Following an intense pre-season and record numbers on the track, the Hampton Rovers are as ready as they?ll ever be to take the step up to B Section when the 2009 VAFA season kicks off Saturday April 18th against University Blacks at Boss James Reserve.
The Rovers last competed in the second top division in 2003 and now following two promotions in as many years, look forward to what is shaping up to be a high competitive section.
The calibre of ex-AFL players floating around in B section is staggering, including the likes of Brett Voss, Matthew Robbins, Nathan Burke, Steven Greene, Charlie Gardiner, Simon Beaumont, Kent Kingsley, Rayden Tallis, Rory Hilton and even Rob Harvey who will play a number of games with Old Haileybury.
While the Rovers haven?t recruited any big names of AFL quality, the club has done what has worked for them in the past couple of seasons – bring back former players to the club. Leeroy DeBoer, Chris Gleeson and Rory White just to name a few while a few new recruits will be handy additions to the senior team. With no players of any significant leaving Boss James, theres belief the team that went the first half of 2008 unbeaten can be competitive in the higher standard that is B Section. Following two successful seasons, Rovers coach and VFL Liston Medallist Gary Sheldon will expect nothing less from his chargers.
The club has taken the initiative to introduce a new Thirds team in 2009 playing in the VAFA Club XVIII competition. Its hoped the new side will improve the standard of the Reserves while providing an outlet for players not up to the standard of B Section or unable to commit to a full season or two nights of training a week.
The addition of a new team has help the club achieve record numbers on the training track during pre-season. To date the club has received over 45 new registrations and currently have a total of over 130 active registered players, while up to 80 players have been seen at some training sessions. New players are still welcome to join the club, especially for the new Thirds team.
Off the field, the Hampton Rovers continues to thrive with increased membership, further improvement of facilities and the signing of a new major sponsor in Bendigo Bank for the next three years.
It promises to be another great year at the club, and it all gets underway this Saturday with a big triple-header at Boss James Reserve. The Under 19s will open their campaign Parkdale at 9:30am, followed by the Reserves then the main game at 2pm which will see the Hampton Rovers take on 2008 A Grade side University Blacks, while the Thirds take on Ormond at Elsternwick Park.
Two away trips follow against St Bernards and St Kevins before returning home against Old Carey. Old Melburnians in Round 6 and Old Haileybury in Round 8 both promise to be big home games while we must wait until the final round to host long-time rivals Ormond.
Bookings for the opening Presidents Luncheon on Saturday April 18th can be made online by clicking here.
Other Round One B Section games see Ormond v St Bernards, Old Melburnians v Old Camberwell, Old Haileybury v Old Trinity and St Kevins v Old Carey.