It's Round 1 and Fitzroy footy is back...
Video by ACU student, Ellie Mitsch
RedRoy Mail has a brand new correspondent for season 2019! Guy Gorilla sets the scene for the return to B Grade, a clash with Old Scotch and the opportunity that awaits a refreshed men’s senior squad.
Season 2019 kicks off for our 2018 flag-winning men with a trip to Camberwell and a clash with Old Scotch, freshly relegated from A grade. It represents a huge challenge for the Royboys, and a great rallying-point for players, coaches and the club in general.
No point dwelling on the turnover of players – this happens in every walk of life. The reality is that a huge opportunity now confronts those ready for the challenge.
Captain Turner and Coach Mahoney echoed these sentiments at the season launch last Saturday at the Bowling Club. Julian referred to the need to attack and embrace the season, and in refusing to let the season run on auto-pilot. Luke was realistic in his appraisal that the season will be harder, but that if we maintain our brand and culture, results will come our way.
Acknowledging the irreplaceability of experience, he is excited about the skill and size of the younger core. He is encouraging this group to embrace the possibility of senior football. Three Under 19s played in last year’s senior flag. Boys can become men in the blink of an eye.
There’s a list of ‘likelies’ ready for senior selection. Mike (Rocky) Humphries and Byron Bushby have fitted in seamlessly down at Brunswick Street. Welcome to the Roys, boys. Will Symons and Emile Pavlich have returned, demonstrating the feel-good factor of the club. There’s a swap of the Baker Boys, Luke for Sam, bringing overhead and conversion skills to the fore. Jimmy Butler, Sean ‘Snake’ Laidlaw, Mitch Bottomley and Martin Deasey have all shown good pre-season form. Rory Patterson is blossoming from the 19s. Harrison Grace has been the standout in the praccies, having debuted in the seniors last year. From my position in the stand against Marcellin, I noticed Gaiter, Toby H-B, Max ‘String’ Davie and Jack Hart looking on, soon to be included in the mix.
The Reserves played with their customary adherence to game plan, run and carry, hit the tackle, win the game. Opportunity awaits these boys too. Never leave the aspiration to senior selection in the back of your mind – it should be a key reason you play. Likewise, the Under 19s and the new Under 23s side, making their Fitzroy debut at Ramsden St tomorrow. It’s hard to mention individuals from the twos game, such has been the turnover. Names will emerge in the coming weeks.
Let’s all get to Camberwell this week with winning intent. Set the season up for the opportunity we have.
Your 2019 captains
Fitzroy’s captains for 2019 have been named and there's a strong mix of experience and new faces in the leadership groups.
The coaching group announced their leaders at the Fitzroy season launch at the Fitzroy Victoria Bowling Sports Club on Saturday night.
The big news was in the Fitzroy-ACU squad with Jess ‘Lenny’ Hayes named as senior captain for 2019, taking over from cousin Gemma Minuz, who has led the side magnificently for the last two years.
Gemma, who has moved away and will therefore attend training less frequently, handed over the title and the number 1 jumper – a Fitzroy tradition for the senior captains – to her cousin on Saturday night.
Gemma will stay in the leadership group as a vice captain, along with Luci Murphy, who'll stand in as captain in Round 1 this week. Last year’s Fitzroy-ACU Reserves Captain, Rachael Telfer, will round out the senior side’s leadership group as she has also stepped down to push for regular senior selection.
Jess said it was an honour and a privilege to lead the Roy Girls. She said she was looking forward to a spectacular season and to working with Gray Barton, the new senior coach. She acknowledged she was stepping in to some pretty big shoes in replacing her cousin, but said she was very lucky to still have her in the leadership group to help along the way. Senior men’s captain Julian Turner also paid Gemma the highest compliment – probably one most Fitzroy people share – saying that she had been a role model for him also.
Mia Sutherland is the new captain of the Fitzroy-ACU Reserves, having just returned from a knee reconstruction. Her vice captain is last year’s best first year player, Freya Shearer, with Shannon Alexander and Cate Rushan also in the leadership group.
Julian Turner will lead Fitzroy’s victorious Senior Men as they step back into Premier B with a young, developing team who he says, “could be anything – we're not here to make up the numbers!”
Julian (pictured) has three vice captains – two-time best and fairest winner Max Ellis, Max Davies and Nathan Ligris. The deputy vice captains are new to the leadership group, but all play strong roles behind the scenes at the club: Ross Borland, Tom O’Donnell and Nathan Jumeau.
In naming his leadership group, Luke Mahoney said if there was a person who embodied Fitzroy, it was Ross Borland!
Jack Atkinson, now also a premiership captain, continues to stand out as a leader in the Reserves' team and he'll have two new vice captains: Chris Brown and Sam Turner.
The new Under 19s captain is Darcy Lowrie, and Tim De Natris will continue at the helm of the Thirds, with both sides looking good in the pre-season.
Photo by Alexa Madden as Jess Hayes was announced as 2019 Fitzroy-ACU Senior captain.
Expect fast, attacking football from the Roy Girls
New Fitzroy-ACU Senior Coach, Gray Barton, will start his senior coaching career in the spotlight tomorrow as he headlines the ACU pre-game lunch and then leads his charges out onto Brunswick Street Oval.
Round 1 is a great clash with rivals, SKOB Saints, having played in the same competition as the Fitzroy women for four years now. The teams also met on BSO last year with Fitzroy-ACU coming away with the double.
Asked what we could expect to see from the Roy Girls this year, Gray told the season launch audience that fast, attacking football, a good structure and building on the team’s tough, uncompromising defence was the plan from here.
With the VAFA’s new double promotion/relegation system coming in for the Premier Women this year, Gray said he was not yet looking at outcomes but really trying to build something new and make improvements each week. “If we do that, the end of the year will take care of itself.”
Luci Murphy (pictured) will be leading the team onto BSO tomorrow so expect plenty of excitement as the vice captain steps up.
Unfortunately, timing was not on the side of new captain Jess Hayes, who is out of town for a family wedding this weekend.
The big ‘in’ this weekend is the returning inaugural VAFA Premier Women’s B&F winner (not to mention Elaine Findlay perpetual trophy winner) Tash ‘Rosso’ Ross-Harris, who is back from her travels and looking fit and ready to go. Teaming up with Bethany West, they promise to make a dynamic duo.
Congratulations to Lucy Kerr, who was selected by the Casey Demons VFLW side during the week, but we’ve got her in Roy colours hopefully for a few more games.
It promises to be a great day of footy out on BSO tomorrow, so even if you’re not booked in for lunch, come down and check out the early season form of the Roy Girls.
Check out the video as the coaches announced the Fitzroy-ACU captains for 2019:
From 1 to 50: pioneer Roy Girl shows the way
Lauren Atkinson is known to many as Jacky Fowler. But as the Bard says, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ and whatever we call her, we recognise her essential integrity, determination and grace on the field.
Lauren Atkinson has notched up a run of firsts on her way to 50 games for the Roy Girls.
She played in the first-ever women’s game for Fitzroy – after attending just one training session.
She went on to kick the first-ever score, with her single point turning out to be the only score the Roys registered that day.
Later in the season Lauren played in the inaugural Hipster Cup, a night game at Vic Park, something she rates as pretty special.
Things have come a long way since those early days five years ago, and Lauren has been there to experience all the highs and lows.
“I just love the community vibe and the rich history of the Fitzroy Football Club,” she says. “It’s also great being surrounded by so many strong, incredible girls, and I like the level of competition.
“I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else!”
We should probably point to some occasions when Lauren has come second, and that’s been when she’s earned second-best-on-ground honours – as a result of being thrown down back to negate renowned forwards. And, it must be said, performing her job admirably, keeping her opponents to miserly totals.
Most of you would also know that Lauren is the youngest Atkinson in the Fitzroy branch of the family and younger sister of Reserves’ captain Jack. And wouldn’t be surprised that, when asked to pinpoint a highlight, she nominates playing with sister Chrissie.
“It was pretty fun getting to play with my sister, especially back in 2016 when we played in the midfield together,” she says. “Other than that, I loved playing with my fellow backliners Luci Murphy, Claudia Bell, Emma Delaney and Lenny Hayes last year.”
Exceeding everyone’s expectations and making the grand final in their second season ever also rates a mention.
“And I’ll never be able to forget everyone forming a circle to cry and sing ‘Torn’ together after losing our final in 2017.”
The origin of Lauren Atkinson’s nickname is shrouded in mystery but one thing’s for sure: however we refer to her, she’ll be one to watch this season as she takes the field on her first foray towards another fifty fabulous games.
Go Jacky Fowler! Go Roy Girls!
The Fitzroy Football Club would also like to congratulate Lauren’s former teammates Frankie Freeman and Susie Worthington who, pending selection, will be celebrating 50 VAFA games when they run out for the North Brunswick Bulls on Saturday.
Photo: Lauren Atkinson, a perfect balance of elegance and strength
So many unders kick off at Ramsden Street tomorrow
The new Fitzroy Under 23s team take to the field for the first time tomorrow, when they come up against Old Xaverians at 11.40 at Ramsden Street, in the VAFA's newest competition.
The Tony Keehan-coached side has managed to get a full team on the park in the shortest of timeframes, with many people around the club working overtime to make it happen. Like she does every week, Director Football Operations, Sharon Torney, has worked miracles and a big thanks to Tim Bell, Michael Pickering and Mel Story who will be helping out with the first outing tomorrow.
The game is the curtain-raiser for the Under 19s, who are hosting Old Melburnians at 2pm under new coach Monty Stuart. Best of luck to all the boys and coaches in the first game.
And it seems the Thirds really did draw the Round 1 short straw; up bright and early tomorrow to head out to Banksia Reserve and take on rival Beaumaris at home in the 9.20am game. They'll be very grateful for the extra hour's sleep on Saturday night.
Photo by Peter Harrison.
President Joan recognised by the VAFA
Fitzroy President, Joan Eddy, was recognised by the VAFA at the season launch at the MCG on Wednesday night.
Asked to offer up the toast to open the season – the first woman to do it in the league's 127 year history – Joan was also surprised to learn she was to be amongst eight of her peers to be awarded a certificate of merit, one of the highest awards the VAFA confers.
The Fitzroy Directors had nominated Joan for her incredible service to community football over 20 years and here is the citation read out on the night as VAFA President, George Voyage, acknowledged her achievements:
"For more than 20 years, Joan Eddy has given selfless service to community football through her involvement with Fitzroy Football Club. From the time Joan brought her son to the Fitzroy-Carlton Auskick at Brunswick Street Oval in 1995, she has led from the front as Auskick Coordinator, Team Manager for Fitzroy Juniors and Juniors Secretary. Once her son graduated to U19s with Fitzroy, Joan became team manager for another two years, Vice-President in 2009, and has been Fitzroy’s universally-respected President since 2010!
"Joan introduced the club’s ritual of acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, officiates their Annual Anzac Day ceremonies and was instrumental in the introduction of Fitzroy’s women’s teams in late 2014."
Congratulations Joan. We couldn't do it without you. Head to the VAFA website to read about the other wonderful volunteers from across the competition, acknowledged for their service and commitment, including Bruno Conti from North Old Boys who was inducted as a Life Member and Nancy McTaggart, recognised for 50 years of service!
Book in for lunch as we unfurl the premiership flags
As if Saturday 13 April wasn't going to be big enough with the unfurling of the Premier C Premiership flags at Brunswick Street, now we need to solve the mystery of the Rouge et Noir Cup.
The first men's game of 2019 at Brunswick Street Oval promises all kinds of intrigue as Fitzroy (in a past life known as the Uni Reds) and the Uni Blacks meet each other for the first time since the emergence of the modern Fitzroy.
Learn about the history of the Rouge et Noir Cup (it could be a bit hazy; has anyone seen it?) and for the more serious football fans, hear from Fitzroy Senior Coach, Luke Mahoney, on how he plans to follow up his victorious first year as Fitzroy Senior Coach.
It is the Royal Derby Round and Fitzroy will be unfurling its 2018 Premier C premiership flags and Uni Blacks will be out to flex their muscle as they seek to bounce straight back into William Buck Premier. It's bound to be a big day, so don't miss out.
Fitzroy is blessed to have the best sponsors going around!
This season they've generously dug into their pockets to show due appreciation of our best-performing players in both the men's and women's senior squads.
For the men, Director David Leydon has joined the Royal Derby, Bontempo Pizza and the Fitzroy Bowls Club who, between them, will be sponsoring three levels of best-on-ground awards.
For the women, Val Allpress, stalwart supporter – of Fitzroy in particular and women's football in general – has joined Bontempo Pizza in sponsoring on-field awards for both the seniors and reserves. Val's generosity has been extended to also support the senior opposition player deemed best on ground when the Roy Girls play at home.
Our sincere thank you to all!
As we hardly need tell you, real thanks comes by replicating our sponsors' generosity by supporting their businesses and helping keep the Fitzroy community strong and vibrant for the good of all!
Latest news on Val
When speaking to her on Friday morning, Val asked us to convey her love and best wishes to all the players taking the field this Saturday. We, in return, send Val all our Fitzroy love and best wishes as she works to regain her strength. Hoping to see you back and calling out ‘Go Redders’ and giving the umpires stick as soon as possible Val!
This weekend's games
Beaumaris v Fitzroy Thirds – VAFA Thirds Division 2 – Banksia Reserve, 9.20am, Saturday 6 April
Fitzroy Under 23s vs Old Xaverians – VAFA Under 23s – Ramsden Street Reserve, 11.40am, Saturday 6 April
Old Scotch vs Fitzroy Reserves – VAFA Premier B Reserves – Camberwell Sports Ground, Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, 11.40am, Saturday 6 April
Fitzroy-ACU Women’s Reserves v SKOB Saints – VAFA Premier Reserve Women’s – Brunswick Street Oval, 12pm, Saturday 6 April
Old Scotch vs Fitzroy Seniors – VAFA Premier B Seniors – Camberwell Sports Ground, Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, 2pm, Saturday 6 April
Fitzroy-ACU Women’s Seniors v SKOB Saints – VAFA Premier Reserve Women’s – Brunswick Street Oval, 2pm, Saturday 6 April
Fitzroy Under 19s v Old Melburnians – Holmesglen U19 Section 2 – Ramsden Street Oval, 2pm, Saturday 6 April