Tag: Oakleigh Chargers

Glimpses enough to show O’Loughlin’s talent

TWO games, two rare accolades. The journey of Alice O’Loughlin is one that is certainly unique in the sense that she has only played two matches in three years at the Oakleigh Chargers, due to other sporting commitments and injury. When she looks back on it, she considers it a remarkable feat to have played one game and then made the Under 16s Vic Metro squad, then only added one more game this year to earn an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to get those opportunities with the very limited game time they’ve seen me play,” O’Loughlin said. “Especially given this season I was hoping to string a few games together and really create a name myself, and get myself out there but I am very fortunate of what I’ve got to do with only two games.”

O’Loughlin has never been far from a sport whether it be a round ball or even oar, which has taken up a lot of her teenage years. After just the one bottom-age game in 2018, last year was meant to be a big year for the middle-ager, but her season was wiped out by an ankle injury. Fast forward to 2020 and after playing the first game, missed the second due to rowing commitments and then the season was postponed.

“I’ve always loved all my sports as long as I can remember so I’ve tried to get my hands on all sports whether it’s basketball, netball, rowing and school sports,” O’Loughlin said. “That means I’ve had to juggle footy with all of them so I haven’t really given footy my biggest footy. “But I’ve loved it, it’s always been my favourite sport and essentially once the pathway I was really excited to see where I could take it.

“Having all those sports, I never really got to play that many games,” she said. “Especially for Oakleigh, because I’ve been in the Oakleigh program for three years or four years. I’ve only ended up playing two games, which I probably would have liked to have changed that but I suppose we can’t now.”

Having played at Kew Comets since she was eight-years-old, O’Loughlin has been lucky enough to play football her whole life, it has just been one of a number of sports that she has juggled with a full platter throughout her journey. She cites the creativity of the game and playing with mates as some of the main attributes that attracted her to Aussie rules in the first place, “everyone working together to win games and thus winning a premiership”.

Having not played for the Chargers in two years, O’Loughlin was pleased to run out in Wangaratta against the Murray Bushrangers back in Round 1 where she booted three goals in a big win.

“I was really excited because I had an ankle injury the previous season so that knocked me out of the whole season,” O’Loughlin said. “Then so I was just really excited to get a few games together but that obviously got cut short because of COVID. “I was really excited to just go out there and just have fun with it. “It was really good game and good to get the win.”

Her experience with Vic Metro was a fond one, and whilst overwhelming considering others had played more games at the level, she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It was really good opportunity to play alongside the best talent. But yeah it was a great experience for me,” O’Loughlin said. “I must admit I was a bit nervous, and I suppose coming into a new environment I did get a bit nervous and I would have liked to have played a lot better in the Vic game, but it was just a great learning experience.”

While rowing had caused her to miss a number of football commitments – including the Chargers’ trip down to Tasmania for the Devils’ first ever home game – O’Loughlin said it had helped her over the journey.

“It really helped me with my fitness in footy,” she said. “I’ve always tried to balance the two but then after my ankle injury the main reason why I did rowing to gain fitness up again and that strength. “Then transferred that over into footy but then didn’t get the chance to.”

As someone who knew she needed a full season to prove herself, O’Loughlin said she was “devastated” when presented with the news that the season had been called off.

“I banked on having a good season and stringing a few games together,” she said. “I was pretty devastated and didn’t really know what to think at the time but I mean there’s nothing you can really do about it at the time but perform when you get the opportunity too.”

O’Loughlin’s strengths include her skills and reading of the play, which has developed over a decade of playing footy, even if it has not been at NAB League level. Her main goal at the moment is landing on an AFL Women’s list in next week’s draft and hoping to build her game further in an elite environment.

“It would be amazing just to get the opportunity to be put in a professional environment and just to have a preseason because I’ve never really got to have a full footy preseason, or full footy season so really seeing where I can take my skills when I have a full season under my belt,” O’Loughlin said.

Lin fast to transition into football

JOANNA Lin was not convinced about starting competitive Australian rules football at first, despite a friend referring her to it back in Year 10. While the future Oakleigh Chargers’ talent enjoyed playing it during her school breaks at recess and lunch, it took a little while – and some extra prodding from her friend – for her to take the plunge and join her local club, Bulleen-Templestowe. When her friend first asked her to come join, it was more of a “maybe” and put it on the backburner.

“I was like ‘oh yeah’, I’ve played a bit in primary at recess and lunch and I always thought about playing it, but girls could only play up to a certain age, I didn’t really pursue it,” Lin said. “Then she was like ‘you should come to one of our trainings and see how that goes’. “I was like ‘oh maybe’ then as time went by, the plans you make with your friends but don’t end up happening.

“I didn’t really think much of it until recess and lunch, she came up to me and said ‘hey I mentioned to the team manager about you and they asked if you could come’ and I was like ‘oh woah that’s sick’. “Then I showed up for my first training at the club and that was just a really good environment. “I decided to play and went from there.”

It turned out to be a wise decision as Lin quickly caught onto the sport and described Oakleigh as “one big family” and definitely a step up from local football. As an outside running player, Lin has been thrown around in a few positions during her career.

“At local I played mainly half-forward so it was always going up the field and also considered through the midfield rotation as well,” Lin said. “I really enjoyed the running aspect, being able to run off players and just run down the field.”

Last year was Lin’s first season with the Chargers, and as a middle-ager, she was coming in with less experience than many others. Despite her lack of experience, she put together a terrific season culminating in her polling the most votes for her side at the NAB League Best and Fairest night and making Team of the Year.

“That was insane,” Lin said. “I was just playing how I played and so when it came to the night, I was just kind of confused what I was doing there because there were so many girls there that were really much better and everything so I was very confused. “But I was really grateful when I saw the votes and I was like ‘oh wow’ and I was the top one for Oakleigh. “It was really weird but very grateful for it.”

Not only has Lin been able to transition from one school footy into elite junior footy, but it is transitioning from one part of the ground to the other that really stands out.

“I think my strengths are probably the transition through the backline to the forward line because I’m kind of like on the wing,” Lin said. “The kick out, best position to kick to, that’s probably my best strength, in transition.”

Right now Lin is aiming to build her strength to impact more in aerial contests, because she said to become a better player she has to “compete better in the one-on-ones”. While her season was cut short this year, Lin has had plenty of favourite football memories, including the three-peat she won at her local club.

“It was really good to win three premierships in a row with those girls there and just the same (like Oakleigh) it’s like a family there, it’s probably my favourite memory,” Lin said.

After a huge first season, Lin earned a spot in the AFL Women’s National Academy, something she has cherished and was certainly not expecting when she was told last year.

“It was crazy because I got the email after my exam last year for maths,” Lin said. “I was kind of down because I didn’t go as well as I thought I’d go (in the exam). “Then I got the email for it and I was like ‘woah what is this?’ and I was with some of my mates and they were celebrating and I was in shock.

Being invited to that, it’s been very helpful,” she said. “It’s been a great experience, been able to meet the other girls who are pushing to get drafted this year and become really close to them. “That has been a really good part of my career so far.”

Lin draws inspiration from those very teammates who help her become a better player and in return she tries to do the same as she strives to get to the highest level she can, whether it be the AFL Women’s or VFL Women’s, just making the most out of her footballing journey.

“I don’t know if this sounds a bit cliche but probably the people around me like my teammates (are my inspiration),” she said. “Watching them work on their skills and become a better player themselves, it pushes me inside to become a better player and I can help the team more as well.”

As for what being drafted next week would mean, Lin knows it would be something special for her in what has been such a promising journey thus far.

“It would mean a lot,” Lin said. “It would be like a lot of the effort and hard work that I’ve put into my footy throughout all these years has helped.”

Micallef driven by passion to achieve her dream

OAKLEIGH Chargers defender/midfielder Amber Micallef quintessentially lives and breathes football. It is her “coffee in the morning” that keeps her focused. The talented teenager earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite and spoke to Draft Central about her hopes and dreams of playing at the elite level.

“The reason why I kept playing AFL is because of the passion of it,” she said. “I wake up to it every day and it’s sort of like a job for me. “I wake up and I have a passion for, I love for it. And I guess it gives me that drive and that optimism that I see in everyday life. “In a way, it’s like my coffee in the morning. “If I go out and kick a footy or play a game of footy, it just brings my hopes up a little bit.”

Micallef is one of those aspiring AFL Women’s footballers who tasted footy as a child, but then took a different path – in this case, basketball – before returning to the sport she loved once a pathway, and more opportunities opened up.

“I never really had that luxury like a couple of the girls, how they’ve been playing for a long time,” Micallef said. “I did Auskick when I was about five for about a season. “Then I got asked to play five games for Bulleen Bullants in the YJFL competition. “And then after those five games, I played basketball for 10 years. “There was no footy in that.”

Fast forward to her high school days, and a chance conversation steered her back to the oblong-shaped ball sport.

“When I was in Year 8, my friends said ‘hey, we’re gonna do school footy, are you interested?’. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll give it a shot’, and from school footy we all loved it, even though most of my friends came from basketball like me. “Then we had this new club, coming up with Beverley Hills. They were going to start a new girls competition, and a couple of my friends were thinking about it and asked to me to join.”

Micallef did just that, and while it was a little different at first, Micallef was familiar with kicking the footy from her junior days and had the fitness and athleticism to match it with others thanks to not only her basketball, but her cross country and athletics as well. What really won her over however, was the community spirit and team atmosphere.

“I love it how it’s a team sport,” Micallef said. “And you know, we train twice a week. “We spend a lot of time with each other and really get to know each other on a personal level. “So I love the competition of it too. “I love how you could play anywhere on the ground if you want to, how you can tackle people, you can run and it’s also a really good for fitness, too. “But more so. I just love the community of it. I love the vibe of it, too.”

Her pathway into Oakleigh was a little more conventional, invited to play at the Chargers in the Under 15s development program. Playing as a midfielder then, Micallef was expecting to make the transition into the NAB League Under 18s side in the same role, but then there was a change.

“I got asked to play in the backline, and I was really unsure because I never really played any defensive work, or played in the backline in general,” Micallef said. “Oakleigh trained me up for about four years and I’ve been playing in the backline and a little bit of in the midfield this year, too, “Which was really cool.”

Micallef was a fast learner and soon she earned a spot in the Vic Metro Under 16s team, following up from representing her state in the Under 15s School Sports Victoria (SSV) side. She described the feeling of running out on GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country as an “awesome experience” and visibly noticed the rise in skill level from both sides compared to her local competition and even NAB League.

Her pathway to follow her dream was tracking nicely as she was putting together consistent performances for Oakleigh each week, playing nine games in her middle-age season, and then averaging a career-high 14 disposals per game in her two games in 2020. Then it all came to a grinding halt. The season was postponed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. At first, Micallef said she was not too worried, expecting it to return at some stage, before the realisation hit her following the official cancellation in July.

“Well, at the start, I really didn’t believe that it was gonna get cancelled,” Micallef said. “I guess I was always optimistic. “So when it first got called off, I was like, ‘Oh, it’ll come back in a week’ and then a week led to ‘It’ll come back in a month’ or ‘come back in a few months’. “I never really expected it to get called off. “When it got cancelled, that’s when I realised ‘Oh, it’s really not coming back’.

Immediately the natural leader tried to get around her teammates and keep the positivity going and make sure everyone was in the best form of their lives with other opportunities – such as the AFL Women’s Draft Combine – still a possibility.

“I’ve always been training through that,” Micallef said. I always went around the girls saying, ‘you know, you always got to have high hopes, keep on training, you never know what opportunity will come up’, but yeah, it was a bit devastating to hear that the whole competition got called off. “Everyone was in the same boat, so it’s like you control what you control, and you can see how you want to see it.”

Micallef rates her tackling, stoppage work and vision as her greatest strengths, particularly capable of playing behind the ball or through the midfield when required. She is looking to tweak some of her fundamental skills such as her opposite foot kicking, contested marking and fitness, which is what she has done over the break. But for her, it was not being able to play out the season which had promised so much after Oakleigh recorded back-to-back massive wins over Murray Bushrangers and Tasmania Devils prior to the season ending.

“Oakleigh this year was probably the most memorable for me, even though it was only two games,” Micallef said. “We went to Wangaratta in Round 1 against Murray Bushrangers. “By that first game, that first win, I could see, out of all the training stuff that we did a couple of bonding sessions that we did, I think that one hit home for a lot of us and we sort of had a feeling ‘you know what? We actually might win this this season’.

“It was just a really good feeling. “And then going into Tasmania, I’ll say it was one of my favourite games to play. “Even just representing Oakleigh against Tasmania was a great feeling, and I could see a lot of the girls would be the same highlights for them.”

Micallef has always been an analyser of sport, watching others intently to try and learn everything she can about being the best possible player she can be in football. Whether it is teammates or opponents, she always wants to be the best and thrives on learning off others to reach their levels.

“I’ll say my journey of football I never really had an athlete or a celebrity I looked up to. It was more so my teammates on the field, especially when I started in junior level,” Micallef said. “I used to play against Ellie McKenzie a lot, and she used to dominate, as she still does now. “But I used to look up to her and say, ‘why can’t I do that? Why can’t I do what she’s been doing?’ “And then especially going into Oakleigh Chargers, you have Nicola Xenos, Gemma Lagioia, even Mimi Hill. “They’re just amazing players and I’m just like, ‘why can’t I do what they can to do?’ “What they’re doing now, I want to be the best, like them.”

So how exactly does Micallef try and emulate those she wants to match at the level?

“I try to train as much as I can, especially with Mimi,” Micallef said. “I like to watch back on vision and see how each of them play. “So when we went played against Northern Knights, I watch how Ellie McKenzie moved. “Or, Mimi at training, like try to see through her eyes what she sees on the field. “So I always tried to create what they’re doing and always improve on what I need to improve, to be like them.”

As a Rising Star for Marcellin Eagles, and then finishing second overall in the YJFL Division 2 League Best and Fairest and Team of the Year, Micallef’s goal for 2020 was to build confidence. Along with spending more time in the midfield, Micallef just wanted to play the best football she could. As well as watching Tayla Harris and her beloved Blues in the AFL and AFL Women’s for enjoyment, Micallef keeps a sharp eye on how the defenders play to see if she can implement any strategies into her own game.

As for her own personal football memory, it was the Round 1 game this year, but more so for the off-field result rather than the on-field one, though that was the icing on the cake as well.

“Playing in Wangaratta, my nan came along, she lives in Corowa, which is in New South Wales, so she barely comes to watch my games,” Micallef said. “It was just really nice for her to come to that game in particular and actually see me in the midfield and me kicking the ball to my teammates getting goals and overall I was just really happy with the game. “I think she saw I was happy, and it made me happy that she was happy.”

Now Micallef is edging closer to fulfilling her dream to reach the elite level. If she is able to achieve that, then it will be something special, but also seen as a job half done as she looks to always improve.

“It will mean all the hard work that I put in, all the blood, sweat and tears and all the people around these you supported me will finally pay off,” she said. “It’s not totally finished, I’ll always want to improve on stuff and improve on my game. “But I think it would be an absolute dream.”

AFL Draft Watch: Maurice Rioli Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies)

IN the midst of football’s long-awaited return, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state in some capacity leading into 2020, or are bolting into draft contention. While plenty has changed between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at pre-season testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is Oakleigh Chargers and NT Thunder prospect, Maurice Rioli Jnr. He is the son of late Richmond great, Maurice Rioli, and is eligible to be taken by the Tigers in this year’s draft under the father-son rule. As his pedigree would suggest, the 18-year-old is an excitement machine out on the field, boasting electric pace, sharp skills, and an uncanny knack of finding the goals. While he stands at just 173cm, Rioli is not afraid to get stuck in, boasting a high contested possession rate and applying smothering defensive pressure as he rotates forward through the midfield.

Having moved down to Victoria this year to complete his studies at Scotch College, Rioli was also keen to run out for Oakleigh in the now-scrapped NAB League competition. Nonetheless, he remains one of the sole prospects based in the Southern state to have completed a season of football in 2020, after he helped St Mary’s qualify for this year’s NTFL Grand Final in a memorable post-season.


Maurice Rioli Jnr
Oakleigh Chargers/NT Thunder/Allies

DOB: September 1, 2002

Height: 173cm
Weight: 73kg

Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense, defensive pressure, creativity
Improvements: Consistency/sustained impact

2019 NAB League averages: 3 games | 11.3 disposals | 1.3 marks | 6.3 tackles | 3.0 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

>> Feature: Maurice Rioli Jnr


Standing Vertical Jump: 60cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L): 62cm/78cm
Speed (20m): 2.98 seconds
Agility: 8.11 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo): 20.5

>> Full Testing Results:
20m Sprint


2019 NAB League Round 3 vs. Tasmania Devils

By: Alex Gibson

The way this bottom-ager plays, it is no surprise he is a Rioli. His presence of silky skill was complimented beautifully by his dashing speed. Although he did not have huge numbers, his possessions were damaging thanks to his precise vision and ability to lower his eyes. A run-down tackle at the start of the third quarter got the crowd up on its feet.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Tasmania

By: Michael Alvaro

The latest of the Rioli clan, Maurice has all of the traits you would expect given his pedigree. While he did not find a heap of the ball in the forward half, he looked dangerous in possession and started the game off perfectly with a snap after slipping his opponent. While he is still very raw, Rioli has plenty of talent to work with and is not afraid to pull off a party trick at full pace. At 173cm, he is not quite yet ready for a spot in the midfield, but was given a run at a centre bounce in the third quarter.

Featured Image: Maurice Rioli Jnr in action for St Mary’s | Source: Keri Megelus/News Corp Australia

>> 2020 AFL National Draft Combine List
>> 2020 Allies U18s Squad Prediction

>> August 2020 Power Rankings
>> July 2020 Power Rankings
>> September 2020 Power Rankings


Tahj Abberley
Charlie Byrne
Jackson Callow
Blake Coleman
Braeden Campbell
Alex Davies
Oliver Davis
Errol Gulden
Joel Jeffrey
Patrick Walker

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Bailey Chamberlain
Brayden Cook
Zac Dumesny
Corey Durdin
Luke Edwards
Lachlan Jones
Tariek Newchurch
Caleb Poulter
Tom Powell
Taj Schofield
Henry Smith
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Tanner Bruhn
Jack Ginnivan
Oliver Henry
Elijah Hollands
Zach Reid
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jake Bowey
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Eddie Ford
Max Heath
Bailey Laurie
Finlay Macrae
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins
Will Phillips

Western Australia:
Jack Carroll
Heath Chapman
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll
Zane Trew
Brandon Walker
Joel Western
Isiah Winder

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Murray Bushrangers vs. Oakleigh Chargers

OUR next All-Star Team battle is between two Victorian clubs, in the Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Collingwood midfielder, Steele Sidebottom (Murray Bushrangers) and West Coast counterpart, Luke Shuey (Oakleigh Chargers).


These clubs are seeded fourth (Murray) and 13th (Oakleigh) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face the winner of Northern Knights and Swan Districts.


Where do you start with the Bushrangers? The balance they have across the field is ridiculously good. They have a nice balance of midfielders, plenty of depth at key positions, and a plethora of hard and skilful midfielders. That is before you get to a forward line containing Fraser Gehrig, Barry Hall and Jarrad Waite who provide a three-prong attack to die for. The midfield of Sidebottom, Clayton Oliver, David Mundy, Tom Rockliff and Brett Deledio is just perfect for matching up on any other midfield.

The Chargers have an elite midfield that bats really deep, from the inside talents of Jack Macrae and Dan Hannebery with Marc Murphy, to the outside run of Shuey and Andrew Gaff. The forward line is damaging with the likes of Robbie Gray, Toby Greene, Jordan De Goey and Jack Billings joining Luke Power. With Darcy Moore as centre half-back and Josh Gibson coming across as the third tall, the defence should have great intercepting ability, whilst Todd Goldstein will control the ruck.

The battle of the midfields would be unbelievable, though the Bushrangers would back their defence in against a dynamic Chargers’ forward line.


There really is not one on paper for the Bushrangers. Genuinely their depth goes beyond the squad of 24, with the initial team featuring Josh Fraser who could also come in and replace one of the rucks going around. The only question mark might be the durability of some players with the Reid brothers – Ben and Sam – as well as Jamie Elliott and Justin Koschitzke all having their injury troubles over the years.

The Chargers lack a little in defence, with Bret Thornton the second best key position player, and the depth for small defenders being a little weaker than other sides. Their forward line is undersized, though still provides X-factor, but would need to use the ball well with a lack of height in there.


In this match-up you would expect the Bushrangers to stretch the Chargers’ backline, but at the same time, the speed of the Chargers forward line would trouble the taller defenders there, meaning there is every chance one of the Bushrangers’ key position stocks would drop out and a small come in.

Which team would you pick?
Murray Bushrangers
Oakleigh Chargers
Created with Quiz Maker

All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era: Which club is the best of the best?

EVERY year, a new crop of AFL Draft talents rise up and make waves at AFL level. Some clubs such as Calder Cannons and Geelong Falcons are referred to as ‘footy factories’. Others are less well known, but nonetheless vital in providing players with their start to the AFL.

Over the past couple of months, Draft Central has gone through all of the NAB League, SANFL and WAFL clubs and tried to determine the best 24-player squad for their respective clubs. The captains and vice-captains were determined by the public through Instagram voting. Now, it is up to the public to decide which All-Star Team is the greatest of the lot. That’s right, the 30 teams from Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia are going head to head in a knockout draw.

Which teams are competing?

NAB League [12]: Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Dandenong Stingrays, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers, Sandringham Dragons, Western Jets
SANFL [9]: Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, Port Adelaide, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide, Woodville-West Torrens
WAFL [9]: Claremont, East Fremantle, East Perth, South Fremantle, Peel Thunder, Perth, Subiaco, Swan Districts, West Perth

How will it work?

Each day at 10am, we will publish the two All-Star Teams of the AFL Draft era, and the public will be able to vote through the article, Facebook and Twitter, with the overall winner moving through to the next round.

Given there are 30 teams, two sides who we have picked out as the top two seeds – East Fremantle and Geelong Falcons – will have the bye in the opening round, with the other 28 teams seeded appropriately similar to the All-Star Player voting (3rd against 28th, 4th against 27th etc.).

Who is up first?

The first All-Star Team battle is between a couple of metropolitan sides who we have seeded 16th and 17th in the draw. They both have some absolute elite stars, but Calder Cannons and Western Jets will begin the voting on Monday. They will be followed by the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges on Tuesday, before a cross-state clash sees third seed Port Adelaide Magpies tackle Peel Thunder.

Classic Contests: Saad’s seven fires Cannons to victory over Chargers

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Gippsland Power and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to early 2017, when the two sides went down to the wire in a game of heavy momentum swings.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 4, 11:30am
Highgate Reserve

CALDER CANNONS 1.5 | 4.9 | 7.14 | 9.16 (70)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.3 | 8.6 | 8.6 | 9.8 (62)


Calder: M. Saad 7, K. Brown, B. Ronke
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker


Calder: M. Saad, B. Ronke, Z. Guthrie, H. Blythe, B. Caluzzi, B. Bernacki
A. Moate 3, X. Morgan 2, L. Bugeja, M. Young, X. Jordan, L. Walker

Draftees in action:

Calder: Ben Ronke, Zach Guthrie
Oakleigh: Jordan Ridley, Taylin Duman

Conditions at Highgate Reserve often blanket the ability of even the most potent match winners, but all the rain and wind in the world could do little to stop Muhammad Saad in early June, 2016. The brother of Essendon speedster, Adam put on a seven-goal show to inspire his Calder Cannons to a comeback victory over the Oakleigh Chargers in Round 9 of the TAC Cup season,

The Cannons needed something special to turn their season around, sitting 10th with two wins from eight games – including losses in their first four outings, and two in the last fortnight. Oakleigh was faring a touch better in seventh at 4-4, but had lost three of its last four games in what was the start of a mid-season skid. The Chargers would also go in without a considerable amount of top-end, top-age talent, including the likes of Josh Daicos, Nick Larkey, and Ed Phillips.

But through the weather and absentees, Oakleigh showed its class with a five goals to one opening term, making much better of its eight scoring shots (5.3) compared to the hosts’ six (1.5). The buffer would remain relatively the same heading into the main break, as the Chargers got out to a six-goal lead, but had the margin reigned back to 21 points at half-time.

Saad had already clicked into gear, booting a couple of majors to keep his side within reach, before flicking the switch midway through the third term to help the Cannons hit the front. The game was on the line with Calder ahead by two points at three quarter time, and the ascendancy would change hands multiple times in the final term. Saad proved the difference again, putting the Cannons back in front for good as they ran out eight-point victors.

With seven of Calder’s total nine goals, the number 43 was inevitably named best afield for his remarkable exploits inside forward 50. Ben Ronke was one of two other Cannons to hit the scoreboard, with fellow draftee Zach Guthrie played his part up the other end of the field. Adam Moate booted three majors for Oakleigh, while Xavier Jordan was named the most valuable Charger.

The result proved somewhat of a turning point for the Cannons, as they shot back into finals contention and eventually finished the regular season in seventh (8-9). The Chargers landed in sixth with an identical record, but exacted revenge with a 106-point elimination final belting, before eventually going down in the preliminary finals to Murray.

Featured Image: Greg Kowalczewski/News Corp

Classic Contests: Chargers and Rebels go down to the wire in semi final showdown

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when the sides threw down in a tense semi final.

2016 TAC Cup, Semi Finals
Sunday September 11, 2:15pm
Princes Park

N. BALLARAT REBELS 2.2 | 6.4 | 8.5 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.4 | 6.5 | 10.7 | 12.14 (86)


N. Ballarat: S. Beks 3, H. Dawborn, A. Domic, J. Korewha, I. Johnson, W. Drew, T. Williamson, C. Cox, L. Huppatz, J. McQueen
D. Johnstone 3, E. Phillips 2, P. Kerr 2, J. Daicos 2, J. Higgins, V. Adduci, N. Larkey


N. Ballarat: C. Wellings, H. McCluggage, W. Drew, C. Bilney, J. McQueen, J. Harrison
C. Lane, E. Phillips, D. Stanford, N. Reeves, V. Adduci, T. Wooller

Draftees in action:

N. Ballarat: Cedric Cox, Hugh McCluggage, Jamaine Jones, Willem Drew, Tom Williamson, Lloyd Meek
Oakleigh: Ed Phillips, Taylin Duman, Dion Johnstone, Nick Larkey, Patrick Kerr, Jordan Ridley, Josh Daicos, Ned Reeves, Toby Wooller, Jack Higgins

A lot has changed since 2016; the North Ballarat Rebels are now known as the Greater Western Victoria Rebels, and the premier Victorian Under 18s competition has been rebranded to the NAB League. But one thing that has barely changed of late, particularly for the Oakleigh Chargers, is their ability to produce AFL-worthy prospects, of which were on show during a tight TAC Cup semi final showdown.

16 players who took to Princes Park as the Rebels and Chargers went to battle would eventually land on AFL lists, split 10-6 in favour of Oakleigh. It could have been more too, with both sides missing a key top-age gun each. The Rebels went in without Jarrod Berry, who was arguably built for finals football, while Oakleigh was missing bigman Sam McLarty. But with a heap of quality remaining and both sides near full-strength, a spectacle was still there to be had.

The Rebels were clearly the superior side throughout the regular season, having earned a second finals chance by finishing third at 12-5. They had beaten Oakleigh by 39 points in Round 6, and boasted a six-game winning streak in the lead-up to finals. That second chance would come into play after a loss to Geelong in the qualifying finals, on the same weekend that Oakleigh won its elimination dig over Calder by 106 points. It meant the Chargers had won four on the trot after finishing sixth (8-9), and would look to bundle the Rebels out in straight sets.

An early break went the way of the underdogs too, despite two Shannon Beks goals for North Ballarat in the first 10 minutes. The Chargers held a one-point lead at the main break, with no side able to string together a streak of over two goals to that point. While Aiden Domic put the Rebels ahead with an early third term major, Oakleigh soared back in front with four unanswered goals of their own – only halted by Jake McQueen‘s late steadier.

With everything to play for in the final period, Tom Williamson got North Ballarat off to the perfect start with a goal in the second minute, and after a 15-minute stalemate, Jarrod Korewha brought the margin back to a single kick. Oakleigh looked to have done enough with two quick replies but the Rebels were not done yet, and bridged the gap once more. A handy Ed Phillips point with a minute on the clock would make it tough for North Ballarat at seven points down, proving as much as they went down by six points.

Two players who were unlucky to miss out on being drafted that year, Cal Wellings and Campbell Lane were named best afield for their respective sides, and ended up as teammates in Collingwood’s VFL squad. It was no surprise to see the likes of Hugh McCluggage and Willem Drew amongst the action for North Ballarat, while Phillips and a bottom-aged Toby Wooller were influential for Oakleigh. Eventual draftees Dion Johnstone (three goals), Patrick Kerr (two), Josh Daicos (two), Jack Higgins (one), and Nick Larkey (one) all hit the scoreboard for the victors.

Oakleigh’s finals charge would grind to a halt at the very next stage, going down to Murray by 44 points.

Classic Contests: Stacked Chargers edge Falcons in four-point thriller

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Oakleigh Chargers and Geelong Falcons. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2012, when the Falcons pushed a talent-rich Chargers lineup all the way at Warrawee Park.

2012 TAC Cup, Round 13
Saturday July 14, 2:00pm
Warrawee Park

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.4 | 2.8 | 6.10 | 8.11 (59)
GEELONG FALCONS 0.2 | 3.3 | 6.4 | 8.6 (54)


Oakleigh: J. Billings 2, J. Collopy 2, K. Jaksch 2, J. Kennedy-Harris, L. McDonald
T. Batarilo 2, L. Taylor 2, T. Gribble, M. Wood, A. Christensen, D. Bond


Oakleigh: W. Maginness, R. Exon, K. Jaksch, L. McDonald, J. Curran, K. Nolan
Geelong: D. Fort, C. Williams, N. Bourke, L. Taylor, A. Hickey, J. Tsitsas

Draftees in action:

Oakleigh: Marc Pittonet, Jack Macrae, Jack Billings, Sam Collins, Luke McDonald, Tom Cutler, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Kristian Jaksch, Jason Ashby, Will Maginness,
Geelong: Lewis Taylor, Darcy Fort, Mason Wood, Darcy Lang, Josh Saunders, Nick Bourke

16 future AFL draftees took the field as Oakleigh and Geelong battled in Round 13 of the 2012 TAC Cup, with a stacked Chargers lineup looking to gain redemption on home turf. The Falcons had comfortably triumphed in the Round 5 reverse fixture, coming away 42-point winners at Kardinia Park.

That result was part of their even 6-6 record to that point, good enough for eighth spot. Oakleigh was faring slightly better despite the upset, sitting fifth at 7-5. Both sides came in on winning streaks, with Geelong getting home in three-straight close encounters, while Oakleigh took out its previous two outings.

While there was plenty of quality on each line, both teams got off to slow starts and failed to truly get a hold on the scoreboard. The Chargers in particular had failed to capitalise on their weight of early chances, booting 1.4 in each of the opening two terms. On the other hand, Geelong’s three second quarter majors ensured the Falcons would take a lead into half time, albeit by the narrowest of margins.

The game opened up slightly after the main break as Oakleigh’s guns seemed to recover their kicking boots, fixing up in front of goal to reclaim the ascendancy with four goals in term three. The Falcons were sticking right by them though, booting three goals of their own to remain just a goal adrift. That buffer would prove just enough for Oakleigh, who managed to hold on as the two sides sunk a couple of goals each to round out the game.

West Coast draftee Will Maginness was named best afield for the winners, with Kristian Jaksch and Luke McDonald also among the best half-dozen Chargers. Jack Billings (two goals) and Jay Kennedy-Harris also hit the scoreboard. Bigman Darcy Fort was named Geelong’s best, alongside the likes of Lewis Taylor and James Tsistas. Taylor booted two goals, while Mason Wood and Tom Gribble also found the big sticks once each.

The Falcons would stay true to form and go on to finish the regular season in eight with an 8-8-1 record. Sandringham was the team to bundle them out of contention at the semi finals stage. Oakleigh famously went on to win the TAC Cup premiership from sixth that year, accelerating through finals on the back of a 10-7 record to pip Gippsland via Jack Macrae‘s golden point in the decider.

Classic Contests: Stingrays hold off Chargers to break premiership drought

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 17 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers. In this edition, we wind the clock back to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, when Dandenong held off the Metro powerhouse to break through for its maiden premiership.

2018 TAC Cup, Grand Final
Saturday September 22, 12:05pm
Ikon Park

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.1 | 6.2 | 10.7 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.2 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 11.8 (74)


Dandenong: Z. Foot 2, L. McDonnell 2, B. Williams 2, S. Sturt 2, N. Cahill, F. Bayne, R. Bowman, T. Bedford.
D. Williams 4, N. Anderson 2, J. Ross, R. Collier-Dawkins, A. Bosenavulagi, J. Robertson, J. Gasper.


Dandenong: C. Hustwaite, D. Frampton, L. Stenning, W. Hamill, S. Fletcher, B. Williams
M. Rowell, R. Collier-Dawkins, D. Williams, N. Answerth , J. Robertson, L. Westwood

Draftees in action:

Dandenong: Mitch Riordan, Sam Fletcher, Matthew Cottrell, Bailey Williams, Sam Sturt, Toby Bedford, Will Hamill, Zac Foot, Lachie Young, Ned Cahill, Hayden Young
Oakleigh: Noah Answerth, Isaac Quaynor, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Xavier O’Neill, Will Kelly, Jack Ross, Atu Bosenavulagi, James Rowbottom, James Jordan, Trent Bianco, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Dylan Williams

The premier Victorian Under 18 competition has a happy knack of producing memorable grand finals, and the 2018 decider between Dandenong and Oakleigh lived up to all the hype. The Stingrays came in as the team to beat having secured the minor premiership at 15-1 – any guesses as to which team beat them during the year?

Oakleigh was that side, having snuck home by a goal against Dandenong back in Round 5, though the Stingrays’ redemptive victory in their Round 9 reverse fixture had the head-to-head ledger locked at a dead-even 1-1.

Having finished third on the ladder with a 10-5-1 record, Oakleigh looked to be the form side of the competition heading into Grand Final week, with their two finals wins coming by a combined 213 points. Hardly outdone, the Stingrays had won 13 games on the trot and built a combined margin of 152 points en route to the decider.

As is often the case come season’s end, barring injuries, both regions would boast near full-strength squads, with Jai Nanscawen and Ben Silvagni the only two glaring absentees for either side.

As has often been the case, the two systems also produced a raft of draftable talent and boasted some of the more stacked lineups you’re likely to see at the level. Dandenong fielded all nine of its 2018 draftees and a further two from its 2019 crop. In response, Oakleigh managed to fit 10 of its 11 2018 draftees into the lineup, with four elite movers from the following cohort also making an impact.

Having conceded a seven-point deficit at the opening break, the Stingrays clicked into gear with four unanswered goals in the second stanza to set up what looked to be a game-defining lead. The lead remained heading into the final term, and Sam Sturt‘s goal early in the piece suggested Dandenong would cruise home to a breakthrough premiership victory.

The Chargers wouldn’t let up though, sending their opponents into panic stations with four-consecutive goals to draw within a goal, but desperation helped Dandenong hang on for a deserving six-point win.

2019 number one pick Matt Rowell would show an early sign of his value in important games, earning the medal for best afield in a losing effort. Fellow bottom-ager Noah Anderson was also exceptional with two final term goals, while Dylan Williams booted four for the day in a showing of his potential.

But Dandenong would get the job done, with skipper Campbell Hustwaite bossing the midfield alongside Sam Fletcher, while Riley Bowman stood up in a high level ruck tussle with Will Kelly, and Sturt proved his first round credentials with two goals. Another bolter, Riley Collier-Dawkins was named second-best for Oakleigh.

The loss seemed to spark a fire under the Oakleigh side, with the six under-age players to take the field on that day all contributing to the Chargers’ 2019 premiership triumph. Dandenong’s premiership defence did not go as planned, but the breakthrough win after five previous grand final losses will be remembered for years to come.