2018 will forever be remembered with the words spoken by Senior Coach Nick Bourke as he addressed the players after the epic Preliminary Final win; ‘We’re in B Grade’. Whilst our trophy cabinet may not have received any new additions, this season was another giant step forward for the Old Geelong Football Club, giving us many reasons to celebrate.

Before I go any further I would like to thank the Committee: Jimmy Legoe, Sarah Kirkwood, Cathie Kemp, Nick Betts, Dougal Morrison, Jake Ward, Rorey James, Nick Edwards, John Graham, James Cole and the one and only Peter Lemon. Committee Member Alistair Ewart tendered his resignation and we thank him for his service. Before I leave the Committee I would especially like to thank the wives, girlfriends and husbands of Committee members because it is time spent away from these people which allow our Club to function and operate and without this support we would not be in such a fortunate position, so to Sarah Legoe, Jeremy Kirkwood, Simon Kemp, Lauren Betts, Milly Stockdale, Mandy Edwards, Julianne Mulholland & Ana Cole and my wife Jen, thank you for your support of the Old Geelong Football Club.

A special thank you to our 198 loyal Pivot Members. The club simply would not operate without your support and we look forward to seeing you at Como Park in 2019.

To our sponsors: our major corporate partner Wiliams Batters, OGGA, OGCA, Melbourne Venue Company, Windsor Community Bank, MC Herd, Rex Gorrell, Wilsons Real Estate, Arcadia Hotel, Angus the Bull Wines, Dellatite Wines and Emma and Toms. Thank you for your continued support.

The Committee made the investment into increasing our health and wellbeing offering by engaging the services of Optimus Health. While the Club may have resembled a hospital ward at stages of the year, the quality of care and rehabilitation services provided to our players was without peer in the VAFA. Thank you to Bryan Robertson from Optimus and we look forward to partnering with them again in 2019.

Our mighty Oggettes had another terrific season with our Seniors making the semi-final while our all-conquering Reserves team fell at the final hurdle in the Grand Final. The Oggettes were amazingly led once again by Senior Coach Toby Boyle, Reserves coach Robbie Stephens, and assisted by Sam Goddard and women’s Head of Football Nick Edwards. Before I continue on with our women’s program, I believe there is no coincidence that the recent influx of high quality male players has coincided with the strength of our women’s program. The positive impact on our Club and culture that our wonderful girls and their parents has had cannot be understated. This has set us apart from other many other VAFA clubs, who have not integrated their female programs as fully as the OGFC. I believe we offer a women’s program which is the envy of not only the VAFA but within Victoria and we are exceptionally fortunate to have everyone involved.

The strength of our playing list can be highlighted by our Vice Captain Ally Kirkwood and Amelia Cronin being invited to train with the VAFA ‘Big V’ squad. Furthermore, six of our girls, namely Annabelle Scott, Liv Vesley, Izzy Currenti, Tilly Arthur, Annabelle Shannon and Steph Hird were all selected on VFLW playing lists this season. Losing a final, let alone a Grand Final hurts, however Toby, Robbie and Sam have begun preparations for 2019 in earnest and we will look to again strengthen our playing list and work towards the ultimate goal for our Oggettes.

Turning to men’s football, 2018 was the year that the Club entered VAFA Premier B for the first time since 1960. Months of hard work culminated in a 3rd placed finish after the home and away season, then a truly remarkable finals series. A grinding 7 point win over Old Camberwell in an Elimination Final was followed by a truly epic 1 point win in the Preliminary Final vs Williamstown CYMS, cuing promotion and mass delirium on the ground and in the change rooms after. I could go into great details about each of these matches, however if anyone has not read Jon Andersons match report following the Preliminary Final, I urge you to head to to relive the day.

As is the cyclical nature of amateur football, when a club hits a peak such as promotion or a premiership, you can be forgiven to think that there may be a natural churn of the playing list. A brief analysis of our young list will instil a confidence that our boys are just getting started and we will retain the vast majority of our players heading into season 2019. The average age of our Senior Grand Final team was just 23, indicating that the best football is still to come for many of our players. Thanks must go to our men’s senior coaching panel, led by Nick Bourke, Nick Abbott, Michael Holland and Joe Couch. Their dedication and drive to improve our club has helped deliver a result not seen at the OGFC for 60 years.

Led by our Captain Cal Wood who unfortunately suffered a broken arm in round 17 and ably supported by Vice Captain Tom Balcombe there was a band of young OG’s that acquitted themselves brilliantly in 2018. Sam and Jack Anderson, Matthew Bird, Matt Kirkwood, Jack Sheridan, Will Horsfall, Will Sloss, Christian Hatzis, Liam Maiden and, in my humble opinion, the best player in C Grade, Jon Simson are but a few who have played consistently excellent football throughout 2018.

I would like to congratulate Andy Leahy who played his 100th game this year and becomes a life member of the Club.

A big change made this year was having Nick Bourke coach both the Senior and Reserve means teams, with the stated goal of achieving an overarching game plan and better integration between the sides. The second placed finish and excellent Grand Final performance was testament to this decision, and I’m certain we’ve seen the development of many young players that can push onto Senior football in coming years. This is also true for our Thirds team, led by Toby Blatchford, who despite just missing finals, won 8 games and provided an ideal environment for those players seeking to push into higher grades, or play more socially.

Our Under 19’s had their best season since 2015 registering 7 wins and I am sure that we will see many of the boys back in the hoops in 2019. Co-Coaches Charlie Mann and Hugh Coltman’s extensive relationships with players coming from both GGS and Geelong College helped us turn this program around, and I’m certain we are headed for a stronger performance again in 2019.

Finally, to everyone involved in the Old Geelong Football Club this year thank you for your ongoing support and as Season 2018 draws to a close let’s remember the memorable words from Nick Bourke: We’re in B Grade.

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