Sunday marked the end of an era for Port Melbourne, as the club’s Development League team exited the field for the final time after being eliminated by Williamstown.
The 28-point loss came off the back of a recent decision by AFL Victoria to abolish the competition at season’s end.
The Borough have a long and proud history in the Reserves/Development League competition, having won 14 Division 1 ‘Seconds’ Premierships since its official inception in 1928 – the second most behind Coburg.
Their most recent Premiership success came in 2004, which featured a side containing the likes of current captain Toby Pinwill, club legend Ryan McMahon, and North Melbourne-listed players Scott McMahon and Shane Harvey (pictured, above).
In the last decade, there have also been several individual success stories come out of the Borough’s Reserves, with Josh Gibson (225 AFL games), Sam Dwyer (39 AFL games) and Callum Sinclair (63 AFL games) among those who were plying their trade in the side before being recruited to play at the highest level.
This year’s team, led by Coach Trent McMicking, played some terrific football en route to finishing the home-and-away season in second position, before being bundled out of the Finals race by this Sunday’s Grand Finalists Casey Demons and Williamstown, respectively.
Impressive key forward Sam De Soysa led the way in attack with 27 goals across the year ahead of Billy Hogan on 24, whilst the final ever Graham Barfoot Medal for the side’s Best and Fairest is expected to be a wide open, hotly-contested affair.
Alex Urban, Anthony Vella, Jeremy Gleeson, Mitch Hayes and Mitch Golby can be expected to poll strongly; whilst Mitch Wooffindin, Harvey Hooper and Ash Krakauer have all been prominent in the Development League this year, but have each elevated their game enough in recent weeks to seemingly cement their spot in Sunday’s Senior Preliminary Final against Williamstown.
Ruckman Chris Carey also toiled away strongly in the side, before making the most of his Senior opportunity when being awarded the inaugural Frank Johnson Tribute Medal on debut in Round 11 against Casey.
Although remaining saddened that our Development League journey has ended, we look ahead with optimism to the next chapter in our club’s history and hope to see as much of our 2017 playing list as possible remain with us as we enter season 2018.
We would also like to acknowledge Trent McMicking (Coach), Rick Waters (Backs Coach), Vinnie Turcinovich (Forwards Coach), Mark Lafferty (Midfield Coach), and all other training and support staff who have looked after the boys so well this year.
Port Melbourne – Reserves/Development League Premierships (Division 1):
1944, 1949, 1951, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1996, 2004.
BELOW: This year’s Development League team share a smile in the rooms following their season-ending 28-point defeat to Williamstown on Sunday (Image: Jenny Tserkezidis).