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BFNL Weekend Preview - Round 1, 2024

Round 1 Football Preview with 'Scoop'

With anticipation at an all-time high, Round 1 offers plenty of tantalising contests to kick off the 2024 season!

Bacchus Marsh




Last time they met - Bacchus Marsh 82 def. Ballarat 80 (Maddingley Park, Round 18 2023)

The Cobras are in good hands following the appointment of new coach Dennis Armfield and offsider Andrejs Everitt as they prepare to host Chris Maple's young Swans at Maddingley Park.

Despite both sides missing finals last year, the future looks bright with a host of young talent making up a majority of game day senior lists.

So where do you start tipping a winner here?

The Cobras have the Swans covered aerially with proven talent Jake Owen, Luke Goetz, newcomer rebound defender Rye Penny (Collingwood VFL listed) and progressive youngsters Joel Freeman (21 goals/8 games last year) and Isaac Nixon.

If the Cobras can kick the ball well, which has been their Achilles heel over recent seasons, and maximise the advantage, the chances of posting a winning score will improve significantly.

Poor field kicking, however, will open the door for Maple's Swans who have the leg speed to expose any side on the spread.

While livewire Swans small forward Andrew Hooper is likely to have a pre-determined match up, expect Armfield and Everitt to back in their group having a genuine crack with a focus moreso on the execution of their own game.

The Cobras defence, led by Penny will need to be on their mettle denying the pacy Swans an opportunity to turn the tables on their last visit.

Looking forward to seeing top end Swans Lachie Dalgliesh (new), Will Liston, Callum Wellings (if available), Hooper and Footscray VFL listed duo Angus Bade and Tristan Maple take it up to the Cobras who look as united as a Bacchus Marsh group seen for some time.


Rye Penny (Bacchus Marsh): Super addition for the Cobras. Expect the rebounding Collingwood VFL listed defender to have immediate impact with his speed and aerial presence.

Lachie Dalgliesh (Ballarat): Former Essendon VFL listed player (30yo, 185cm) expected to play a number of roles for Maple's young Swans. The 30-year old's experience on-field will help extract the most from a group as he eyes a move into coaching sometime in the future.  

Scoop’s tip: Bacchus Marsh

Melton South




Last time they met – Melton South 22 def. by Melton 236 (Melton Recreation Reserve, Round 14 2023)

The Bloods, under new coach Troy Scoble, will start warm favorites making it 11 local derby wins on the trot when they visit the home of cross-town rivals Melton South.

The two sides are at opposite ends of any flag discussions as the Bloods look to restore their reputation as the number one seed following a disappointing straight sets exit from last year’s finals.

Melton South on the other hand just want to be more competitive after a winless 2023.

New coach Travis Hodgson is the man leading the charge, the fightback if you will. It's hard to afford the Panthers a clean slate when assessing their chances despite the Hodgson appointment, a new season dawn and the arrival of bona fide talent.

The club won just one quarter for the 2023 season averaging 29 points per game (187.5 points against).

Unfortunately, the Panthers will be missing up to six players for their season opener, and not expected to resemble their potential best 22 until at least Round 3.

Even then, an injury interrupted pre-season for the returning will surely test conditioning and continuity.

If it's any consolation, the Bloods are tipped to be similarly shy of their best 22, paving an ideal segue for the 'what have's' conversation re-depth in the aftermath.


Ryan Carter (Melton): Has kicked 25 goals in his last four games against the Panthers.

Patrick Veszpremi (Melton South): Former AFL player with the Western Bulldogs. Will aid the Panthers especially on the smaller ground with his penetrating right foot.

Scoop’s tip: Melton





Last time they met - Sunbury 90 def. Redan 63 (Clarke Oval, Round 8 2023)

There's plenty to like about a rejuvenated Sunbury ahead of the 2024 season with a new coach in Matthew White, encouraging acquisitions, Ben Cameron among a few, the return of multiple VFL listed talent and an injury free captain in Tyson Lever.

However, there's no denying the capitulation of the Sunbury Lions last year who post their second season bye, lost their last five games to miss the finals. Saturday will mark 266 days or 38 weeks since their last win for premiership points.

Off-season for BFNL sides who don't make finals leaves a long time for contemplation.

Another opportunity for the proud Sunbury club has finally arrived in the form of a new season opener, albeit on the road against Redan at City Oval.

Solid Pre-season matches against Keilor, Hoppers Crossing and Gisborne should see them cherry ripe to kickstart White's BFNL tenure off on the right foot with no excuses.

Redan hasn't had much luck in the off-season losing Isaac Grant (Hepburn) and more recently star recruit Lachie Bond (leg) who will spend a month on the sidelines.

But luck aside, good or bad won't alter the focus of Redan coach Gary Learmonth who will see the misfortune as an opportunity to blood another exciting youngster into the senior ranks.

Both sides have promising youth, with Sunbury boasting seven players from last year’s BFNL interleague team that defeated the Hampden League.

When you add top end talent (Mitch Lewis, Josh Guthrie for example) to that wealth of youth you make a serious case for an opening round win.

Redan's young guns are a year or two younger than the Sunbury equivalent, call it 25-35 games shy on experience.

But that won't concern Learmonth either, he'll back in his crew getting the job done at home in front of a large contingent of eager eyes and ears.

Call it 'only Round 1' at your peril - these two sides could be fighting for a similar spot come the  business end.

Time to get to work.


Marty Boyer (Redan): Tall, lean, young left footer dangerous around the goal rose to prominence with a five goal haul last year against the Cobras. Look for further improvement.

Jake Sutton (Sunbury): Quality lead up forward with excellent hands formerly Essendon VFL listed. Will play a prominent role in Sunbury's fortunes in the font half this season (37 goals/11 games last year)

Scoop’s tip: Sunbury



Lake Wendouree


Last time they met – Lake Wendouree 56 def. by Sebastopol 102 (CE Brown Reserve, Round 12 2023)

The Burra will look to consolidate its recent dominance over the Lakers when the two sides face off at CE Brown Reserve.

Popular leader Tony Lockyer has taken over the reins at Sebastopol who continue to strive for that elusive premiership, a drought dating back to the mid 1970's.

While there are some external reservations on the Burra’s chances, the same cannot be said for those held inside the four walls. Despite losing key contributors James Keeble, Hugo Papst and big man Arnold Kirby in the off season, Lockyer is confident the next wave of Burra talent can fill the void.

The Burra have the unofficial second easiest draw behind Melton and will have every chance to strategise, manage and 'get up' when the whips are cracking.

If the Burra can stay healthy there's no reason why they can't be in the silverware conversation. The journey begins with a likely win over Lake Wendouree.

Looking forward to Bailey Medwell and Jack Bambury taking their game to a new level and the growth of Cooper Littlehales who looks a ready-made type.

While only a brave few would dare tip the Lakers given their returns over the past few seasons, they're not without upside.

Can't wait to see twin towers Tom Zampatti and Felix Fogarty in action providing an aerial target after a positive pre-season alongside spruik recruit Jayden Wright.

Wishing Lakers coach Rohan Brown all the best in his new role, one of seven new coaches to be appointed by BFNL clubs for the coming season.     


Cooper Littlehales (Sebastopol): big bodied young player on the rise who has shown plenty of upside in the off season. Future 100 game prospect ready to consolidate his place under Lockyer.

Jayden Wright (Lake Wendouree): Highly rated newcomer from Ararat keen to play footy at the higher level. Can play inside mid or key half back. Strong lad, exciting addition 190cm, 87kg.

Scoop’s tip: Sebastopol



East Point


Last time they met - East Point 61 def. by Darley 100 (Eastern Oval, Round 3 2023)

The Devils will unfurl their third flag in seven (completed) seasons when they host East Point in a Round 1 blockbuster.

However, that will be all of the 'looking back' coach Dan Jordan will let infiltrate his group, understanding a new season is upon us, and the looming threat of the Kangas is the here and now.

Both sides are laden primarily with midfield and offensive talent with a number of players more than capable of proving the difference.

Get set for another mouthwatering midfield battle as the Devils’ core led by reigning dual Henderson Medalist Brett Bewley and Luther Baker aim to overcome Matty Johnston and the returning Makitja Rottumah-Onus.

The availability of progressive VFL talent Joel Cadman (Darley/Werribee) and Alex Molan (East Point/Essendon VFL) poses a bittersweet scenario for both camps.

Where star Kangas’ playmaker Jordy Johnston starts, mid or forward is a problem new coach Joe Carmody is lucky to have.

A lingering hamstring complaint for Joe Dodd (doubtful) and potential VFL selection for Molan could make Carmody's decision easier. Jackson Merrett (suspended) will also miss.

The Kangas too will have their own challenges defending Devils trio Billy Myers, Will Johnson and Brady Wright. Myers (50) and Johnson (40) combined for 90 of the Devils 284 goals last season (32%). Wright spent the most part of 2023 recovering from injury, and brings plenty of aerial upside that won't be overlooked in Carmody's plans for containment.


Adam Azzopardi (Darley): Improving young player looking more at home at the level and should thrive with a VFL pre-season under his belt.

Strahan Robinson (East Point): Dangerous aerial presence forward on the Ballarat Rebels list who helped the Kangas charge into a Preliminary Final last year.         

Scoop’s tip: Darley

North Ballarat