BY JUSTIN NELSON
And here we are again, ready to do it all once more. Seems like only yesterday I was marvelling at Ringwood scoring two wins on the road down at Corio Bay to claim the SCM title in dramatic fashion. It sure was a fitting finale to an amazing season across the entire Big V.
Six months on and for every team the slate is clean as we start again. There wouldn't be a club right now without lofty expectations and high hopes for their senior and youth programs. It really is an exciting time of the year out in club land as we all talk up our chances to find some success, and maybe even win a title.
A big welcome to those joining the league for the first time - some new clubs and teams, certainly some new players and imports, and no doubt a sprinkling of new coaches, referees and volunteers. Enjoy the ride.
In the coming weeks we'll also bid farewell to one of the family as Cal Chambers moves on in his professional life, off to take on some fresh challenges. Good luck mate, Big V TV will continue, but my new sidekick will have some big shoes to fill. Hard to believe we've worked alongside each other for five years.
Around the traps there is a heap of practice matches taking place each week and while it's easy to get carried away with results and boast future success, just remember that a win during the pre-season doesn't show up in any column on the ladder during the regular season.
Still, the month leading into the season proper is an interesting time. Some players have found a new home, a fresh batch of imports have started to touchdown and 'recruit' continues to be the buzz word. Every club is 'up and about' with nothing but positives. It's the only time of the year where absolutely nothing separates us all - we're all starting in the same position on the ladder, zero and zero!
Though we are a long way from August, I can't help but feel both Ringwood and Corio Bay will once again be a big part of the conversation in SCM, while some very good recruiting out at Waverley will surely see the Falcons pushing all the way. I've also heard the Cougars out at McKinnon will have two imports this year, so keep them well within view.
One team to keep an eye on in SCW will be Waverley, who like their men's team have been busy assembling a very talented outfit. A lack of height might no longer be a thorn out at the Falcons' nest and they will very much be in title contention, along with Ringwood and Hume City no doubt.
Other teams around the league worth keeping an eye on will be Casey in D1M who have recruited strongly, pardon the pun, but whether or not it will be enough to contend with a big step up remains to be seen. I also like what I'm hearing out of Blackburn (D2W) and hopefully we'll finally see the Vikings delivering the goods after a woeful 2014 season.
Geelong has been busy recruiting in D1W as they aim for back-to-back titles, Mildura (D1M) has confirmed star Calvin Henry is back, while Whittlesea has announced they will have their first ever female import on court as they go all out to win a senior women's title in Div 1.
Some teams I never write off include Warrnambool (D1M) and Latrobe City (D1W), both have been reasonably quiet during the summer months, but don't discount them.
I also like what I'm hearing coming out of Sunbury (D1M), perhaps 2015 will be the year of the Jets. In SCM I'm really looking forward to watching Marcus Timmons (Hawthorn) and Al McAughtry (Diamond Valley) step into new coaching gigs, while the self-imposed jump up into SCW by Southern Peninsula will also make for interesting viewing.
One of the best things we see each year is the continued emergence of young stars across the youth divisions and 2015 will be no different. Great to see round one of VYC a big part of the pre-season tournament again. It's been a huge winner the last two years and has proven to be a cracking way to start the new season.
So with that, I wish everyone well. Good luck, keep updating me with any news out at your club and I'll always do my best to give you a plug, including your sponsors of course! The Big V will release the official 2015 previews for all divisions shortly and they always makes for some interesting reading.
Not long now until we're finally underway. Are you ready?
The Final Whistle has blown!