasons this weekend in the Victorian Amateur Football Association full of optimism about the months ahead. 

For Brunswick, North Brunswick and West Brunswick football clubs, what happens on the field is only slightly more important than the community connections that are built off it. 

To catch the round one action this weekend, head to Allard Park where North Brunswick’s men and women teams face off against Richmond Central and Preston Bullants respectively. 

West Brunswick’s men and women Seniors travel to Therry Penola and St Kevin’s, while Brunswick is away to Elsternwick (men) and Old Melburnians (women). 

Read on for a full season preview for each of the three clubs.

Brunswick Football Club

Nickname: NOBs (men); Renegades (women)
Founded: 1963 (men); 2014 (women)
Home ground: A.G. Gillon Oval, Hope Street, Brunswick
Club colours: Purple and white
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 2; VAFA Women Division 1
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 2: Seniors 2nd on ladder, eliminated in preliminary final; Reserves 4th on ladder, eliminated in semi final. Women – Premier B: 5th
Coaches: Tommy Hunter (Senior men), Ben Daly (Reserves men); Sasha Dougherty (women)
Captains: Ben Wilson (Senior men), Clare Woodhouse (women)
Recruits: Men: Josh Hale (key defender/ruckman from Westmeadows); James Schmidt (returns to the club); Ben Young (ruck from Northcote Park). Women: Sally Elstub (midfield), Emily Weekes (ruck), Romy Madeley (forward)

Nickname: NOBs (men); Renegades (women)
Founded: 1963 (men); 2014 (women)
Home ground: A.G. Gillon Oval, Hope Street, Brunswick
Club colours: Purple and white
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 2; VAFA Women Division 1
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 2: Seniors 2nd on ladder, eliminated in preliminary final; Reserves 4th on ladder, eliminated in semi final. Women – Premier B: 5th
Coaches: Tommy Hunter (Senior men), Ben Daly (Reserves men); Sasha Dougherty (women)
Captains: Ben Wilson (Senior men), Clare Woodhouse (women)
Recruits: Men: Josh Hale (key defender/ruckman from Westmeadows); James Schmidt (returns to the club); Ben Young (ruck from Northcote Park). Women: Sally Elstub (midfield), Emily Weekes (ruck), Romy Madeley (forward)

Men

Brunswick’s Senior men are looking to improve on last year’s second position at the end of the home and away season before they were knocked out in the Preliminary Final. The playing group has had a great preseason with plenty of numbers on the training track. All the players have been hungry to improve and have put the work in to be fit and improve on last season.

Players to watch include midfielder Ben Wilson, a team leader, tough on the inside of the contest; forward Hayden Parker, who arrived at Brunswick last year after moving from Perth, is strong in the air and loves kicking goals; Will Mckenzie in the midfield is a strong runner and strong in the air and also a Brunswick Football Club Junior; and Oscar Watt, a promising midfield/forward who has graduated from the junior program and is coming up from the Under 19s where he was a Division Best and Fairest winner.

This season the aim is to play play fast and fun footy and we’d love the Brunswick locals to get down and support our players on a Saturday afternoon at A.G. Gillon.

Women

The Renegades navigated a challenging 2023 season, commencing in Premier C before ascending to Premier B. Despite encountering hurdles, including struggles with player numbers, the team showcased resilience, culminating in a commendable fifth place finish.

Entering Division 1 with renewed vigour, the Renegades embrace the prospect of a fresh divisional challenge, fortified by a tighter-knit squad. The off-season has seen a surge in recruitment, with a blend of newcomers and returning veterans cementing the team’s depth.

Since November, the players have sharpened their skills and their fitness levels. The Renegades’ roster is characterised by a diverse array of skills and personalities, each contributing their unique flair to the game. However, beyond the individual talents, it’s the friendship and fun fostered by footy that truly defines the team.

Renegades players to watch in 2024 include vice-captain Ange ‘Snowy’ Snowden, a versatile asset capable of excelling in any position on the field, whose fluidity and finesse make the game appear effortless; captain Clare ‘House’ Woodhouse, a formidable leader whose tenacity and commitment are evident in every bump and contested ball; Larisa ‘Larry’ Dumitriu, commanding the midfield with a knack for maintaining possession and orchestrating strategic manoeuvres who is just awesome to watch; and Emily ‘Shady’ Molnar, who whether positioned in the forward and midfield, promises to unsettle opposing defence and bolster scoring opportunities.

Preview by Kelly Dungate (President)

West Brunswick Football Club

Nickname: Magpies
Founded: 1959 (men); 2016-17 (women)
Home ground: Ransford Oval and McAlister Oval, Royal Park
Club colours: Black and white
Teams fielded: 3 Men’s , 3 Women’s
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 1; VAFA Women Premier A
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 1: Seniors 8th. Women – Premier A: Seniors equal 5th-7th on points

Coaches: William Dillon (Senior men); Marnee Silver (Senior women)
Captains: Conor Fowler and Emlyn Nettleton (co-captains men); Sophie Stewart and Kristy De Pellegrini (co-captains women)

Nickname: Magpies
Founded: 1959 (men); 2016-17 (women)
Home ground: Ransford Oval and McAlister Oval, Royal Park
Club colours: Black and white
Teams fielded: 3 Men’s , 3 Women’s
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 1; VAFA Women Premier A
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 1: Seniors 8th. Women – Premier A: Seniors equal 5th-7th on points

Coaches: William Dillon (Senior men); Marnee Silver (Senior women)
Captains: Conor Fowler and Emlyn Nettleton (co-captains men); Sophie Stewart and Kristy De Pellegrini (co-captains women)

Men

After hanging onto our position in Division 1 in 2023 we are looking to further establish ourselves in the division in 2024. Player-coach Will Dillon will be assisted by Polly Fletcher and Regan Tait.

We’ve appointed two new senior co- captains, Conor Fowler and Emlyn Nettleton and vice-captain Jacob Hyslop. David Ferrier will step down after seven years as senior captain.

Players to watch in the Seniors will include Thomas Zafiropoulos, Ben Ablett and Herb Fithall.

Women

It will be a big year for West Brunswick women’s teams, as our Senior and Reserves sides battle it out in the VAFA Premier competition and our Thirds line up playing in Division 4. Marnee Silver, Lydia Holt and Tahlee Thompson return as head coaches of their respective teams, and the coaching panel welcomes assistants Robert Jansen and Sian Heenan.

In the Seniors, Bronte Carlin brings unparalleled speed and accuracy. In the Reserves, Kris Krithararis brings a strong mark and spicy kicking style, while in the Thirds, new recruit Emma Mannix has a hard and determined charge at the football.

The game style is really shaping into one to be wary of, as we aim to bring a bit of spice to the field. With our player leadership team of 12 across all squads, it will be an exciting year ahead.

Preview by Audrey Fithall (Secretary)

North Brunswick Football Club

Nickname: Bulls
Founded: 1959 (men); 2019 (women)
Home ground: Allard Park, Donald Street, Brunswick East
Club colours: Green and gold
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 3; VAFA Women Division 3
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 4: Senior and Reserves Premiers; Women – Premier B: Wooden Spoon
Coaches:  Adrian Sipala (Senior men), Jake Barclay (Reserves men); Frankie Freeman (women)
Captains: Cameron Lee (Senior men), Brad Davidson (Reserves men); Lauren Balcombe (women)


Nickname: Bulls
Founded: 1959 (men); 2019 (women)
Home ground: Allard Park, Donald Street, Brunswick East
Club colours: Green and gold
Competitions: VAFA Men Division 3; VAFA Women Division 3
2023 ladder position: Men – Division 4: Senior and Reserves Premiers; Women – Premier B: Wooden Spoon
Coaches:  Adrian Sipala (Senior men), Jake Barclay (Reserves men); Frankie Freeman (women)
Captains: Cameron Lee (Senior men), Brad Davidson (Reserves men); Lauren Balcombe (women)

Men

After winning two Premierships in 2023, the men’s teams are looking to sustain their success in the new Division 3. With multiple changes from the VAFA in the make up of this division, this looks to be a wide open competition.

We’ll be seeing some old friends in opposition and meeting some new rivals with a variety of form. We’ve had 25 new recruits in the door over the preseason so are looking forward to seeing them come in and make an impact.

Our coach, Adrian ‘Sippa’ Sipala, is feeling optimistic about the team’s chances, pushing the team to bring intensity to the competition from round 1 versus Richmond at Allard Park. Player to watch is Adam Tsadarkis.

Women

The women’s side has had a little bit of a different journey to end up in Division 3.

After, being promoted into Premier B in 2023 on the back of a below average season, the team understandably hit a few speed bumps ending up last in that division. We’re much more confident in this new Division 3 and have had some ripper new recruits down to bolster our numbers.

We’re looking to play some more free-flowing footy to complement our traditional hard at the ball mentality. There is an incredible baseline for this team to grow from throughout the season. Player to watch is Kate English.

Season preview by Caitlin Hennessey (Secretary)

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