Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.

There’s a lot to learn at uni


First Saturday in March and the Fitzroy coaches were off to see what lessons they could glean ahead of the new football season

The Roys descended on the pristine La Trobe University football oval in Bundoora last week for their first practice match of the year. Pleasingly there were enough men’s and women’s players to field six teams across three full matches.

The women’s teams played in the morning game, with plenty of encouraging signs for new coach Nathan Jumeau, including some promising new players who will help bolster the team as it prepares for the jump to Premier A this year.

With a combination of seasoned veterans of the likes of Laurin Atkinson, Nadia Conte, Erin Gogerly, Lucy Kerr, Liz Olney and Mia Sutherland (not to mention the welcome return of the elite tall Jaime Nelson and new recruit Sarah Yule), the Roy girls were strengthened with a raft of juniors-turned-seniors in Maddie De Bont, Elise Campbell, Eliza James and Simone Mooney.

And when the unavailables become available – among them B&F Gina Bennett, captain Cass Blake, Alexa Madden and Gemma Minuz, the Roy girls are looking very likely.

Next up was a match featuring a large group of men’s hopefuls. The standard of play was impressive, suggesting that the men’s thirds teams will be very strong tin 2023.

The final match kicked off as 2.45pm, with the ‘Reds’’ (wearing the traditional Fitzroy jumpers and fortified by several backline regulars) taking on the ‘Roys’’ (wearing the gold clash jumpers and boosted by many quality forwards and midfielders). Only a handful of players were unavailable due to injury or other commitments.

It was a high-intensity, excellent hit out and for what it’s worth the Reds got over the line by probably two or three goals.

The best news to report from the day was no significant injuries to either the senior men’s or women’s squads.

As for what senior men’s coach Luke Mahoney would have learned on campus? Firstly, it seems that for the first time in recent memory the Roys will have a large cohort of genuine talls to choose from and to try to juggle across their best 22. The days of the undersized Ross Borland and Jack Hart toiling away manfully in the ruck appear to be in the past.

Secondly, a raft of footballers who have yet to play regular games in the men’s first team put in eye-catching performances. Among them was a bunch of young turks, led by Pasquali Curcio, Miles Nelson, Hunter Staples and teenager Darcy Winstanley.

And finally, how great was it to welcome back a few familiar faces from sabbaticals: guys like Luke Baker, Max Davie, Jacob Long and Noah Wright.

Next up for the men’s squads are scratch matches against strong NFNL Division One team Banyule at AK Lions Reserve in Watsonia. Thirds kick off at 10am with Reserves following at 12 and Seniors from 2.00pm.

Next women’s pre-seasons games to be confirmed.

*Garry Gorilla is a distant cousin of regular correspondent Guy Gorilla, and is named after former Fitzroy champion Garry Wilson.

Image: Some of the young guns progressing from the Juniors (from left to right) Amie Stapleton, Foxy Flanagan, Olive Nicholson and Jade Williams are a welcome addition to the senior Women’s squads

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