Year in Review - Top 20 Stories of 2015 (Part 2)

Season 2015 is a year that will not soon be forgotten. It was a year of many firsts for the League and a number of huge stories dominated the headlines. Media Officer Will Hunter has reviewed the season by counting down the year's 20 biggest headlines, and today he concludes his countdown with the top 10 biggest SFNL stories of 2015.


10 - Southern Girls Take on Northern League’s Best

The SFNL’s best netball talent travelled to Parade College, Bundoora in June to take on the Northern Netball League in the SFNL Netball’s first Interleague clash. Coached by Guy Keane (Head Coach) and Mel Ramsden (Assistant), the Southern A-Grade and B-Grade teams fought hard but unfortunately the NNL proved too strong in both matches. However, the girls did the SFNL proud with their fighting spirit and will no doubt be tough to beat in 2016.

[caption id="attachment_9772" align="aligncenter" width="550"]The SFNL girls did us proud in our first ever Netball Interleague clash. The SFNL girls did us proud in our first ever Netball Interleague clash.[/caption]


9 - Annie Mirabile in AFL Women’s Game

In a further boost for the SFNL’s umpiring department, one of our brightest young umpires, Annie Mirabile, was one of three whistle-blowers chosen to officiate the AFL Women’s Exhibition Match between the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in August. The match, a curtain-raiser to the Bulldogs-Demons AFL clash, was televised live on Channel 7. Alongside Annie that day was Libby Toovey, a former graduate of the SFNL umpiring program who currently officiates in the VFL.

[caption id="attachment_9774" align="aligncenter" width="551"]Annie Mirabile takes charge of the AFL Women's Exhibition match at Etihad Stadium. Annie Mirabile takes charge of the AFL Women's Exhibition match at Etihad Stadium.[/caption]


8 - Donna Stevens Wins Women’s Achievement Award

The League’s Women of the South function was held as a cocktail event for the first time and it proved to be a highly successful evening with more than 80 women in attendance at the Woodlands Golf Club. The night helped recognise and celebrate the role of women in both football and netball teams through the introduction of the Women’s Achievement Award. Donna Stevens (Dingley) became the inaugural recipient of this award. Stevens, who has served tirelessly as head trainer at the Dingoes over many years, edged out Margaret Torpy (Moorabbin Kangaroos), Deanne Barnes (Carrum Patterson Lakes), Sue Anderson (Cheltenham) and Sam Downie (Keysborough) for the award.

[caption id="attachment_9776" align="aligncenter" width="550"]The shortlisted nominees for the Women's Achievement Award: (from left) Deanne Barnes, Sam Downie, Margaret Torpy, Sue Anderson and winner Donna Stevens. The shortlisted nominees for the Women's Achievement Award: (from left) Deanne Barnes, Sam Downie, Margaret Torpy, Sue Anderson and winner Donna Stevens.[/caption]


7 - Dingley Netballers Claim Division 1 Three-Peat

The Dingoes girls made it an historic hat-trick of Netball Division 1 titles after a 46-38 win over competition newcomers Keysborough in the Grand Final. Dingley led at every change and withstood a spirited final-term fightback from the Burras to emulate Hawthorn’s feat in the AFL.

[caption id="attachment_8877" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Dingley claims their premiership hat-trick. Dingley claims their premiership hat-trick.[/caption]


6 - Southern Award Winners

It’s been a big year for the League on the awards front with several SFNL representatives taking home prestigious gongs. Outgoing Mordialloc coach Sam Anstey became the League’s first winner of the prestigious Gerard Fitzgerald Senior Coach of the Year at the AFL Victoria Community Football Awards in November. The same night, Director of Umpiring Peter Mair was crowned the Umpires Coach of the Year before days later taking home the illustrious Community Coach of the Year at the Victorian Government Sport & Recreation Awards. The SFNL’s radio team, headed by executive producer Robert Sharpe, also made it two gongs in as many years, winning the AFL Victoria Community Media Award for Best Radio Show (Sunday Football Netball Show).

[caption id="attachment_9777" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Peter Mair (left) and Sam Anstey accept their AFL Victoria awards. Peter Mair (left) and Sam Anstey accept their AFL Victoria awards.[/caption]


5 - Dingoes Break Through For Maiden Division 1 Flag

Clearly the standout team for the past two seasons, the Dingoes erased last year’s Grand Final heartbreak by claiming their first Division 1 Senior premiership in emphatic fashion. Facing a somewhat battle-weary Mordialloc outfit, the Dingoes led from go to whoa in the Big Dance, running out eventual winners by 52 points, much to the delight of the massive Dingley crowd. Season 2015 will be a memorable one for all Dingoes fans, with the Division 1 Reserve, Thirds-Blue and Netball Division 1 premierships also ending up at Souter Oval.

[caption id="attachment_9185" align="aligncenter" width="550"]The all-conquering Dingoes salute their maiden Division 1 Senior premiership. The all-conquering Dingoes salute their maiden Division 1 Senior premiership.[/caption]


4 - Introduction of the SFNL Hall of Fame

The Southern Football Netball League Hall of Fame was launched in 2015 to honour and celebrate the contributions individuals have made to the SFNL and its forerunner competitions - South East Suburban Football League, Eastern Suburbs Churches Football Association and the Federal Football League. More than 200 people attended the special Hall of Fame Gala function at ‘Sandy by the Bay’ in July to see 22 men become the inaugural inductees into the Hall of Fame.

[caption id="attachment_9778" align="aligncenter" width="650"]The 22 inaugural SFNL Hall of Fame inductees. The inaugural SFNL Hall of Fame inductees.[/caption]


3 - Season Launch/SFNL Rebrand

In a ground-breaking move, the Southern Football League was rebranded the Southern Football Netball League at the League’s Season Launch function in April. The move saw the SFNL become the first metropolitan football competition in Melbourne to incorporate the ‘Netball’ moniker into its official title, and reflects the continued growth of the League's netball competition. The Season Launch function, the first of its kind organised by the League, was held at ‘Sandy by the Bay’ in Sandringham and was attended by a number of dignitaries including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Coinciding with the function was the Saturday night clash between 2014 Division 1 Grand Finalists East Brighton and Dingley, played under lights at Trevor Barker Oval.


2 - Oakleigh District Breaks 57-Year Premiership Drought

If a week is a long time in footy, then what do you call 57 years? After 12 consecutive Grand Final losses, Oakleigh District made it lucky 13 when their broke through to win their first premiership since 1958. The dominant side in Division 2 all year, the Oaks got the early jump on Murrumbeena in the Grand Final before running out comfortable victors. And the unbridled joy on the faces of the dyed-in-the-wool Oaks fans that have bled black and white for decades was heartwarming.

[caption id="attachment_9210" align="aligncenter" width="550"]The Oaks are premiers at long last after a 57-year wait. The Oaks are premiers at long last after a 57-year wait.[/caption]


1 - Mordi Makes History

Last year’s Division 2 premier Mordialloc was without doubt the feel-good Cinderella story of 2015. The Bloods’ meteoric rise from second division to the Big Dance in the top grade captivated all local football followers like few teams before and in the process re-wrote the history books. Although they couldn’t quite complete the fairytale on that final Sunday, they nevertheless became just the second team in the competition’s history to reach a Division 1 Grand Final the year after winning the Division 2 flag. More remarkably, they were able to make the Granny from fifth on the ladder and limped into the finals with three consecutive defeats to end the home and away season. But their September form was simply extraordinary, culminating in a victory over reigning Division 1 premier East Brighton in the Preliminary Final that will go down in footy folklore. Trailing the Vampires by 48 points in the second term, the Bloods then staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent memory, booting 15 of the last 16 goals – including an unanswered 9.0 in the final term – to run out winners by a scarcely-believable 33 points.

[caption id="attachment_9779" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Last year's Division 2 premier, Mordialloc, forced their way into the Division 1 decider against all odds. Last year's Division 2 premier, Mordialloc, wrote their own headlines every week after forcing their way into the Division 1 decider against all odds.[/caption]

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