Officer Football Club had a brilliant season in 2021, with consistent improvement seeing all sides finish inside the top four on their respective ladders.
As one of the strongest sides in Hallam & Bayswater Truck Centres Division One, the Kangaroos had some great wins to set themselves up as premiership contenders if finals were able to be played.
Strong performances against Monbulk and Seville were the best performances from the men of Starling Road as they put the rest of the competition on notice.
Club president Nick McLellan said he was pleased with the improvement of his side this year and holds the belief that Officer’s best football was the best of anyone in Division One.
“I was confident that we could have beaten anyone in finals,” he said.
“The win against Monbulk in particular demonstrated how far we’ve come as a club to grow in performances and prove our consistency.
“We built a really solid fitness base with the boys and they seemed to get better in each quarter and in every game.”
Another positive from Officer’s season was the performance of newcomer Anthony Bernardo who took out the Harold Ramage Medal as a dual best & fairest winner.
A classy midfielder who gets a lot of the ball, Bernardo initially arrived at the club for the 2020 season which never took place, but has settled in well, both socially and culturally since his arrival.
“I’m immensely proud of him,” McLellan beamed.
“His work rate and what he does away from the club is immense.
“He’s a very likeable person, always has a smile on his face and has really bought into everything we believe in at the club.”
Other standout players this year were the likes of ruckman Dylan Chapman who took out the club best & fairest award, Jake Ingaliso, Jesse Longmuir, Luke Smaluch, Jacob Brady, Riley Clark and Lachlan Ward.
The women’s football side enjoyed a strong run in Kärcher Women’s Division Two, winning five games to finish in third on the ladder and give themselves an opportunity to play finals for the first time since its formation as a football team.
The team was boosted by the recruitment of young gun Tali Verhoeven who dominated to take out the league best & fairest award.
“Tali is a superstar, she runs well and as far as women’s footy is concerned, she is the complete package,” McLellan explained.
“She’s got great hands, a long kick and judged the ball really well as it was coming in so she could hit it at full pace.
“She joined us due to a mutual connection and straight away, you could see she was a step ahead of others, not only in the team but in the league.”
The 2021 season provided many challenges for all clubs from an operational perspective and in volunteer numbers, but Officer still worked hard to ensure things could run as smoothly as possible.
The Kangaroos worked hard over the off-season to recruit more volunteers to help with the workload around the club which was greatly appreciated by McLellan.
“Motivation was a real problem coming into 2021 for everyone but once we got the ball rolling, the amount of work done by our committee and volunteers was fantastic,” he said.
“It was amazing what we were able to achieve, as well as the league and all clubs, given the circumstances we were in because although there was half as much footy, the workload was twice as much.”
Looking into the off season, and 2022, the Kangaroos plan to host functions aimed at providing opportunities for players to come together socially and reengage after a long period of not being together.
Once restrictions ease, the preparations for pre-season training will take place with a start hoped to be in November.
An exciting group of U19’s players currently exist at the club and it is hoped that opportunities to play senior football in 2022 will be afforded to them, given they are skilled and very able footballers.
With most of the playing group expected to stay, the club aims to advance on the hard work put in over the last few years and play finals in 2022.
McLellan wished to thank all club supporters who have stuck by through tough times over the last few years in addition to the committee, coaches, volunteers and all players who commit a large amount of time to helping the club.
“I would like to thank them for everything they’ve done in supporting the club to make sure that not only are we financially stable, but for what we have achieved, not just internally but focussing outwards and supporting local charities over the last few years,” McLellan said.
“Additionally, I would like to thank all of our sponsors for sticking by us during tough times and AFL Outer East for doing its best to run a competition in very challenging circumstances.
“It was a difficult task but we are really grateful to them for the work undertaken to facilitate a competition and we are proud to be a part of this league.”
|Hallam & Bayswater Truck Centres Division One||4th||6||3|
|Coates Division One Reserves||2nd||7||2|
|Box Hill Institute U19 Division One||2nd||8||1|
|Kärcher Women’s Division Two||3rd||5||4|