Rovers mid-year Review

Following the disappointment of being relegated from C Section, the Hampton Rovers Amateur Football Club were keen to turn their fortunes around in 2007. This year was the first since 1995 that the Rovers had been down to D Section, and an obvious goal was to repeat the feats of 1995 – a senior premiership.

A number of changes were made at the club, most noticeably the appointment of former Coburg captain and VFL Liston Medal winner, Gary Sheldon as senior coach. A number of new and returning players joined the Rovers assault on 2007 success including Rob Alexander from Port Melbourne, Leigh Fletcher from Sandringham, Anton Duddy & Luke Dallas returning from playing in Cairns and Mark Ferrari.

After a delayed start due to Melbourne’s drought, the 2007 VAFA season finally kicked-off on 28th of April at Boss James Reserve with the Rovers taking on fellow relegation side, Old Paradians. The Rovers made their intentions clear for the new season with a crushing 104-point victory placing Hampton on top of the ladder.

It was back to reality in round 2 as the Rovers went down in a thriller to Mentone in wet conditions. The Rovers trailed for most of the game until late in the final quarter when they kicked 3 goals in quick concession to take a 14 point lead. However the home side returned serve with 4 late goals of their own taking the 4 points.

The Rovers returned to Boss James in Round 3 and it was another thrashing – this time Yarra Valley, by 163 points. After 3 games, Rovers full forward and 2007 captain Matthew Lawrence was in fine form with 21 goals.

Round 4 saw the Rovers make the long trek out to Bulleen Templestowe playing on a ground hardly fit for senior football. It was a lacklustre performance by Hampton going down by 31 points. That was the start of a 3 game losing streak with Peninsula Old Boys and Old Geelong also defeating the Rovers in rounds 5 and 6. While the Peninsula game was another poor performance, the Old Geelong match was an improvement with the home side stealing the win very late. That would be the last loss for the Rovers in the final few rounds to complete the first half of the season.

Round 7 saw the Rovers take another long trip out the other side of Melbourne to take on Therry Penola. A number of words could be used to describe this result: Thrashing, Trouncing, Hammering, Hiding. But we?ll go one step further and use Annihilation. The Rovers got up by a massive 201 points, putting on 38 goals including a 15 goal first quarter. It was a record winning margin for the seniors and just 1 point short of the Rovers all-time biggest score when they defeated Glenhuntly 36.29.245 to 8.6.54 in 1995. Matthew Lawrence booted his first bag of 10 goals while Rob Alexander was best on for the Rovers.

The Rovers faced a tougher test in Round 8 when they hosted third-placed Prahran at Boss James Reserve. It was an impressive display by the home side as they got up by 43 points squaring the ledger at 4-4. Again it was another strong opening term with the Rovers kicking 10 goals.

Round 9 was even tougher with the Rovers taking on second-placed Oakleigh, the terrible condition of the ground didn?t help anyone’s cause. This time the game lived up to all expectations. After giving away a 5 goal lead, the Rovers powered back and got up in a thriller by 3 points. It was an impressive win by Hampton and placed them as genuine premiership contenders.

With a number of new players and a new coach at the start of the season, the team has taken some time to gel, however the Rovers are now playing great footy and things look positive for the remainder of the year. Rovers home games are attracting large crowds as always at Boss James Reserve and there’s a much better atmosphere around the club than in the past few years.

The final 9 rounds are set to be tough with the Rovers taking no game lightly. If the current form continues, all bodes well for an exciting end to the season with the Rovers super keen to take part in finals action.

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