30 games, moments, teams or people that shaped 2013
5. SFL YMCA Monash Netball Finals
If there was any thought of the SFL YMCA Monash Netball Competition being a flash in the pan thing, that was surely eliminated with an outstanding finals series. In its second year, the number of teams increased, the number of clubs represented increased, and the standard of play also increased.
Many pundits still regard the nail-biting Division 2 Netball Grand Final between Dingley and Carrum Patterson Lakes as the highlight of the SFL year, whilst the Division 3 Grand Final (between Lyndale and Bentleigh) and the Division 1 Grand Final rematch (between Dingley and Heatherton) also lived up to expectation.
It's no surprise that nearly every club is looking at entering a netball team in 2014.
4. Murrumbeena Under 19s
One of the fairytale stories of the 2014 season, Murrumbeena struggled for numbers right throughout the season. In fact, there was some debate whether the team would even be able to continue half way through the season.
Limping into the finals with just 18 players, the team was quickly dispatched by Skye in the Qualifying Final by 41 points. Seemingly exposed on the bigger surface of Springvale, it looked inevitable that the Beena would exit in straight sets.
Coming up against a St Pauls outfit in red hot form in the sudden-death Semi Final the following week, the Beena stretched out to an early lead, only to see the margin wittle away in the final quarter, with the team narrowly hanging on to win by 3 points.
Facing Skye once again in the Preliminary Final, the Beena boys again looked repeatedly gone for all money as the bigger ground began to take its toll on the mere 18 players. But somehow, Murrumbeena again held on and registered a 1 point victory. This was remarkable considering they had lost by 41 points to the same team two weeks earlier.
Entering the Grand Final against the hot favourite and last year's premiers Bentleigh, Murrumbeena again looked finished several times throughout the match, particularly when Bentleigh opened up a two goal lead in the last quarter. But true to form, the Beena dug deep once again and found a way, kicking two late goals and winning the flag by 2 points in a famous victory.
3. Doveton Eagles Football Club
The club was almost dead and buried two years ago. Skip ahead 24 months, and the club went undefeated throughout the entire season, capping it all off with a 39 point win in the Grand Final, as well as a Premiership in the Reserves also.
Lead by Paul Davis, the Eagles quietly went about their business, and professionally dispatched of every opponent it faced.
Running defender Mark Mott put the icing on the Eagles' year by taking out the Flack Medal for the best player in the competition.
2. Bentleigh Football Club
Having gone close to winning the Division 2 flag two years ago, Bentleigh slipped back amongst the field in the 2012 season and had to relaunch for 2013. And relaunch it did!
Finishing atop the ladder with 14 wins and 4 losses, the club only enhanced its reputation as it dispatched of Oakleigh District in the Second Semi Final, before eventually (after a hard fought tussle) accounting for Mordialloc in the Grand Final.
Gun midfielder Scott Lawry capped off another stellar season by taking out his second consecutive Bennett Medal (joint winner with Gavin Vassallo) for the best player in the competition.
1. St Pauls Football Club
The doggies set tongues wagging early in the season with some significant signings to add to their already impressive list, including Luke James back from Kilcunda Bass, Jay Bruno from St Kilda City/Sandringham and Nigel Carmody from Casey Scorpions.
Showing their intentions early with a 171 point victory in Round 1, St Pauls looked almost untouchable for the entire season except for when it faced arch nemesis East Brighton, which inflicted the doggies' only two losses for the season. Importantly for the dogs, they took care of East Brighton when it most mattered on the last day in September. Completing the fairytale season, the Reserves too took out the premiership.
It's not always the case that the best team for the year takes out the premiership. St Pauls did just that this year, enhancing its reputation in the process as one of the state's most known and revered football clubs.