Coming off an unforgettable premiership, expectations were high leading into 2019 – and Box Hill’s season was filled with plenty of twists and turns yet again. From enthralling finishes, to clutch performances and touching moments; Box Hill’s year had it all.
Under the guidance of first-year coach Max Bailey and inspirational premiership skipper Andrew Moore, the club opened its season with a bang – emphatically dispatching of Casey in the Grand Final replay, and then Sandringham under the bright lights of Marvel Stadium.
The club took to centre stage for its first match in history on the hallowed MCG against Footscray. The Hawks gained a handy addition in 4x Premiership star Jarryd Roughead, however his five goals proved not enough as the contest ended fittingly in a nail-biting draw.
We witnessed another thrilling chapter of the Hawks and Cats rivalry, with match-winning goals from Nathan Boucher and Jackson Ross stealing victory from the jaws of defeat. While, former-skipper David Mirra became only the sixth Box Hill Hawk to celebrate 150 VFL games – once again producing another inspiring performance as the general in defence.
But despite winning seven out of eight games at Box Hill City Oval this season, the youthful reigning-premiers battled inconsistency in away affairs – constantly leaving them on the fringes of the top eight all season. It left the Hawks the ominous task of needing to win its final two do-or-die matches to keep its finals hopes alive.
On a fortnight Box Hill unveiled its All Stars Team, the club produced a pair of all-star comebacks, overrunning both the Northern Blues and Collingwood to propel themselves into a third-straight finals campaign. Unfortunately, it marked the beginning of the end, with the side proving no match for a red-hot Werribee led by Mark Williams in the Elimination Final.
Experienced recruits Damian Mascitti and Luke Meadows proved instant hits in Box Hill’s leadership group, while the clubs chorus of youngsters including Brayden Kilpatrick, Lachie Walker, Vincent Adduci, Nathan Boucher and Stuart Horner began to take the reins in season 2019.
A plethora of Hawthorn listed players took giant strides. We enjoyed the prolific sharpshooting of Jackson Ross, marvelled at the rise of Mat Walker, while praised the dominance of ruckman Marc Pittonet. And who could forget the priceless leadership of Roughy?
Most significantly it was a year of learning, with new Coach Max Bailey applying his humble, refreshing and even sometimes left-field approach to develop a strong brotherhood between both Box Hill and Hawthorn listed players.
With another season under Bailey and Moore, and a dedicated group of assistant coaches, expect this young group to grow together and surge up the ladder in 2020.
One thing is for certain. The Hawks do not simply rest on their laurels.
Col Austen Trophy Winner – David Mirra
Runner Up – Marc Pittonet
Third Place – Luke Meadows