In a nutshell
The boys believed finals were achievable this season, but a host of injuries and dropping some games to lesser sides saw PHAFC languishing in 9th spot at 4-8. With the news from VAFA that 3 teams would be going down this year it looked as though we were in for a relegation battle if we didn’t lift; and lift we did! With every week a must-win game the boys managed 6 in a row to make the finals for the first time since 2010, they then turned around a 3 qtr time deficit against UHS to storm into the Preliminary Final before eventually going down to the D2 bound Hawthorn.
What we said in the pre-season
We thought that with our best team on the park we could challenge any team. Losing Ben Leske, Rhys Gregory and Ricky Webb was disappointing and the great Dave Burnside’s retirement left a big hole to fill. Nevertheless we were determined to make 2016 a big year, pre-season camp was a great start and the recruitment machine went into overdrive! Finals was always the aim for this season.
For one, getting youth into the senior team was a key part of the success this season. River Carroll, Ryal Yak, Eddie Nyary, Ben Circosta, Luke Stubbs and the others in this age bracket are what we can build the future senior team around. Also the additions of some likely Irish footballer helped the cause, the ‘Fig’ was a revelation this year and we also saw improved efforts from players like Dec Nannery, Barry Cox, David Kilmartin and Darragh Leonard.
At times this year we failed to stop the top sides getting a run on, earlier in the season some games were over in the blink of an eye as the opposition slammed on too many unanswered goals. PHAFC will also spend a fair chunk of its pre-season working on its accuracy after its poor goalkicking cost it a couple more wins this year.
B-. In wins and losses it was a tale of two halves. The boys would lament some losses but will also be buoyed by the barnstorming finish to the season winning 7 games in a row at one point, there is still much to work on but season 2016 might be looked back upon as the rebirth of PHAFC.
Coach Ant Voyage steered the ship beautifully in 2016, by his own admission it was a make or break season for him. Ever the optimist he went back to basics mid-year to arrest the side’s form slump. In his 4th year at the club the coach definitely matured and grew even more into the role. The game plan worked brilliantly for the second half of the year and was clear vindication for all the hard work Ant has put in over the years, both on-field and off-field.
The captaincy once again went to Adam Collet and he led from the front in every game, the leadership group of Ben Circosta, James O’Neill and Aidan Reynolds were also well performed, particularly in the 2 games where Adam was out injured. The leadership group was at all the training sessions and supported their team mates all through the year.
Very hard to call this one! Ben Circosta stepped up this year and played every game, Ryal Yak had a sensational debut year at the club, Euan Edwards trimmed down and was a rock across half back and Adam Collett was his usual dominating self – it’s going to be a fascinating vote count come tomorrow night!
Dom Mitchell: after 4 years at the club Dom switched to his favourite No.15 and had a breakout year for the club. Dom played every game for the season either in the midfield or on the wing. His run and carry were a crucial part of the team’s performance in the latter half of the year. Dom (along with Adam Collett) was rewarded with selection in the D3 team of the year.
River Carrol: River came to us and has had terrific support from the club in finding a new job and a place to call home; in return he delivered an excellent debut year for the club. River played all 20 games and kicked 26 goals, he was a livewire around goal and we look forward to big things from him in 2017.
Luke Stubbs shoulder injury against Hawthorn was one of the low points of the year, the reigning Best & Fairest was taken out by a Hawthorn player and didn’t feature again in the 2016 campaign.
Elimination Final: UHS 9.14 68(80) defeated by Power House 12.13 (85) @ Garvey Oval
There are so many games that could have been mentioned here, but a come from behind victory in a final takes it! PHAFC were superb in the final quarter of this game led by Nick Nagel who bagged 5 goals.
a Round 10 loss to bottom of the ladder Parkside was definitely the low point, the 5 point defeat really stung as we did everything possible to throw away the game. An inaccurate 7.14 cost us dearly.
The big questions
How will the boys attack the 2017 pre-season after a thrilling end to the year?
Which of the youngsters/oldies will hold their spots in next year’s best side?
Who can PHAFC recruit over the offseason to bolster the Senior side?