Tag: Western Jets

Pritchard takes opportunity into footy

IT was not so much a choice one way or another, but passionate sportsperson Isabelle Pritchard said the decision to pick up a footy and take a chance in the sport was more about opportunity than anything else. Trying her hand at just about anything growing up, and predominantly a netballer, the now Western Jets star has made the most of that opportunity that presented itself a few years ago.

“I had a go at pretty much everything to be honest,” Pritchard said. “Netball was probably my main sport. “I didn’t start that until I was about eight so I was quite young, I played that majority of my childhood, but I had a go at everything else. “I played some basketball, played indoor soccer, I did quite a bit of swimming, etc. and water polo. “I played some cricket, really everything, but netball was like the main thing for me.”

“I think for me it was sort of just, it wasn’t so much a decision it was sort of just the opportunity presented itself in football and I took it, I wasn’t so much weighing up the options of the netball path or football path. It was here’s the path for football, I love football, let’s play football.”

Pritchard said she would consider going back to netball later in life as she loved the sport, but knows the growth in women’s football has been too big to ignore and something she really loved to be a part of.

“Coming from playing netball, it’s quite restricted in terms of where you can run,” Pritchard said. “I loved the freedom of footy being able to go wherever and you’re not controlled by lines on the court or anything like that. “I think I enjoy the physicality as well, being able to get in there, get under the pack and win the ball out for your team is something I really enjoy.”

Pritchard lists her strengths as her ability to win one-on-one contests, as well as the contested ball. The latter of which she only realised after a role switch at the Jets this year saw the traditional intercept marker move from half-back into the middle.

“I really enjoyed it (midfield move) because it gave me an opportunity to be a bit more proactive instead of reactive I suppose,” Pritchard said. “As a defender you’re sort of anticipating where the ball’s going to come in and try and stop them from getting a goal, whereas in the mid your role is to get it forward to try and get a goal.

“I think I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but at the same time I think even when I was playing I still had quite a defensive role, I tended to stay towards the back as that backstop position which I think was good because it gave me an opportunity to translate the things that I learnt in backline into the midfield.”

Rewinding back to the start of her footy journey just a few years ago, Pritchard first tasted football at school as part of a round robin tournament and it instigated a move to sign up for Spotswood, her local football club.

“I signed up just for a bit of fun and started playing and I really enjoyed the day (at school) so then I began playing at a local team starting up at Spotswood, so I began playing there with a few of my friends,” Pritchard said. “I just fell in love with it, kept playing and I was lucky enough to get into the Western Jets that first year and I’ve played there since then.”

Her rise through the pathway was quick but she adapted, though not without plenty of nerves along the way, becoming a regular standout in the Jets’ side.

 “It was scary especially because Western Jets were such a relatively new team,” Pritchard said. “I think the first year I did it was the first year that the Western Jets was actually a standalone Western Jets. “I think it was a bit encouraging because we were all finding out, learning to play, so that was good. “It was scary, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but just tried to hold my weight.”

Hold her weight she did, having grown up supporting the Western Bulldogs with her family, and her twin brother playing football “since he could basically walk”, the game was hardly foreign for her. As a red, white and blue supporter, it was somewhat fitting that running out for Vic Metro as a middle-ager last season, Pritchard was coached by Nathan Burke who would go on to earn the top job at the Western Bulldogs later that year.

“I was incredibly lucky to play as a bottom-ager in the Vic Metro against some of the most talented players in Australia. It was such a great learning opportunity I think as well being able to work, being coached by Nathan Burke was amazing.

“He and also in the under 16s getting coached by Mel Hickey. “It’s so much knowledge that I was able to soak up and learn from their experience, their wisdom and they’re all great coaches. “Also being surrounded by a lot of players who had played a bit longer than me, but also just getting their help on the field and trying to learn from their experiences. “It’s just good being able to learn from such experienced people in such an experienced environment.”

Not only has Pritchard featured through the Vic Metro program, but has been a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy for a couple of years, something that took a while to adjust to due to a foreign exchange clash.

“I went on exchange when I was 16 for three months to France. “I actually found out that I’d got into the Academy while I was away,” Pritchard said. “I was in France and it was just before the summer that I found out and then I missed the first camp because I was away, and then I went on the second one. “It was a bit scary because everyone knew each other already and then when I went away on the second camp, I was trying to meet everyone, I was trying to get involved, find my place.

“But it was really good, and Aasta (O’Connor, AFLW Academy coach) was such a great role model and such a good coach,” she said. “It was amazing to learn from her, and also just be around such amazing talented players and some of those players ended up being my best friends, so it was really great just to be able to go away and spend some time around so much knowledge and talent and be able to try and learn as much as I can from them as well.”

Over her journey, Pritchard has been particularly looking to improve her skills and her athleticism, with the off-season of late giving her an opportunity to fine tune her fitness and speed. Someone who has always been there for the defender/midfielder is her father who she admits has been her role model throughout her childhood.

“He played football growing up as well, so he’s very passionate about it but I love it because he’s not overbearing,” Pritchard said. “When I want help from him I can ask and he’ll give it to me, but he never forces his opinion on me which I really value and I think his opinion is the most important to me, and whenever I need help I go and ask him what he thinks and he always comes up with something wise, so he’s probably been my biggest inspiration, my biggest role model.

“My brother has played footy since he was a kid and I guess that’s what sparked my intrigue into the game,” she said. “He’s always been so hard-working and humble, not just at footy but at everything he does. “My whole life I’ve just been trying to be as good a person as he is.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft looming large tomorrow, Pritchard said the goal for her was to just keep on improving to be the best she could be. Whilst being drafted would be a “huge goal” and an “amazing opportunity”, Pritchard said she would not stop aiming to always improve on herself.

“I mean it’s kind of crazy to think about that four years ago when I started playing I didn’t think that I would be here nominating for the draft, hoping that I would get drafted,” Pritchard said. “But it’s really exciting because it’s a huge opportunity that’s presented itself and the idea of it’s really scary. “I didn’t even know women’s football existed five years ago so it’s crazy, it’s overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly exciting and I can’t wait for the future to see what happens. “Obviously even if I don’t get drafted, I’m just excited to keep playing and keep improving.”

Velardo makes switch to footy after decade-long basketball success

FOR many it might be a move that you want not expect to see coming. Talented basketballer Amelia Velardo had played high-level competitive basketball for up to a decade and it had been her main focus throughout her sporting career. A school captain at Overnewton Anglican Community College and juggling her Year 12 studies, it was always going to be a year of big decisions.

But one of the biggest came prior to the start of 2020 when Velardo decided to stop shooting hoops, and instead focus on kicking goals in a sport that she had not really spent a considerable amount of time in. Luckily for the Western Jets youngster, she had the support of her family in making the big switch, and it allowed her to invest herself in the new sport and everyone could see her passion for it.

“I mean, it was definitely a really big decision for me because basketball has always been my whole life,” Velardo said. “My family have always been incredibly supportive. “No matter what I wanted to do really. “When I started to bring it up, mum and dad were so supportive. “And it helped me this whole year and even just last year, kind of getting myself into the footy scene. So they’ve been amazing.”

“Like I said, they’ve supported me no matter what I wanted to do,” she said. “They could see that I was really keen on just giving it a go, and I mean, I have nothing to lose by giving it a go really. “And even after training for a few games just being in the footy environment, they could see how much I was just loving it. “So they were great supports really.”

Velardo was quite literally a Rising Star in basketball, winning that award for her club, Keilor Thunder in the Big V competition. She received a Most Valuable Player (MVP) in a grand final and she captained her side to a premiership a couple of years back in the youth league. So why the change and why football?

“I kind of lost a little bit of a spark for (basketball) and then footy started becoming more of a a prominent thing in my environment, with school sports,” Velardo said. “And I gave it a go here and there. I just loved every second of it when I was playing. “I had that fire in my gut to really pursue it. “I just I started loving it, so I thought I’m gonna give it a go and definitely have loved every bit of the transition into it.”

Standing at 176cm, Velardo was thrown into the ruck across her three games for the Jets, but often acted as a “fourth midfielder” around the stoppages, having to compete against much taller opponents. In her final game, the undersized Velardo had to go up against the 189cm Maggie Caris as the Jets went down to the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Velardo played her part though, racking up an equal match-high 25 disposals, as well as eight tackles, five hitouts, two inside 50s and four rebounds. Asked what it was like competing against the taller players in the ruck, Velardo said it was “definitely tough”.

I mean with the Jets list I was one of the taller ones in the group, however I wasn’t the tallest but still, amongst them,” she said. “So that’s where I kind of fit in there for the first games. “And it was definitely tough. “Coming up a few of the other girls, even in the last game, and played against Maggie Caris who had a good 20 centimetres on me. “But I also think it was really good, in a sense, having it pretty short career in footy. “I think it definitely help me to develop some more strategy.

“There were some times where I got up and I wouldn’t jump. “I just wait for it to be tapped to me, develop different strategies, more around the ball. “Like you said as an extra midfielder. “That’s the kind of the role I played. It was really tough, but I just think it was, almost a blessing in disguise to help me become more familiar with that midfield kind of role.”

Velardo finished the three games with an average of 18 disposals. five hitouts, five tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds per game which seemingly had her take to the game with ease.

“I’ve always loved all sports,” Velardo said. “Footy’s always been some part of my life. “We’ve always been avid followers, with the AFL and I’ve always kicked in the backyard with dad and my brother, so the skill set with kicking in the hands was always kind of there for me and I kind of just developed it a little bit more. “But, I think I’ve always kind of adapted to situations that I think one of the things I really made my goal.

“My role was to, just constantly ask for feedback from coaches each quarter, each training,” she said. “So I think that’s why that constant feedback I was asking for, I was able to develop, I think faster than I thought. “And definitely with the three games, I changed a lot. It was a little bit of surprise, because it’s obviously just still getting used to it all. “I’ve always kind of been able to pick up things pretty quickly, especially when I’m asking for feedback.”

Aside from a “couple of weekends” playing Auskick when she was younger, there was a school football tournament back in Year 9 that Velardo took the opportunity to participate in. Despite not having had experience in the sport, she ended up “MVPing” the tournament. But aside from winning the award, she was presented with a gift that she would treasure over the next few years.

“The award actually came with a Sherrin,” Velardo said. “And that was kind of my first actual Sherrin footy. “I like to use that every day now. “It’s torn and wrecked now I’ve had it for that long but I think that was pretty special receiving that. “And I think aside from winning, that just the experience of that game kind of kicked off the possibility that there could be something here.”

There certainly was something there as Velardo opted to take a chance on a sport she loved from that experience, rekindling the memories from that tournament. After several advances from friends, Velardo decided to finally give football a shot and it has already proved to be a winner with the Jets talent.

Still looking to build areas of her game such as her marking, Velardo said she can take advantage of a lot of one-on-one contests in the air given her basketball background, but just needed to stick a few more grabs. As for her strengths, she rated her composure with ball-in-hand and ability to see things down the ground and assess the situation around the stoppages well.

Unfortunately her season came to a grinding halt with the NAB League Girls postponed and then cancelled due to the global pandemic. It was tough on the teenager who had finally found her calling and had her sights set on making a career out of the sport.

“It was pretty heartbreaking really,” Velardo said. “I was absolutely having time my life, and they’re playing and everything was fantastic. “But I just started really settled in and find my feet in the role. “And even in the next few weeks, my coaches were talking now going start playing more of a midfielder role. “So it was pretty shattering. “It just killed me not being able to keep going.

“I just loved it so much, so it was really, really hard when it finished. “Especially even with school not having that sport outlet. “That’s always been in my life. “It was just really hard,I just want to get back into it as soon as we can. “No matter what I’m playing. “I just really miss it.”

The only positive out of the time off has been Velardo’s ability to really focus on her Year 12 studies, having a lighter burden to juggle. It has not stopped her missing the game she loves, but has been following Carlton – the team she supports in the AFL – during the lockdown period. Her greatest inspirations include Erin Phillips – an elite talent who has taken a similar pathway to Velardo albeit later in life – and then those closest to her.

“I’d probably have to say my parents that are closest (inspiration), and that’s that’s a bit cheesy, but dad especially taught me everything, with kicking and all that,” Velardo said. “I do love all sports and I can pick up all sports pretty quickly, but he’s always the one who taught me the fundamentals of the game. “We always sit and watch Carlton on the weekend and watch them play, and he always took him to the footy when I was younger as well. “Both my mum and dad have just been massive supports and taught me to follow what I love to do and just take a chance, and just show resilience and develop all those things as well.”

As for the next step in her football career, whether it is running around at the elite level, or at a state or local level, Velardo just wants to make the most of her choice to move into the sport.

“I really just want to learn the game as best up as best I can really,” she said. I want to develop great knowledge. “And at the end of the day, just become the best footballer I can. “Obviously in the long run be really successful at a club. “Obviously everyone’s goal is to win the premiership at some stage, but my immediate goal is just to be the best player I can be really and learn as much as I can from as many different people as I can. And just enhance all different aspects of my game.”

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: Jets, Power share 36 minor scores in Round 4 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 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.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 4
Saturday April 22, 2:00pm
Downer Oval

WESTERN JETS 3.10 | 4.11 | 5.15 | 9.21 (75)
GIPPSLAND POWER 1.3 | 5.9 | 9.12 | 9.15 (69)

GOALS:

Western: C. Thar 2, O. King, J. Hazik, Z. Butters, L. Hitch, J. Noonan, J. Dundon, B. Smokrovic
Gippsland:
M. McGannon 2, I. Mosquito 2, W. Broadbent 2, C. Henness, A. Quigley, N. Hogan

BEST:

Western: J. Dundon, Z. Butters, B. McGregor, S. Radovanovic, C. Thar, N. Stuhldreier
Gippsland:
W. Stephenson, S. Masterson, J. Hudson, T. Bindley, B. Motton, A. Hodge

Draftees in action:

Western: Tristan Xerri, Buku Khamis, Zak Butters, Xavier O’Halloran
Gippsland: Callum Porter, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito

A pair of teams looking to even up their negative records met in Round 4 of the 2017 TAC Cup season, with Gippsland and Western sitting on the precipice of the top eight at 1-2 apiece. The Power had just broken through for their first win of the campaign a week earlier, while the Jets’ sole set of premiership points were earned in Round 2.

Some notable bottom-age talent took the field, with current Port Adelaide wombo combo Zak Butters (Western) taking on Xavier Duursma (Gippsland), while the highly touted Xavier O’Halloran also lined up for the Jets, and soon-to-be Essendon debutant Irving Mosquito was stationed up forward for Gippsland. Arguably the most glaring absentees were Western’s best two top-age prospects, in Cam Rayner and Lachlan Fogarty.

In somewhat of an omen for things to come, Western made the better start, albeit an inaccurate one shooting towards the scoring end at Downer Oval, Williamstown. A Mosquito major split the Jets’ 3.10 with one quarter played, and ended up being the difference come half time after Gippsland enjoyed its own period of dominance in the second term. A four-point lead was extended to 21 at the final break, as the hosts continued to struggle in front of goal.

A mad scramble for the Jets’ kicking boots must have finally become fruitful over that break, as Western stormed home with four goals to nil in the fourth period to snatch victory by a single goal. Gun small midfielder Connor Thar got the ball rolling with two majors in the opening 10 minutes, before Jack Noonan sealed the deal with less than 60 seconds left on the clock.

Judah Dundon, whose late third term goal gave Western a sniff, was named his side’s best player ahead of Butters and Thar, while O’Halloran racked up 23 disposals. Will Stephenson was adjudged the top Power performer with Sean Masterson in tow, while Mosquito added two goals to Gippsland’s cause and Aiden Quigley had 25 touches.

The Jets weren’t able to scrape themselves into finals contention throughout the year, finishing the regular season in 10th at 6-12. Gippsland scrounged enough wins to do so with eight triumphs carrying the Power to seventh place. Their season was brought to an emphatic end at the hands of eventual premier Geelong, who beat them by 85 points in the first round of finals. Gippsland also won the reverse fixture between these two sides by 16 points in Round 17.

Featured Image: Mike Owen/AFL Media

Classic Contests: Tailwind helps Jets soar past Bushrangers

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 Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2013, when the two sides threw down in an epic elimination final.

2013 TAC Cup, Elimination Final
Sunday September 1, 2:00pm
Princes Park

WESTERN JETS 4.2 | 5.5 | 6.9 | 10.12 (72)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 7.1 | 8.4 | 9.6 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Western: D. Iaccarino 3, J. Sicily 2, M. Singleton, J. Greiser, C. Ellis, L. Hickey, B. Myers
Murray:
N. Holman 2, M. Gibbons, B. Squire, J. Sharp, N. Sneyd, M. Brett, M. King, J. Neagle

BEST:

Western: J. Greiser, D. Iaccarino, L. Hickey, H. Walshe, C. Ellis, D. O’Leary
Murray:
M. Gibbons, J. Cousins, N. Sneyd, J. Impey, N. Mellington, K. Cary

Draftees in action:

Western: James Sicily, Brett Bewley, Dillon Viojo-Rainbow, Jayden Laverde, Connor Menadue, Corey Ellis, Liam Duggan
Murray: Michael Gibbons, Nick Holman, Jarman Impey, Max King, Daniel Howe, Kayne Turner

The first week of NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) finals always delivers on upsets and high drama, with most sides near full strength and firing on all cylinders in hopes of impressing on the eve of draft time. Murray was the side hoping to throw a spanner in the works as it met Western for an elimination final clash in 2013, set to face one of the stronger Jets squads of the last decade – a team which beat them by 63 points in Round 8.

Streaks of form were noticeable in the recent form lines of either team, with Murray (8th, 9-8) having just snapped a three-game losing run to bring some slight winning form into finals, while Western (5th, 9-7-1) had its streak of three-consecutive victories cut at the worst possible time. But among a top eight where third was separated to eighth by just four points, anything was possible in the post-season.

The Bushrangers proved just that with a sizzling seven-goal opening term, and while they opened up a handy 17-point buffer, the Jets weren’t too far behind having managed four majors of their own. After such a frantic start, the scoring came to a grinding halt in the second and third periods, with either side managing just two goals each over the 50-minute period.

Western had cut the quarter-time gap by just two points in that time, but were soon about to flick the switch and boost past a fast-starting Bushrangers outfit. Four unanswered goals saw the Jets enact an even 24-point turnaround in the final term, seeing them get over the line by nine points. They managed six goals to Murray’s two after quarter time after promising a shootout, controlling the game well and opening it back up on their terms to advance to the semi finals.

Jake Greiser (31 disposals, one goal) and David Iaccarino (28 disposals, three goals) were named the victors’ best players, while a bottom-aged Corey Ellis was also thereabouts with 21 touches, and James Sicily chimed in with two goals. Michael Gibbons (29 disposals, one goal) found a heap of ball as usual to be name Murray’s best, with fellow draftee Jarman Impey also impactful. Blue-turned-Sun Nick Holman booted two goals for the Bushies.

While Murray’s season was brought to an end there and then, Western lasted only one more week as Calder bundled it out of the premiership race in the semi finals.

Draft Central All-Star Team: Western Jets

THE WESTERN Jets have produced some all-time greats of the game, while also laying claim to the production of a bunch of current elite level stars. In this All-Star Team of the AFL Era, Draft Central takes a look at how the best possible Jets side would line up, with a good field of players to select from over the last three decades.

THE TEAM

Bombers fans should get a good hint of nostalgia with legendary premiership players Dustin Fletcher and Matthew Lloyd making up the spine of our side. There are a good number of medium-small types who have provided plenty of highlights in their time, particularly in the forward half, with versatility a handy attribute of the squad overall. Remarkably, 11 of the selected players are still in the midst of their AFL careers, as a good boom across the 2000s lifted the region’s standing. The team as a whole, particularly the starting 18 is strong on all three lines, and stands up among many of the other Victorian metro programs.

DEFENCE

As mentioned, 400-gamer Fletcher slots in at full back to anchor the side, and is surrounded by some pretty handy support. The half-back flank pairing of Bachar Houli and James Sicily would prove a phenomenon in any modern-day lineup, with the former a two-time premiership player and one-time All Australian, while the latter is already a Hawthorn fan favourite. Two more current players, Adam Kennedy (GWS) and Kyle Hartigan (Adelaide) also earned their spots for over 100 games at the top level, along with former Demon, Daniel Ward.

MIDFIELD

Our proposed midfield core is strong, and features one of the more underrated players of the 2000’s, Heath Scotland at its heart. The former Pie and Blue was perhaps better known for his work off half-back and on the outside, but won plenty of ball and is the perfect leader to follow in the engine room.

He’s joined by expansion club marquees Callan Ward and Michael Rischitelli at the centre bounces, with both adding to the hardness of the side. Ward continues to go strong despite injury troubles, while Rischitelli has recently retired. Majak Daw is the ruckman they’ll feed off, with his journey back into the North Melbourne side one of the greatest sporting stories of the year.

On the wings, former Shannon Grant of Sydney and North Melbourne fame is joined by maligned Bulldog Lachie Hunter. Both are able to rotate through slightly different roles, but feature on the outside of a relatively solid midfield group.

FORWARD

You’d be hard pressed to find a much better full forward to base your attack around than Lloyd, who is the centrepiece of an exciting six-man forwardline. At his feet is Brad Johnson, one of the Western Bulldogs’ greatest players of all time. Not only did the pair boot nearly 1500 goals between them over their careers, but they also co-hosted the Auskick’n Around TV show on Fox Footy during the early-2000’s.

Johnson’s long-time teammate Daniel Giansiracusa features at half-forward, while current players Cam Rayner and Will Hoskin-Elliott bring some high-marking power and goal sense to the forward 50. Mature-aged success story and four-club veteran James Podsiadly rounds out the six, slotting in at centre half-forward as a very handy key position option.

DEPTH

A pair of Port Adelaide players have snuck in on the bench, with young livewire Zak Butters joining ‘The Cannon’ Trent McKenzie as solid depth. Josh Mahoney and Craig Ellis were solid players in their day and get a look-in, while cult figures Ty Zantuck and Lance Picioane also make the cut-off, certain to bring even more nostalgia to 90’s kids. Brent Prismall was a player right on the precipice, while the likes of Liam Duggan, Jayden Laverde, Corey Ellis and Daniel Venables could all enter the fold in future. 

Western Jets Player of the AFL Draft Era: Vote for yours on our Instagram channel

WESTERN JETS are up next in our Player of the AFL Era series which will be run through our Instagram channel starting at 12.30pm today. The West Adelaide Bloods All-Star voting was completed yesterday with Mark Ricciuto announced as the winner and captain of their All-Star side.

The Western Jets have some real stayers that make their All-Stars Team of the AFL Draft era a tough one to beat. With Essendon legends, Matthew Lloyd and Dustin Fletcher up either end and the likes of Brad Johnson and Shannon Grant also inside 50, there are both past and present stars to vote for when it comes to the Jets.

The voting will run over the next four days starting today, with the winner to be decided by Thursday night (unless extra time and the full 24 hours is needed in the final vote). The next club involved in the voting process is West Perth Falcons starting on Friday. All eligible players were selected thanks to the Draft Guru site.

Classic Contests: Menadue helps Jets hold off Ranges fightback

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 19 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Eastern Ranges and Western Jets. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2014, when the two sides met for a mid-season clash at Box Hill City Oval.

2014 TAC Cup, Round 10
Sunday June 15, 1:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

EASTERN RANGES 3.1 | 6.3 | 8.5 | 12.9 (81)
WESTERN JETS 4.1 | 9.3 | 12.4 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Weideman 3, P. Klep 2, S. Lennox 2, B. Hardwick 2, M. Traynor, R. Sheridan-Ferrie, L. Sverns
Western:
B. Coletta 5, L. Spiteri 3, C. Menadue 2, M. Orr, L. Delahey, R. Stuhldreier

BEST:

Eastern: L. Hannon, D. Crocker, J. Collins, J. Healy, M. Traynor, A. Cotte
Western:
B. Myers, C. Menadue, B. Monk, B. Coletta, M. Orr, L. Spiteri

Draftees in action:

Eastern: Blake Hardwick, Sam Weideman
Western: Connor Menadue

Only percentage separated the Western Jets (third) and Eastern Ranges (sixth) before their Round 10 TAC Cup clash in 2014, making for what would be a scintillating contest. Both sides boasted 5-4 records to that point and had accumulated their wins in identical fashion. After dropping their first three games for the season, they would embark on five-game winning runs, before both going down in Round 9. With five teams on five wins creating a logjam among the top eight, premiership points were at a premium.

Plenty of draftees came out of either region throughout the 2013/14 period too, though names like Christian Petracca and Ryan Clarke would miss for Eastern, while Western went in without Liam Duggan, Corey Ellis, Jayden Laverde, and Dillon Viojo-Rainbow. Of the future AFL-listed players to take the field were bottom-agers Blake Hardwick and Sam Weideman for the Ranges, with Connor Menadue the lone prospect in that category for Western.

In a high-scoring opening term, Western found a way to edge ahead with four goals to three, acclimatising well to conditions on the road. The Jets would extend their even one-goal lead out to three at the main break, and it seemed as though they would be able to cruise home as the buffer sat at a very handy 23 points heading into the final change.

But Eastern would not go down without a fight, and managed to produce its best term of football at the death. Four unanswered goals helped the Ranges sneak ahead with under five minutes left to play, and it looked for all hope that they simply had more left in the tank – not to mention all the momentum. In need of a hero, Menadue stepped up for Western to boot his side’s only major for the quarter and save the Jets from heartbreak, as they held on to win by four points.

Menadue’s efforts (31 disposals, six marks, five tackles, 2.3) were good enough only for second-best afield honours behind teammate Billy Myers (29 disposals, nine marks, seven tackles). Brandon Coletta (five goals) and Leigh Spiteri (three) were dangerous inside forward 50 for the winners, combining for over half their total goals.

Skipper Luke Hannon was named Eastern’s best for his 31 disposals and 12 tackles, in front of a debuting Jayden Collins. Weideman showed his high-level potential with three goals, while Hardwick added two in a role much different to what he plays for Hawthorn, and Matthew Traynor found plenty of the ball (26 disposals, one goal).

The Jets would go on to add three more wins to its regular season tally to finish with a positive record (9-8) in sixth, but were bundled out in an elimination final at the hands of Dandenong. Eastern slipped as well, missing out on finals by two games with a 7-10 record to slot in to the unwanted ninth place.

Classic Contests: Jets hold off late Pioneers charge

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 Western Jets and Bendigo Pioneers. In this edition we wind back the clock to 2016, when Western was forced to hold off a late Bendigo fightback at Downer Oval.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 7
Sunday May 15, 12:00pm
Downer Oval

WESTERN JETS 1.1 | 4.6 | 11.9 | 11.11 (77)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 9.9 (63)

GOALS:

Western: S. Syme 2, O. Junker 2, B. Graham 2, S. Griffiths, R. Ham, J. Dundon, D. Foley, T. Xerri.
Bendigo:
J. Rosengren 2, B. Whitford 2, J. Exell, J. Atley, C. Jones, B. Blake, J. Thomas.

BEST:

Western: O. Junker, D. Foley, R. Ham, J. Dundon, F. Campisi, J. Cotter
Bendigo:
K. Farrell, Z. Norris, K. Kirby, B. Blake, J. Atley, J. Exell

Draftees in action:

Western: Oscar Junker, Tristan Xerri 
Bendigo:
Joe Atley, Kayle Kirby, Angus Schumacher, Kane Farrell

Both the Western Jets and Bendigo Pioneers may have been languishing down the wrong end of the ladder throughout 2014, but that did not stop them from delivering an entertaining clash in Round 7 of the TAC Cup season. The Jets, who would host the game at Downer Oval, came in carrying a 1-5 record. After trumping Oakleigh in Round 1, they dropped five-consecutive games to sit 10th. Bendigo was poised just above them on the ladder at 2-4, and looked to be on the way up having snapped a three-game losing streak in Round 6 against Eastern.

With the opportunity at hand to pick up points against more level opposition, both sides enjoyed their own runs of momentum. Bendigo edged ahead at the first break, but Western hit back to gain its own eight-point advantage to half time. The scoring was relatively steady with just seven goals on the board between either side, but that would soon be about to change.

Games of two completely contrasting halves are commonplace in football, but what ensued in this clash was a second half consisting of two polar-opposite quarters. The Jets looked to be soaring to an easy victory having slammed home seven goals to Bendigo’s one in the third period, opening up a 47-point buffer. Though the margin seemed unassailable and proved as much in the end, the Pioneers gave the unlikely comeback a good crack in the run home with five goals to nil. Despite the late scare, Western held on to win by 14 points for its second win of the season.

Former North Melbourne midfielder Oscar Junker was named best afield in his side’s win, finishing with 26 disposals, six marks, and two goals to his name. The likes of Daniel Foley (27 disposals) and Judah Dundon (29) also found plenty of the ball. Tristan Xerri, another North Melbourne draftee, kicked a goal and managed 13 hitouts.

The cream rose to the top for Bendigo, with Port Adelaide forward Kane Farrell (25 disposals, eight marks) named the Pioneers’ best. Fellow future draftees Kayle Kirby (14 disposals) and Joe Atley (22, eight tackles) were not far behind, while Jamieson Sheahan and Darby Henderson found a heap of the ball as usual despite the loss.

Western went on to jump Bendigo in the final standings, finishing 10th on the back of a 5-13 record, with Bendigo slumping to 11th at 4-14 for the year. The Round 16 reverse fixture at Queen Elizabeth Oval proved a defining game for the Jets, as they won by 32 points on the road to gain a consolation ladder position.

Classic Contests: Cassar, Honey star as Jets soar past the Devils

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 Western Jets and Tasmania Devils. In this edition, we wind the clock back just one year to Round 5 of 2019, when the Jets soared to a comfortable win away from home.

2019 NAB League, Round 5
Sunday April 28, 11:45am
UTAS Stadium

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)
WESTERN JETS 2.0 | 4.3 | 7.8 | 10.13 (73)

GOALS:

Tasmania: T. Penwright, L. Gadomski, I. Chugg.
Western:
A. Manton 3, J. Honey 2, E. Ford 2, A. Clarke, C. White, J. Horo.

BEST:

Tasmania: O. Burrows-Cheng, P. Walker, M. McGuinness, B. Gordon, L. Viney, O. Shaw
Western: 
D. Cassar, K. Borg, J. Kellett, J. Horo, W. Kennedy, L. Rocci

Draftees in action:

Tasmania: Matthew McGuinness
Western:
 Josh Honey

Two sides with a couple of wins already under their belts went head-to-head early in last year’s NAB League campaign, with Tasmania hosting the Western Jets at UTAS Stadium in Launceston. The Devils had made a positive start in their maiden full-time season, enjoying a bye in Round 1 and bouncing back from their Round 2 loss to take a 2-1 record heading into this clash. Western sat similarly poised at 2-2, having just secured a rebound victory over the Northern Territory a week earlier.

While the two regions would lay claim to a pair of draftees each come the end of the year, only one would take the field on either side; with North Melbourne rookie Matt McGuinness lining up for the home side, while Carlton recruit Josh Honey ran through midfield for Western. The Jets were missing Emerson Jeka, with Tasmania also down a tall target as Jackson Callow came out of the side. Fellow Academy-based bottom-agers Oliver Davis and Sam Collins were also absent alongside Mitch O’Neill in a blow to the Devils’ chances.

The losses seem to take toll early, as the Devils failed capitalise on their domination of the territory and possession. A 20-minute goalless patch ensued after debutant Isaac Chugg put through the game’s first goal, only for Western to hit back twice within the final five minutes of the opening term to hit the front. It seemed to sink the Devils a touch, as they went on to go goalless throughout the second stanza, while giving up another two goals and a 15-point deficit at half time – albeit in a low-scoring contest.

Lachlan Gadomski broke Tasmania’s hour-long goal drought with a major nine minutes into the third term, but it proved a feeble form of reply as Western continued to pile on the scoreboard pressure and extended the margin to 31 points at three quarter time. It was an unassailable gap, and the Jets only further ensured it would be a bridge too far as they kicked away to a nine-goal lead, only to settle for the final 47-point margin.

Darcy Cassar ran the show off half-back for Western, proving a key player in shifting the early momentum back into the Jets’ favour. He finished with 31 disposals, 13 marks, and eight rebound 50s, while Honey booted two goals from his 25 touches. Tasmanian pair Bailey Gordon and Patrick Walker matched that feat to be their sides’ leading ball winners. Archi Manton led the goalkicking stakes with three goals, followed by bottom-aged Eddie Ford and Honey on two. Oliver Burrows-Cheng and McGuinness were named among the Devils’ best.

Tasmania would go on to add just two wins to its record across the season, finishing in 12th spot at 4-11 and bowing out during Wildcard Round to Calder. The Jets earned a seventh-place finish, storming into finals where they upset Northern in the elimination stage, but had their run ended by Gippsland in the semi finals a week later.