The Eastern Football League held its 2017 Annual General Meeting on Thursday night at Ringwood’s Karralyka Centre.
The evening saw five 300-game life members inducted, including Brad Neil, Greg Jarvis, Marc Williams, Matt Lawson and Matt Whitty.
Chairman Graham Halbish opened the evening with a review of season 2017, while Chief Executive Officer Phil Murton addressed the attendees on the EFL’s 2018 plans and objectives.
General Manager of Football & Game Development Troy Swainston addressed the Player Points System and salary cap for 2017, followed by Commercial Manager Mark Freeman, who welcomed the EFL’s official suppliers – TLA Clubhouse, Sherwood, OnTrack, and Australian Sportlines.
The 2017 EFL Annual Report was also presented.
PICTURE: Greg Jarvis, Brad Neil and Marc Williams were among the inductees.
PICTURE: East Ringwood stalwart Matt Whitty and family.
2017 300-Game Life Member Profiles
Matt Lawson (Upper Ferntree Gully)
Debuting in Round 17, 1999, Matt Lawson reached the 300-game milestone in August this season, becoming just the fourth player in Upper Ferntree Gully’s 70-year history to achieve the feat behind Don Barton (1956-1974), Craig Marson (1964-1987) and Andy Lee (1993-2017).
Lawson is a member of the Kings’ 2002 reserves premiership side, as well as the club’s 2010 senior premiership. Other grand finals include the 2006 and 2009 senior deciders, along with the 2016 reserves grand final.
Individual honours include being named senior vice-captain, winning the Dennis Callahan Best Under-21 Player in 2003, the Dave Baker Most Courageous Award in 2012, the Best Playing Clubman Award in 2013 along with life membership of the club in 2010.
Lawson ventured into the coaches’ box in 2012 where he took on the role of under-17s coach for five years. Leading the club to the under-17s flag in 2014 saw Lawson being recognised as a nominee for Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015, also receiving the Junior Club Outstanding Services Award in 2016.
The dedicated Lawson family has ridden every high and low that comes with the game, with brother Jarrad playing 108 games with the club, including sharing in the 2002 reserves flag, brother Leigh (215 games) and parents Robyn and Wayne both heavily involved at the Kings.
Greg Jarvis (Doncaster)
Playing five senior matches in his debut year in 2000, Jarvis would go on to forge one of the Sharks’ finest careers, reaching the 300-game milestone in June this year.
Slotting in seamlessly into the Doncaster line-up, Jarvis proceeded to win his first of five club best and fairest awards in just his second year of senior footy in 2001, followed by subsequent best and fairests in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Jarvis is a member of Doncaster’s 2011, 2013 and 2015 senior premiership sides, playing alongside names such as Nathan Thompson, Matt Schimmelbusch, Heath Scotland and Chris Annakis who all revere the 300-gamer.
The trio of premiership victories saw the club climb its way up from Division 3 to Division 1 under the tutelage of senior coach Andrew Tranquilli, where Jarvis continues to impose himself as a premier big-man of the competition.
Matt Whitty (Mitcham/East Ringwood/Nunawading/Forest Hill)
Matt Whitty’s senior career began with Mitcham in 1995, playing 16 games with the club after a short stint with Box Hill.
It was however in 1996 that Whitty began his long association with East Ringwood, in a career which has seen two reserves flags with the Roos in 1999 and 2002, having also played in the club’s 2001 senior grand final against Vermont.
Whitty has also represented the Nunawading and Forest Hill football clubs respectfully, playing in the Zebras’ 2016 senior grand final side.
Coaching has formed a major part of Whitty’s involvement in recent years, serving as the Roos’ assistant reserves coach in 2013 and reserves coach in 2014 and 2017, as well as coaching in the junior ranks.
Whitty played his 300th game in May this year, against Norwood.
Marc Williams (Scoresby/Boronia)
Marc Williams began his senior career in 2000, running out for his 300th game in the Division 3 finals series this year.
Williams formed part of Scoresby’s drought-breaking Division 2 senior premiership side in 2006, which delivered the club its first senior flag in almost three decades.
Williams celebrates a goal in the 2006 Division 2 grand final. PICTURE: Steve Tanner
Leading the charge in the 19-point grand final win over Norwood was Williams, named best on ground – followed by a runner-up finish in that season’s Division 2 best and fairest.
Williams handled the club’s rise to Division 1 with aplomb, being named in the SEN Team of the Year on three occasions from 2008 to 2010, also running second in the comp goal-kicking three times.
Having played in an era which included star names such as Matt Greig, Kris Barlow and Dan Donati, Williams played on some of the League’s toughest opponents in the early stages of his career.
As a former Scoresby junior at Knoxfield/Scoresby Junior Football Club, Williams’ association with the Magpies extends over 30 years, with his senior career totalling 267 games with Scoresby and 33 with Boronia respectfully.
Brad Neil (Vermont/Doncaster/South Croydon)
Brad Neil served the Vermont Football Club with distinction as the ruckman throughout the 1990s and early 2000s where he was a part of five senior premiership sides, in one of the most successful eras the competition has ever seen.
In 2003, Neil transferred to Doncaster where he played over 100 games for the Sharks, winning a club best and fairest.
Having also played his junior football with the Eagles, Neil has played in over 20 Division 1 senior EFL finals, is a two-time EFL representative, a life member of the Vermont Football Club and a best and fairest winner across two clubs.
After retiring from football in 2009, Neil joined the South Croydon Football Club in 2013 as senior assistant coach, followed by taking on the reserves coaching role which saw him come out of retirement to play his 300th game against North Ringwood in May this year.