After the release of the 2016 Senior Fixtures on Friday, Media Officer Will Hunter has gone over each division's draw with a fine-tooth comb and gives his verdict on the big winners and the matches to mark in your calendar.
A very even draw for an even competition. With 10 sides in Division 1, each team plays each other twice at both home and away venues.
Each team will enjoy two weekends off in the 18-round home and away season, with byes scheduled for the Interleague weekend (21-22 May) and Queen’s Birthday long weekend (11-12 June).
Round 1 is scheduled for April 16 – the week after both Division 2 and Division 3 – and will again be headlined by the Grand Final replay.
- Round 1 – Dingley V Mordialloc: One word – HUGE! Given the tight finishes between these two sides last year, this Grand Final replay will be a brilliant exhibition of Southern league footy.
- Round 2 – East Malvern V Clayton: The now traditional ANZAC Day fixture between these two clubs should also be an early test of their finals credentials given their form in 2015.
- Round 3 – East Brighton V St Pauls: These two sides have fought out some classic battles in recent years and will again play off for the annual Foundation 49 Cup in support of men’s health.
- Mordialloc: Plays four teams that finished outside of last year’s finals in the last five rounds. The other is Oakleigh District, who have been promoted from Division 2.
- East Malvern: Leaves Dunlop Reserve just twice in seven weeks between Round 4 and Round 10.
- Oakleigh District: Last year’s Division 2 premier has a relatively easy transition into top grade footy, playing just one 2015 finalist in the opening five rounds and avoiding the all-conquering Dingley until Round 6.
Click here to view the full Division 1 fixture.
- East Brighton: Won’t play a game at Hurlingham Park until at least the second half of the year due to venue upgrade works. Unavoidable, but losing your home ground in such an even competition is a setback. That said, a $2m+ redevelopment of their facilities is not a bad trade-off.
With 11 teams now making up the Division 2 competition (after the admission of Port Melbourne Colts), it provided the biggest scheduling challenge for the League. With at least one bye per week, the aim was to create a balance and make it fair for all clubs.
In order to achieve this, Division 2 will be run over 20 home and away rounds, a move away from the 18-round seasons of previous years. Each team will play 18 matches and have two in-round byes during the season. There will be a scheduled week off for all teams during the Interleague weekend in May, but Division 2 will be the only senior football played over the Queen’s Birthday (with the exception of one standalone Division 3 match).
Each team will also miss out on playing two sides for a second time while three teams enjoy a bye in Round 20 – the week before finals.
- Round 1 – Black Rock V Hampton: The Jets will unfurl their flag in the opening round and should provide stiff opposition to a side that missed out on finals by the skin of their teeth.
- Round 3 – Caulfield V Murrumbeena: ANZAC Day blockbuster between last year’s Preliminary Finalists and bitter local rivals. Expect fireworks
- Round 14 – Keysborough V Port Melbourne Colts: The competition’s newest sides lock horns for the second time in a battle that could impact the top five.
- Port Melbourne Colts: Have the ideal finish to the home and away season, travelling just once in the last six rounds (to Caulfield) with a break in Round 19.
- Keysborough: Avoids playing last year’s Grand Finalist Murrumbeena twice.
- Caulfield: Hosts the massive standalone ANZAC Day clash and their bye in the final round could be very beneficial.
Click here to view the full Division 2 fixture.
- Heatherton: One of only two sides that plays every 2015 Division 2 finalist twice. A bit harsh for a side that narrowly avoided relegation last year.
The addition of Lyndhurst into the Division 3 competition has filled the void left by Southern Dragons, thus creating an even number of teams. As a result, there will are no longer be a bye for one side each week as there was last year.
However, with 12 teams in Division 3, not everybody gets the chance to play each other twice in the 18-round home and away season. This means that each club will play seven teams twice and miss out on a return bout with four other sides.
Like Division 1, each team will enjoy two weekends off in the 18-round home and away season, with the byes scheduled for the Interleague and Queen’s Birthday weekends.
- Round 1 – Lyndhurst V Hallam: Welcome to senior footy, Lyndhurst! The brand new start-up club plays its first ever senior game against neighbours Hallam. Could this be the start of a new local rivalry?
- Round 8 – Doveton Eagles V Lyndale: These two sides play a standalone game on June 11 (Queen’s Birthday Saturday) while every other Division 3 club enjoys their bye weekend.
- Round 18 – Mount Waverley V Moorabbin: A replay of last year’s Division 3 Preliminary Final in the last round? Yes please! Will be a cracker and could decide the minor premiership.
- Sandown: Dream run through the year as they avoid playing three of last year’s finalists (Ashwood, Carrum Patterson Lakes and Mount Waverley) twice.
- Ashwood: Ends the season with three home games in the last four rounds, and none are against a 2015 finalist.
- Hallam: Three Saturday night games. No other club in the SFNL can boast that.
Click here to view the full Division 3 fixture.
- Lyndale: Plays three of last year’s finalists in the final three rounds, two of them away. Ouch!