9-0: Mid-Season Report

The Hampton Rovers have had the best start to a season in the club’s 80 year history, winning nine from nine, and it’s not just on the field where the club has been strong in 2008.

After the disappointment of a heavy Grand Final loss in 2007, the club looked to move forward and plan for a strong 2008 season back up in C grade. After his impressive first year at the club, former Coburg VFL player Gary Sheldon was re-appointed as senior coach for the new season. From there, a number of recruits returned to the club, however there was still a big question mark over how the Rovers would perform after being promoted, with many people in VAFA circles writing the team off.

Changes occurred off the field as well with Tim Wilson installed as new Senior President and a number of new people on the committee, with a fresh approach to the new season and a new club culture.

The first big test came right away with a Grand Final replay against Oakleigh at Boss James Reserve. Rovers captain Matt Lawrence kicked 8 goals to lead the Rovers to a convincing 26-point win over the 2007 premiers and have the perfect start to the season.

From there, things went from strength to strength, with more players returning and signing up to the club, including Ryan Semmel who had kicked 5 goals the previous week in A Section. The wins kept coming, a 97 point thrashing to Monash followed by a 52 point win over Mazenod. Three from three and the Rovers sat nicely on top.

Next up it was Parkdale away, a team the Rovers had never previously beaten. However on this occasion, it was Hampton finally breaking their hoodoo with a gritty 11 point victory.

No doubt the highlight so far of the season came in Round 5 with the Rovers taking on local rivals Ormond. Two of the oldest and proudest district clubs in the VAFA going head-to-head for the Buxton Cup in the VAFA Rivalry Round and AFL Community Football Weekend, celebrating 150 Years of Australian Football. It was first vs second and well over 1,000 people attended the big game at Boss James Reserve. The sold-out pre-game luncheon featured Mick Malthouse, David Parkin and Ross Smith.

The media coverage was huge, with a big story on Channel 7 News that night, article in the Herald Sun and coverage before and after the game in the Bayside Leader. It was a game the Rovers were pumped to win, and they put on a show, up by 53 points in the last quarter. However Ormond kicked several late goals to reduce the winning margin for the Rovers to 15 points. Still, a win’s a win!

From there, it was a long trip to Sunbury to take on Rupertswood in the wet. After being down and out, the Rovers somehow found a way to win, it was a similar story the following week against Melbourne High, with some rating that win as one of their best.

Round 8 saw the Rovers take on arch rivals Ajax at the Boss in what was tipped to be a tough contest. However with their full complement of VFL stars on display, the Rovers dominated to defeat the second placed Ajax by 71 points. A week’s break, then yet another win, this time against Whitefriars, to mark the half way point of 2008.

It’s fair to say no one could have imagined such a great start to the season, especially after being promoted. However that’s less than half the job done and the second round of games will no doubt be much tougher with the Rovers now the hunted team in C Section.

Looking at the stats, the Hampton Rovers sit three games clear on top of the ladder, followed by Ormond, Ajax and Monash Blues. The Rovers have the most points for (1096) and least against (766), while the club shares the most home wins (all) with Ormond and also has the most away wins (all).

Surprisingly, the Rovers are one of five senior teams still undefeated at the half way point with Old Essendon (B), North Old Boys (D1), Williamstown (D3), & West Brunswick (D4) also without a loss.

The support has been great from everyone so far in 2008 and we would like to keep things going strong in the second half of the season. All supporters are encouraged to keep attending games in their usual big numbers and attending the pre-game luncheons and social functions. If you would like to financially support the club, it’s not too late to purchase a club membership or become a sponsor.

The Run Home
Rd10 – Sat 21 June v Oakleigh, Away
Rd11 – Sat 28 June v Ormond, Away
Rd12 – Sat 5 July v Monash Blues, Home
Rd13 – Sat 12 July v Melbourne High, Home
Rd14 – Sat 26 July v Ajax, Away
Rd15 – Sun 3 August v Whitefriars, Away
Rd16 – Sat 9 August v Parkdale, Home
Rd17 – Sat 16 August v Mazenod, Away
Rd18 – Sat 23 August v Rupertswood, Home

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