The 2021 VAFA season is officially cancelled. We're devastated that our teams have not been able to complete their seasons and finals campaigns, but we understand the position we're in and the need to keep our community safe.
This decision was not made lightly and we thank the VAFA for all their work in trying to navigate another extremely difficult year.
Now the season has officially concluded, the RedRoy Mail will move to a monthly update.
We'll be back in 2022, and can't wait to get out there with our Fitzroy community in full force.
Stay safe Roys family.
Save the date! The Redlow is going digital
The 2021 Redlow will take place online on Thursday 30 September at 6.30pm.
While we're sad not be to be able to celebrate together in person, we want to ensure we highlight all we've achieved in another challenging year, and online is the best and safest way to do so right now.
We'll send further details about the event and how to register soon. For now, make sure you keep the night free!
U19s season review
By Under 19s coach Silvano Inserra
I’ve been trying to put a bow around the 2021 season, pack it away, hand back the footies, wash the training vests, stack the cones. But I just can’t do it!
In life when things come to an end, there is usually time to prepare, to think, to act in order to bring some closure to a chapter, in our case, the 2021 football season. Then come the rituals…. Some form of celebration or commiseration, bringing people together to reminisce, to connect for the last time before we get back on with life.
As a coach, it’s my role to pack things up for our group, to say thanks to those who have contributed to the season that was, to sit with the team and reflect on the 2021 season. This year is different.
The abrupt stop to the season found us living in hope for one more opportunity to train, then play. To give our last effort knowing that it would be our final game. Allowing us an opportunity to give our all, one more time. To appreciate and savour the moment.
Obviously, this has not been the case.
What this 2021 season has highlighted is the preciousness of the moment. My boys know I’ve been banging on about this all season. To appreciate and live the moment, for just as soon as it is upon us, it is gone. To live for today as we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
The beauty of the sport we play, at the Club we love, is that we always have a next week, giving us the opportunity to make amends, to improve, to strive to be a better version of ourselves and face a new opponent shoulder to shoulder with our teammates. It’s probably the only time in our lives when we can do this. In a game of footy, we experience all the emotions of life in 100 minutes. However, unlike life, during this time we have 21 teammates right in there with us, there to pick us up, to wave the flag, to give for you and in turn you give back.
Then in a moment this stops, we are again thrown into isolation, separation and we desperately hope for that one more moment to connect, to be a group. We try to replicate it with online chats, but it’s simply not the same. All we want is that chance to play one last time. And then to be able to say our thanks to all who have made this season happen, to fellow players, to the Board and the many volunteers who give so much of themselves to allow us to do what we love.
So here I am, trying to put in the box the pieces of 2021. To pick these pieces up and neatly stack them in the box, to seal the lid on it and pack it away.
I would like to thank Joan and the Board for their unwavering support of all the teams and recognise the amount of extra work that has been done to ensure we could train and play safely.
Big thanks go to Kathy Curcio, our Team Manager (and Giorgio). Kathy has done an outstanding job in organising our rabble each Saturday. Kane’s support as assistant coach and commitment has been above and beyond and I am extremely grateful.
To the playing group, our Fitzroy Under 19s for 2021, it’s been a season like no other. It has been an honour to coach each of you. You have demonstrated the desire to give all you have both on the training track and on game day. Your enthusiasm and energy has made a difficult year that much more enjoyable. So, thank you.
What this group of young men have demonstrated is character. After a slow start to the season (from a win/loss perspective), a long injury list and the disruption to the continuity of the season, their commitment to work hard, develop their skills, grow their football connections, increase fitness and execute the game plan resulted in enjoying some success and confidence building. Our best is/was good enough to compete with the very best in our competition.
The Fitzroy Football Club’s future is in the hands of these young men. They are a group of fine young men of good character and can play some exciting football. I look forward to seeing what they achieve next season, on the field and off.
Hopefully we can connect as a Club, in-person again, before too long to celebrate the season that was and show our appreciation to those who have made this season happen.
So, Sharon, I am ready to hand back the footies now.
Thank you Bronte Ryan
After the Club's detailed post-season review process, it has been determined that Bronte Ryan will step down as Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women's coach.
The Club thanks Bronte for all her efforts in Season 2021, a challenging season navigating strict COVID-19 protocols, multiple lockdowns and still taking our Senior Women to finals. Bronte brought a great energy to the Roys, and as the Club finalises its new strategic plan, the Board found the need to implement a new direction to ensure the future success of the women's program.
We wish Bronte well in all her future endeavours and look forward to seeing her at Roys games in the future when we can get back to the footy.
Thank you Bronte.
New FFC x League Tees collaboration!
We are very excited to team up with the awesome League Tees to create some more Fitzroy supporter shirts to get you through summer!
Our latest collaboration with League Tees has just dropped with a classic design in both red and blue.
Be sure to grab yourself a classic FFC tee to support the Roys in style with sales helping to support the Club.
Thanks League Tees for continuing to work with us and supporting community sport!
Fitzroy coaches: the 1980s
By David Leydon
We continue our series of looking back at Fitzroy coaches of the past this week as we examine the leaders of the 1980s.
After some sizeable gains in 1979 where coach Billy Stephen took the club to its first finals in 19 years he handed over the reins to Carlton legend and recently retired Fitzroy player Robert Walls at the end of the 1980 season.
ROBERT WALLS Fitzroy Coaching record 1981—1985 Games: 115, Won: 60, Drawn: 1, Lost: 54, Finals: 5
Coach Robert Walls lays down the law at an early ‘80s training session at the Junction Oval
When Robert Walls took over as coach of Fitzroy in 1981, his resume as a player was extensive and successful. 218 games with 367 goals plus 3 Premierships in 1968, 1970 and 1972 at Carlton followed by a further 41 games and 77 goals in his final two playing seasons at Fitzroy.
A team in 1981 that already featured Garry Wilson, Ron Alexander, Bernie Quinlan, Micky Conlan, David McMahon and Laurie Serafini and would add over the next year or two players like Matt Rendell, Paul Roos, Richard Osborne and Gary Pert, was clearly something for the new coach to work with and expectations were high amongst Roys supporters.
Walls didn’t disappoint as he instilled a toughened discipline within the playing group together with some innovative game plans that had opposition teams scratching their heads. It was under Robert Walls that Fitzroy developed the kick-in huddle. For years in the VFL, after the opposition team scored a behind, the full back would take the kick-in and usually kick it long to his ruckman. Fitzroy implemented a strategy whereby the players would huddle around centre half back and then all take off in different directions making it harder for the opposition to man up and thereby creating space and a quick transition of the ball out of the backline. Versions of this strategy became commonplace in the years that followed, but in 1981 it was ground breaking and paid real dividends for the Roys.
Fitzroy were back in the September action in 1981. We won the Elimination Final in a tight and absorbing contest over Essendon by 15 points at VFL Park. The next week we went to the MCG for the Semi Final against Collingwood. After a terrible first half in which Collingwood dominated, Fitzroy found themselves 38 points down at half time and seemingly gone for all money. Then the Roys turned it around and kicked six goals in the third quarter and seven goals in the last quarter to hit the front with just minutes left to play. Our hearts were broken when with less than a minute remaining, Collingwood goaled and held on to win by a point.
1982 saw us frustratingly tread water and finish just out of the finals race in 6th spot. 1983 was the year we should have won the Premiership, and is still looked back upon by Lions supporters as the one that got away. An example of how good this team was came in Round 13 of 1983 when North Melbourne were sitting top and Fitzroy were second on the ladder and the two teams met at the Junction Oval in a hugely anticipated clash. When the final siren sounded, Fitzroy had triumphed by an incredible 150 points over the top team. It was simply awesome football to watch.
The Roys played in the Qualifying Final in the first week of September against the finals-hardened Hawthorn team. At the start of the last quarter, Fitzroy seemed well out of contention as Hawthorn had opened up a four goal lead. Coach Walls refused to accept any notion of defeat and stirred the Royboys up to deliver an amazing last quarter comeback. Bernie Quinlan kicked five goals in that final quarter to take his tally to eight for the game and it was only a very controversial umpiring decision paid for deliberate out of bounds late in the game that allowed Hawthorn to goal and snatch the game.
Our season came to an abrupt end the next week when a combination of injury and a young Essendon team on the rise stopped us in the Semi Final. Robert Walls ensured the team quickly re-grouped in 1984 and we made the September action again but lost to Collingwood in the Elimination Final.
After a frustrating year in 1985 where not a lot seemed to go right for the team and we missed the finals, Robert Walls finished his coaching tenure at Fitzroy and eventually moved back to coach Carlton.
DAVID PARKIN Fitzroy Coaching record 1986—1988 Games: 69, Won: 30, Lost: 39, Finals: 3
Former Hawthorn premiership player and coach and Carlton premiership coach, David Parkin took over from Robert Walls in 1986 and had immediate impact in his first season.
After struggling to find consistent form throughout the season, the Roys rallied late in the year and a memorable last round victory over the Sydney Swans at Victoria Park secured us an Elimination Final berth against two-time reigning premiers Essendon the next week.
It was that 1986 Elimination Final that many supporters recall as their greatest Fitzroy memory ever. A wet, soggy, miserable afternoon at VFL Park which had been a topsy turvy affair on the scoreboard for much of the day had began to turn sour for Roys supporters late in the game. It looked like Essendon were going to hold on to their five point lead in the difficult conditions with just a minute left on the clock.
Enter Micky Conlan.
With the ball seemingly stuck on the wing of the huge VFL Park, a mis-kick found its way to Essendon’s Mike Richardson who took the ball and started running with it. Paul Roos immediately recognised that Richardson always ran to his right hand side as he rarely used his left foot. In going right with Richardson, Roos cut him off and nailed him in a superb tackle. The free kick was awarded and Roos, without delay, shot a hand ball to a running Leon Harris who baulked around one opponent and then another, looking up to see Micky Conlan in the pocket—on his own. The Harris pass hit Mick on the chest and he turned and ran for goal. BANG! Goal to Fitzroy and incredibly we were in front by one point.
When the siren sounded a minute later, an unbelievable feeling of elation and emotion swept through Fitzroy supporters that has lasted with many of us for the last 35 years!
The next week was again an incredible final and this time the Roys knocked off the Sydney Swans at the MCG by just five points. We were on our way to a Preliminary Final.
Unfortunately for the team a large number of key players were carrying injuries by the third week of the finals including Bernie Quinlan, Matt Rendell and Paul Roos which hampered our chances in the big game against Hawthorn. We kicked the first couple of goals and it looked like anything was possible until the Hawks got the better of us and ended our campaign.
A good start to the ’87 season quickly fell apart and after an unsuccessful 1988 season, David Parkin resigned as coach. In the years after his time with Fitzroy, Parkin has, on a number of occasions, referred to the Roys and in particular the 1986 season and all the emotion that surrounded it, as one of his favourite years in football.
ROD AUSTIN Fitzroy Coaching record 1989—1990 Games: 44, Won: 19, Lost: 25.
When he took over in 1989, Rod “Curly” Austin became the fourth former Carlton alumni—after Graham Donaldson, Robert Walls and David Parkin—to coach Fitzroy since 1970.
The team was in somewhat of a re-building phase but had a strong core of players based around established stars in Pert, Roos, Osborne and Rendell and the emerging Darren Kappler, Matthew Armstrong, Alastair Lynch and Paul Broderick which continued to make us very competitive on-field.
Austin took us to very credible 6th spot on the ladder in 1989, just one game out of a finals spot (these were the days of the final five). 1989 also saw the Roys Reserves team win a memorable come-from-behind premiership against Geelong, so the strength of the young players in that side combined with the strong performances of the senior team in ’89 had our hopes high in 1990.
Unfortunately our stocks sank badly in 1990 with just seven wins and by season's end against a backdrop of continuing off-field financial turmoil and the first signs of key players departing for other clubs, Rod Austin was not appointed for a third season.
Next time we look at our last coaches of the VFL / AFL era in Fitzroy – coaches of the 1990s.
Good luck Brisbane Lions!
We wish the Brisbane Lions all the best as they continue their finals campaign in a Semi Final against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night!