ORFFA Finals 2021 - Fixtures, Teams & Banter

Discussion in 'ORFFA' started by Bandit, Aug 2, 2021.

  1. Len

    Len Cockburn Knightrider Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    10,028
    Likes Received:
    5,334
    Great final, love it when it's down to the wire!
    Grats to both finalists and to Dean for a well deserved flag!!

    Sidenote
    Apologies for lack of presence/involvement of late, things are starting to normalise thank fuck
    Resuming normal involvement.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    • Like Like x 3
  3. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    • Like Like x 3
  4. TheTassieHawk

    TheTassieHawk SC fanatic Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    6,775
    Likes Received:
    5,474
    • Like Like x 2
  5. snoz

    snoz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,166
    Likes Received:
    1,415
    Congrats @dmandrews - fantastic season and Grand Final win !!! One of the top 3-4 teams all year and got stronger as the season went on.....well played sir !
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
    • Like Like x 2
  6. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    Thanks for all the congratulations on the Cradle Mountain Devils winning the 2021 ORFFA Premiership, it is much appreciated.

    Before joining the ORFFA I hadn’t participated in a keeper league and the first few years in particular were a bit of a learning experience. The Cradle Mountain Devils involvement in the first 10 years of the ORFFA can be broken down into two distinct five-year periods which I have written about below.

    Part 1 2012 to 2016 - Masters of mediocrity

    Cradle Mountain had the first pick overall at the inaugural ORFFA draft in 2012 and given that midfielder Scott Pendlebury was 24 years old and had led the AFL in 2011 with 129 supercoach points per game it was a straight-forward decision to select Pendles at number 1. With the Devils first dozen picks only two players over 25 years of age were selected, 28 year old duo, - forward Steve Johnson in Round 6 and ruckman Mark Jamar in Round 7. Three experienced players were recruited who would become assistant coaches of the Devils when they retired, being 36 year old defender Dustin Fletcher (defense), 32 year old midfielder Bolton (midfield) and the aforementioned Stevie J (forward). The aim was for the Devils to build steadily in the first couple of seasons and then be able to challenge for an ORFFA premiership from 2014 to 2016.

    Cradle Mountain finished ninth on the ladder in 2012 with nine wins and eight losses. Instead of improving in 2013 CMD dropped down the ladder to record seven wins and 10 losses. Two seasons in and Cradle Mountain had a combined record of 16 wins and 18 losses which made it clear that the club needed to improve significantly to challenge for a premiership.

    In the first couple of seasons Cradle Mountain made several mistakes. Some of these mistakes were lessons that needed to be learnt at some stage and then try to avoid repeating them in the future whilst some other mistakes hurt the club in the short-term, but taking a wrong turn actually benefited the Devils in the long-run in some instances.

    During the first half of 2013 three Devils pure mids averaged more than 90 points per game – Pendles, Redden and Zaharakis, however there was a big drop-off to CMD’s other three pure mids who all averaged in the 60’s. Given this I decided it was time to trade for the first time and bring in an experienced mid to fill CMD’s M4 position.

    Midfielder Shaun Grigg and PSD pick 38 were acquired from the Marble Bar Misfits in exchange for 20 year-old fwd/mid Devon Smith who was not in the Devils best 15 at that early stage of his career. Deciding who to delist in the 2013 pre-season and the first mid-season 2013 delisting was easy. Unsure of who to fill the second delisted spot in the 2013 mid-season I decided on a player the Devils selected with pick 64 at the 2013 PSD who was yet to make his AFL debut and thought maybe I could re-draft this player during the expansion draft if he was still available. The player in question was midfielder Lachie Hunter who was named to make his AFL debut whilst the mid-season draft was on and was swiftly drafted by @chris88 for Darraweit. I quicky realised that rather than delisting a teenager in Hunter who I thought had considerable upside I would have been far better of delisting an experienced player that had an average in the 60’s and little upside – and there were certainly plenty of candidates at the Devils in this category.

    With an expansion draft in mid-2013 increasing the squad size of ORFFA clubs from 26 to 28 players I thought it would be a great opportunity to draft a young ruck who could potentially succeed Mark Jamar and Trent West. With my first pick at the 2013 MSD I wanted to recruit Ruc/Mid Mark Blicavs with pick 9 however Mount Beauty beat me to the punch and selected him with the pick before mine. I didn’t have another stand-out ruck option on my draft board to select but opted to pick project ruck Liam McBean anyway who rival ORFFA coaches were quick to suggest was more of an expansion draft pick than a mid-season draft pick. Selecting a young ruck was a sound strategy, however the execution was less effective as McBean never played a game in the ORFFA and only played five games in the AFL but has starred at state league level in the VFL and SANFL. A ruckman who has gone on to have five seasons averaging 115+ supercoach points per game was available for the entire 2013 mid-season draft, but alas Max Gawn had to wait until pick 3 of the expansion draft to be selected by the Powlett Plains Packers. The level of appreciation ORFFA coaches have for ruckman has increased significantly in the past eight and a half years. The tactic of handcuffing rucks has also become a popular strategy, given that the Devils number 1 ruck was 29 year old Demon Mark Jamar, handcuffing then 21 year-old Gawn to him would have been a great strategy however I didn’t even contemplate it at the time.

    At the end of the 2013 season Jude Bolton retired and became a full-time assistant coach. During the 2014 pre-season I learnt the hard way that it is extremely worthwhile when making mid-season trades to consider what supercoach position changes might be made in the following season, something that I failed to take into account when recruiting Shaun Grigg. After being a def/mid in 2013 Dyson Heppell became a pure mid in 2014. 2013 fwd/mid duo Steve Johnson and Dale Thomas became pure mids in 2014. At mid-season 2013 the Devils only had three pure mids that I wanted in the 15 man team, with a trio of players becoming pure mids, together with the recruitment of Grigg all of a sudden I had seven mids I wanted in the 15 man team for 2014 when the maximum that could fit in a side was six.

    The decision was made to put Dale Thomas up for trade in the 2014 pre-season and attempt to bring in a pure forward which now shaped to be a weak line for Cradle Mountain with the off-season positional changes. I was unable to get a pure forward to my satisfaction and in the end traded Thomas to the Nuffers for PSD pick 23.

    Thoughts of challenging for a premiership from 2014 to 2016 as per the initial plan when entering the ORFFA were aborted during the 2014 pre-season and with six selections in the top 50 at the 2014 PSD the Devils went fully down the youth path, selecting five teenagers and one 21 year old. With the picks involved in the Thomas trade (pick 23) and Grigg trade (pick 38) CMD selected Tasmanian ruckman Toby Nankervis and defender Zak Jones respectively who both went on to develop into long-term best 15 players. At pick 7 Cradle Mountain ideally wanted to select a key forward and had no hesitation in selecting Tom Boyd when he was still available.

    In the first five ORFFA seasons from 2012 to 2016 the Devils only had one top eight finish, sixth place in 2014 with the most unbalanced team to ever finish in the top third of an ORFFA ladder at the end of a home and away season. In a 2014 quarter final against the Foul Bay Chickens the Devils captain Pendlebury got injured in the warm-up and was a late withdrawal which resulted in CMD being a player short and Foul Bay 1,436 defeated Cradle Mountain 1,116.

    CMD had an incredible midfield but weren’t top eight standard on any other line. In 2014 four pure mid Devils averaged 100+ in Pendles (124), Stevie J (107), Heppell (106) and Redden (103) who were well supported by two other pure mids that averaged around 90 in Zaharakis (90) and Shiels (89).

    Excluding pure mids Cradle Mountain only had four players that averaged more than 75 in 2014, mid/forward D Zorko (99), forward Hurley (86), ruck Mark Jamar (83) and defender Dustin Fletcher (81) who had his 39th birthday during the season. Whilst the Devils motto in the midfield was quality not quantity, having six pure mids out of seven on the list average at least 89, it was the reverse in the forward line. Zorko and Hurley did provide some quality in the forward line however it was very thin after that with the F3 and F4 both averaging in the 60’s. Fwd/mid Devon Smith who had been traded to the Misfits during the 2013 mid-season trade period was thriving at his new club, increasing his average from 70 in 2013 to 91 in 2014, developing into exactly the type of player the Devils now needed. Grigg on the other hand had struggled in his first full season at the Devils and averaged just 71 to be CMD’s midfield emergency.

    Of the 26 players selected at the Inaugural ORFFA Draft 14 remained at the Devils at the end of 2014, however there was a distinct pattern on where these 14 players were selected. 13 of the first 14 players selected remained at Cradle Mountain, the exception being Round 2 selection Dale Thomas. The only Devil selected in their last dozen picks from Round 15 to Round 26 that remained at the club after the 2014 mid-season break was Round 19 selection - the Amazing Zorko.

    When the Devils got their first taste of ORFFA finals back in 2014 only six players were over 26 years of age at the start of the season and the club had a quality core but depth and positional balance were lacking. The challenge was to develop some of the youngsters and improve depth and positional balance to emerge as a premiership contender whilst that core was still playing.

    The Devils had mixed results with developing the nine players on their list under 21 years of age at the start of 2014. Four became long-term best 15 players – Toby Nankervis, Nick Vlastuin, Zak Jones and Tim Membrey. The first trio were PSD selections in 2012 or 2013 and have spent their entire career with the Devils. Membrey was delisted mid-season in 2014 and was re-drafted by CMD two years later with pick 6 at the 2016 MSD. In his fourth season 2013 PSD pick 28 forward Ben Kennedy had an extended period in the Devils best 15 in 2016 but faded quickly after that.

    During the 2015 pre-season the Devils acquired 32 year-old Spelunkers forward Drew Petrie after submitting an auction bid of PSD pick 37 and young forward Jamie Cripps. Petrie was recruited as a short-term fix and averaged 84 in 2015 to be CMD’s F2 and of only two Devils forwards to average 70+ along with Dayne Zorko who averaged 100. Grigg rebounded from a down 2014 to average 89 and finish sixth in the Devils 2015 b & f with fellow experienced recruit Petrie finishing fifth. Devils captain Pendlebury won his fourth consecutive b & f ahead of runner-up Zorko, followed by Hurley and Heppell in equal third place. After missing a few games with injury in 2015 midfielder Jack Redden had his lowest finish in a CMD b & f of equal sixth. None of the ruckman on the Devils list were regulars in their AFL side during 2015 with Jamar, West and Nankervis only playing a handful of games each for their respective AFL clubs. In several games CMD played a midfielder as an out of position ruck. Jamar was delisted by the Devils mid-season, having not played at AFL level since Round 5. With pick 8 at the 2015 MSD the Devils drafted defender Jordan Roughead and expected that he would gain ruck eligibility in 2016. Defender Dustin Fletcher retired at the end of 2015 and made the transition to be a full-time coach.

    At the end of 2015 Cradle Mountain were very Richmond-esque having a sizeable gap from their top five players to the supporting cast. The Devils top five was Pendles, Zorko, Hurley, Heppell and Redden whilst the Tigers top five was Rance, Dusty, Deledio, Cotchin and J Riewoldt. Due to the Essendon supplements saga Bombers duo Hurley and Heppell were suspended for the entire 2016 season. In 2015 and 2016 the Devils had back to back seasons where they won eight games and finished 11th. Having gained ruck eligibility Jordan Roughead was CMD’s number 1 ruck in 2016, played every game and averaged 70 which was a significant improvement on fielding an out of position mid in the ruck.

    The Devils had some good fortune during the 2015 and 2016 PSD’s with the several of the club’s draft targets sliding down the order to unexpectedly be available with CMD’s picks. At the 2015 PSD the Devils were able to select forward/midfielder Jack Steele and defender Jake Lever with picks 13 and 19 respectively. Steele was in the top 6 on the Devils draft board and Lever was in the top 8. At the 2016 PSD Cradle Mountain selected midfielders Jacob Hopper and Jade Gresham with picks 8 and 26 respectively. CMD didn’t put the top five players on the draft board in order, expecting none of them to be available with their first pick. Hopper was in the Devils top five and Gresham was ranked seventh.

    In the first five ORFFA home and away seasons from 2012 to 2016 many Cradle Mountain Devils supporters were adamant that the CMD in the club’s name stood for consistently mediocre Devils. These supporters could mount a very strong case as from 2012 to 2016 Cradle Mountain never finished higher than sixth or lower than 12th and were well and truly masters of mediocrity from a win-loss perspective, having a tally of 42 wins and 42 losses over the first five ORFFA home and away seasons.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    Part 2 a 2017 to 2020 - Project Zorklebury

    At the Cradle Mountain 2017 season launch the club announced that the Devil’s best two players Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Zorko had each signed three-year extensions, committing to the club until the end of the 2020 season. The Devils announced on the eve of the 2017 season that they had launched project Zorklebury where the club would trade-in several experienced players from 2017 to 2019 and attempt to win a premiership by 2020.

    The Devils aimed to have a sustained run of top six finishes and get to the point during Project Zorklebury where the team averaged 1,300+ points per game and each player in the best 15 averaged at least 80 points per game.

    The Devils number 1 forward Dayne Zorko averaged 109 points per game in 2016 and was shifted into the midfield in 2017. Drew Petrie who was 33 years old at the start of 2016, declined to average 68 in 2016, lose his place in the Devils best 15 and was delisted before the 2017 PSD. The only Devils forward besides Zorko who averaged 80+ in 2016 - Stevie J (85) was 33 years old at the start of 2017. To strengthen the forward line the Devils traded PSD picks 26 and 44 to the Lefties for 26 year old forward Tom Lynch and PSD pick 62 during the 2017 PSD. Lynch played in the Lefties back to back premierships in 2015 and 2016 and averaged between 85 and 90 points in both seasons.

    If no players in the Devils 28 player squad had dual position eligibility the ideal positional structure for the club would be to have eight defenders, nine midfielders, three rucks and eight forwards. The optimum team structure would have an interchange comprised of one midfielder and one ruck. Usually a handful of players each season have dual position eligibility which provides a bit more flexibility. As the Devils had a strong, experienced midfield line they had only seven pure mids in 2017 and increased the numbers in the ruck in an attempt to gain some stability in that position. The Devils entered the 2017 PSD with four ruck eligible players, ruck/forwards Toby Nankervis and Tom Boyd who were 22 and 21 years old respectively along with pure rucks Jordan Roughead and Billy Longer. Late in 2016 Roughead and Boyd shared ruck duties in the AFL at the Bulldogs. Although Boyd averaged only 53.4 supercoach points in his 11 home and away games he displayed improved form to average 82 in his four games. In his first three seasons at Sydney from 2014 to 2016 Nankervis had played a total of only 12 games, however in the 2016 AFL trade period was traded to Richmond and had the potential to become the Tigers number 1 ruck in his first season with the club. Longer had been acquired with pick 24 at the 2016 MSD and didn’t play a game at senior level in 2016, being hampered by a shoulder injury and concussion. When the 2016 AFL season ended the plan was to use pick 8 at the 2017 PSD on a teenage forward or defender however the standout ruck prospect from the 2016 National Draft was Tim English who had great mobility and skills but would take time to develop at AFL level with the Western Bulldogs who had drafted him with pick 19. With the ability to handcuff English to Bulldogs teammates Roughead and Boyd the Devils changed tack and selected English with pick 8 at the 2017 PSD.

    Cradle Mountain started 2017 brilliantly, winning their first five games of the season to set a new club record for longest winning streak. The Devils lost all four games in 2017 decided by less than 30 points and finished the 2017 home and away season in fifth place with 11 wins and six losses, averaging 1,296 points per game. The Marble Bar Misfits recorded their first ever finals victory, defeating Cradle Mountain 1,398-1,216 in a quarter final. The number of players averaging at least 80 points per game for the Devils increased from five players in 2016 to 13 in 2017, providing Cradle Mountain with far greater depth. After missing 2016 due to suspension Bombers duo Hurley and Heppell both averaged at least 100 in 2017 with Hurley winning the Devils best and fairest and Heppell finishing in the top five. CMD were bearing fruits from recruiting teenagers at pre-season drafts. 2014 PSD duo, ruck/forward Nankervis and defender Jones along with 2015 PSD first round pick forward/midfielder Jack Steele all averaged 80+ in 2017 whilst experienced recruit Tom Lynch averaged 86. Nankervis cemented himself at AFL level as the Tigers number 1 ruck, averaging 89 points per game which finally provided the Devils with a ruck who could have a long-term position in the Devils best 15. Forward Stevie J retired at the end of 2017 and became a full-time assistant coach having finished third in the Devils b & f three times and fourth once.

    With pick 14 at the 2018 PSD the Devils were going to select a forward or defender and were able to draft 18 year-old defender Aaron Naughton. During the 2018 pre-season Cradle Mountain didn’t acquire any players by trade but did recruit experienced defender/midfielder Paul Seedsman with pick 32 at the PSD.

    After having an explosive start in 2017 the Devils stumbled out of the starting blocks in 2018 and at the mid-season break the Devils had a record of five wins and six losses to be 12th on the ladder two games outside the eight and one game behind the 11th placed Misfits. Up until the mid-season break CMD’ highest score of the season was 1,304 points, and they had scored 1,260+ six times.

    Despite making no notable additions during the mid-season break Cradle Mountain lifted significantly to record six consecutive 1,305+ scores to win five of their last six games of the home and away season. One contributing factor to the Devils late-season form surge was a short injury list. Only two games and points for difference separated third and 10th on the ORFFA ladder at the end of the 2018 home and away season. Cradle Mountain were one of five teams from sixth to 10th that all finished with 10 wins and seven losses. Foul Bay (1,285 points per game), Cradle Mountain (1,274) and the Marble Bar Misfits (1,235) finished in sixth to eighth whilst Darraweit Guim (1,225) and the Birdsville Battlers (1,172) just missed out on a place in the finals. The previous time that the eventual 7th placed and 8th placed finishers had been in the eight was after Round 2 for the Devils and after Round 6 for the Misfits.

    In their seventh season in the ORFFA the Devils recorded their first ever finals victory in extremely unlikely circumstances, defeating the Venus Bay Vultures 1,434-1,219 in a 2018 quarter final after the Vultures had won the minor premiership with a perfect 17 win, zero loss home and away season. In a semi final the Devils defeated Iron Knob 1,334-1,219 on the road to advance to the grand final.

    The Marble Bar Misfits progressed to their second consecutive Grand Final, having been runners-up in 2017 to the Cows in a thriller 1,337 to 1,357. All six Devils from the inaugural draft that were still at the club played in the 2018 grand final comprised of Hurley (Round 8 at inaugural draft) in defense, Pendles (Round 1), Zorko (Round 19) and Redden (Round 5) in the midfield, fellow mids Heppell (Round 3) and Zaharakis (Round 4) started on the interchange. The only Devils midfielder in the GF that wasn’t selected at the inaugural draft was Jack Steele. As a result of being the higher ranked team at the end of the home and away season Cradle Mountain hosted the Grand Final, playing a final at home for the first time in the club’s history. The Misfits gained the ascendancy early in the Grand Final and retained it throughout the match to defeat the Devils 1,370 to 1,258. The first player the Devils traded to another club – Devon Smith was the Misfits F1, averaging 98 for the season and scored 93 in the GF, to become a premiership player against his old club. During the 2018 mid-season trade period Shaun Grigg was traded to the Nuffers as his opportunities to play in the Devils midfield were very limited. Having been shifted from defence to the midfield in the 2018 pre-season Zak Jones was the midfield emergency in the GF.

    In the 2018/2019 off-season Cradle Mountain acquired forward Luke Breust from the Codpieces and defender Daniel Rich from the Misfits. Due to these trades CMD didn’t enter the draft until the third round but were able to recruit two mature-age players at the PSD that became part of the Devils best 15 in 2019, forward Rowan Marshall with pick 48 followed by free-agent inaugural Devil Dale Thomas who was now a defender with pick 61. Marshall was a revelation, averaging 110 points per game in 2019 to lead the Devils in this category whilst Rich also far exceeded expectations to average 97 points – ranked fourth for the Devils with veterans Zorko (107) and Pendlebury (104) ranking second and third respectively. After averaging 79 in 2018 midfielder Jacob Hopper averaged 96 in his fourth season to cement a place in the Devils 2019 best 15 along with CMD’s four off-season mature-age recruits.

    Many things went right for the Devils in 2019 however one thing that didn’t was number 1 ruck Toby Nankervis suffering an adductor injury in Round 8 which caused him to miss the rest of the home and away season. Thankfully Tim English in his third ORFFA season was able to fill the void, replacing Nank in the ruck and averaged 83 points per game. Cradle Mountain were extremely consistent to only have one sub 1,275 score in the 2019 home and away season and were on top of the ladder with a record of 14 wins and two losses after Round 16. In Round 17 the Devils scored 1,305 but were no match for the Cows who were on a rampage with 1,493, the loss saw the Devils drop to second, being overtaken by the Foul Bay Chickens who also finished the season with 14 wins and three losses. The Chickens secured the minor premiership due to averaging 1,370 points per game compared to the Devils 1,340.6 points.

    The Devils won their quarter final against Iron Knob 1,339 to 1,239 to record a finals victory at home for the first time and were favourites in their semi final against the Venus Bay Vultures. Disaster struck the Devils before the ball had even been bounced as ruck Tim English was a late withdrawal with illness and with no ruck emergency CMD copped a donut. A 14 player Cradle Mountain outfit delivered their worst performance of the year, scoring 1,149 and the Vultures delivered a masterclass performance, amassing 1,510 points to win by 361 points.

    After the 2019 season Dale Thomas retired and in the 2020 pre-season the Devils delisted Paul Seedsman who after being in the Devils best 15 as a defender in 2018 was a pure midfielder in 2019. Rowan Marshall had a positional change from forward in 2019 to ruck in 2020. At the 2020 pre-season draft Cradle Mountain selected young forward/midfielder Jack Mahony with pick 17 and took a calculated risk by selecting experienced Saints defender Dylan Roberton with pick 35. Roberton had averaged 90+ in 2015 and 2017, however after collapsing against Geelong in Round 4 2018 hadn’t played at AFL level again. Roberton played for the Saints in Round 1, 2020 but was dropped for Round 2 and although fit was unable to force his way back into the Saints side and retired in the 2021 pre-season. Time restrictions due to COVID-19 meant that ORFFA finals weren’t played in 2020 and that Project Zorklebury was extended for one more season until the end of 2021.

    After Round 5, 2020 CMD were languishing in 11th position and also ranked 11th for points scored, having a record of two wins and three losses. The Devils won their next six games with five of the victories being against teams that were between fifth and 10th on the ladder after Round 5 which contributed to the Devils rising to be third on the ladder after Round 11 with a record of eight wins and three losses. In Round 12 the Devils played the Gundagai Grasshoppers who had a record of 11 wins and one loss to be two wins ahead of four teams – the Chickens, Devils, Cockatoos and Vultures. The Grasshoppers defeated the Devils 1,399 to 1,310 in Round 12 which extinguished any hope the Devils had of winning the 2020 premiership. CMD finish 2020 in third position with 13 wins and four losses, two games behind the premiership winning Grasshoppers and one game behind the Chickens. The Devils were also ranked third for points per game with 1,253 points to again be behind the Grasshoppers (1,371) and Chickens (1,287). Each AFL team had a bye during the ORFFA home and away season which diluted the strength of ORFFA teams in several rounds, resulting in lower average points per game for each ORFFA club than in a normal season.

    During 2020 midfielder Jack Steele took his game to another stratosphere, averaging 122 points per game – a 27 point increase on his previous best of 95 in 2019 to win the Devils 2020 best and fairest. Ruck Tim English improved from 83 points per game in 2019 to 103 in 2020. Nine Devils averaged at least 90 points in 2020 with other players in this category being mids Pendles (110), Zorko (98), Z Jones (92) and Hopper (91), defenders Rich (90) and Vlastuin (90) along with ruck Marshall (104).
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    Part 2b 2021 – The encore season of Project Zorklebury

    With no finals being played in 2020 Pendlebury and Zorko each signed one year deals with the Devils for 2021 enabling the club to have an encore season of Project Zorklebury.

    The positional balance of the Devils side improved in 2021 with Zorko becoming a mid/fwd and Marshall becoming a ruc/fwd. Due to a hip infection veteran defender Michael Hurley was unlikely to play in 2021 until late in the season if at all. Hurley had been CMD’s D3 in 2020 with 80 points, just ahead of D4 Jake Lever (78). The Devils defenders from D5 down averaged less than 70 in 2020 so to improve their defense CMD acquired two defenders in 2021 pre-season trades that averaged in the 70's – Harry Cunningham from the Nuffers and Mark O’Connor from the Grasshoppers.

    Up until the 2021 mid-season break Cradle Mountain averaged around 1,300 points per game having scored 1,354 points in Round 1 and then fluctuated several times between being above and below the 1,300 point benchmark. In a round 11 victory the Devils scored 1,453 to rise above the 1,300 mark and remained there for the rest of the season. At the mid-season break the Devils averaged 1,308 points per game and had a record of seven wins and four losses to be sixth on the ladder, two wins behind the fourth placed Vultures.

    Seven of the nine players that averaged at least 90 points per game in 2020 reached this mark again in 2021 with the two exceptions English and Vlastuin getting close to this mark and averaging 85 and 89 points respectively. Another five players averaged at least 90 for CMD in 2021 – midfielder Heppell (99) after playing only three games in 2021 due to foot and ankle injuries, midfielder Redden (91), defender Lever (91), ruck Nankervis (94) and mid-season midfield recruit Chris Mayne (94).

    After the mid-season break Cradle Mountain scored 1,320+ in five of their last six home and away games including a club record 1,561 points in Round 12 to record five wins and one loss during this time. Cradle Mountain finished fourth on the ladder with 12 wins and five losses, averaging 1,340.0 points per game, ranked second behind the Gundagai Grasshoppers (1,346) who finished third on the ladder. Minor premiers – Foul Bay Chickens had a record of 15 wins, two losses and ranked third for points per game with 1,323 followed by fifth placed Marble Bar Misfits (1,295). Venus Bay Vultures finished second with 14 wins and three losses and ranked sixth for points scored with 1,263 points per game, having had a bad run with injury during the home and away season.

    In the first 16 rounds of the 2021 season the Devils scored 1,400+ points three times, they were able to surpass this down the home straight, scoring 1,400 + points in Round 17 and all three finals to defeat Mount Beauty Uglies 1,581 to 1,296 in a quarter final and Gundagai Grasshoppers 1,418 to 1,248 in a semi final to progress to a Grand Final on the road against the Venus Bay Vultures, playing VBV in the third consecutive finals series. Just like with the Devils first GF against the Misfits in 2018, they trailed early, Venus Bay got off to a blistering start and had extended the lead to 140 points by quarter time. Cradle Mountain turned things around early in the second quarter and delivered three consecutive 375+ point quarters (equivalent to 1,500 points for the game) to gradually reduce the margin, hit the lead early in the last quarter and then maintain their momentum to record a 72 point victory, 1,466 to 1,394. It was the first time the Devils played in a final where the margin was under 100 points.

    Only two inaugural Devils – Zorko and Heppell played in the GF victory, another two, Pendles and Redden played the majority of the season but missed the GF with injury whilst Hurley and Zaharakis didn’t play a game in 2021 with the latter being delisted mid-season. It was fitting that the first experienced player recruited by trade after the launch of project Zorkelbury in Tom Lynch was the last player on the field in the 2021 GF, taking the Devils tally above the Vultures. Another player acquired in a trade during Project Zorklebury, defender Daniel Rich from the Misfits has relished his new environment to average at least 90 in all three seasons with the Devils. Zak Jones who the Devils selected with pick 38 in the 2013 PSD that had been acquired in the Grigg trade with the Misfits was a starting midfielder for the Devils in the 2021 GF victory against the Vultures, scoring 112. So with the assets or players involved in the Devils first ever trade both clubs acquired a player that went on to play in a premiership for their club with the Misfits having recruited Devon Smith who was their F1 in the 2018 GF victory against the Devils. Devils M1 and acting captain Jack Steele won the medal for best afield in the 2021 Grand Final with a score of 129, another trio of CMD players scored 110+ in defender Jake Lever (126), ruck/forward Marshall (120) and defender Daniel Rich (119). Steele averaged 126 points in 2021, finished equal second in the Les W Medal and won his second consecutive Devils best and fairest, becoming the second player to win multiple CMD b & f’s, joining Pendlebury.

    Amazingly the only three inaugural Devils that have played their entire career with the Devils and retired at the club were the trio that transitioned to become assistant coaches in Bolton, Fletcher and Stevie J. Of the 14 inaugural Devils that have been delisted 10 were cut by the Devils in the last 1.5 seasons of their AFL career, current delisted free-agent Zaharakis is likely to join this group. The first eight Devils best and fairest awards were won by inaugural Cradle Mountain players that are still at the Devils comprised of six for Pendlebury (2012-2016 and 2018), one for Hurley (2017) and one for Zorko (2019). Redden was runner-up in CMD’s first two b & f’s and Heppell finished in the top five in all five seasons that he played from 2013 to 2018. The plan is for these five remaining inaugural Devils to retire on their terms.

    In stark contrast to Cradle Mountain’s first finals attempt in 2014 the 2021 squad had depth and positional balance. The 2021 squad had 14 players that averaged more than 80 points per game with 12 of these players able to be included in a 15 man team and players that averaged in the 70’s filling the remaining D4, F3 and F4 positions. The 14 Devils players that averaged more than 80 points in 2021 are comprised of four players from the inaugural draft, eight players recruited at a pre-season draft, one player recruited in a trade and one player selected at a mid-season draft.

    During Project Zorklebury from 2017 to 2021 Cradle Mountain had a home and away record of 60 wins and 25 losses and a finals record of six wins and three losses. In two of the five seasons the Devils averaged 1,300+ points per game, the almost identical 1,340.6 points per game in 2019 and 1,340.0 points per game during the 2021 home and away season for very different finals results. In 2019 the Devils registered their worst score of the season in a preliminary final loss to Venus Bay whilst in 2021 the Devils played their best football of the season in the finals to defeat Venus Bay in the Grand Final to achieve the aim of Project Zorklebury and win a premiership during the career of Zorko and Pendlebury. From 2012 to 2021 the bar has been raised to get a top five finish in a best and fairest at the Devils and votes for celebrating the Devils 2021 premiership would also be hotly contested. A couple of former players in current assistant coach Stevie J and Zaharakis along with several current players are featuring prominently in the celebrations however Dayne Zorko who was given the nickname of 'The Bridesmaid' for finishing runner up in the CMD b & f in four consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2017 is living up to his top billing in the Project Zorklebury name and is currently leading the race for best off ground honours.

    Project Zorklebury commenced with Pendles and Zorko signing contract extensions in the 2017 pre-season until the end of 2020, however the aim should have been more specific to have Pendles and Zorko both play in an ORFFA premiership with Cradle Mountain. Whilst Zorko played in CMD’s 2021 premiership Devils captain Pendlebury missed the finals due to a broken leg. Cradle Mountain plan on having a very quiet off-season in terms of player movement and a major item of business is gaining the signature of the currently uncontracted Pendlebury to continue his playing career with the Devils for hopefully two more years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2021
    • Like Like x 2
  9. dmandrews

    dmandrews Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    1,322
    Likes Received:
    1,611
    Thanks @graeme. Yes achieving dominance in the ORFFA will be difficult for a team to achieve and I think a team being a clear standout like @snoz’s Grasshoppers in 2020 will be the exception. Rather than aiming for dominance it is a more a matter of striving to have several top four seasons in a row and generally teams that maintain this high standard will win a premiership at some point but not necessarily in the season that they were considered best placed to win a flag.

    Several clubs haven’t won the ORFFA premiership in their best season from a win/loss and points for perspective but have then remained in premiership contention and won a premiership in the next one to three seasons. On the three occasions that a team lost their first ORFFA Grand Final and were good enough to make it back to another Grand Final in the next three seasons this side won the GF on their second attempt with a 1,360+ score, being the last three Grand Final victors, Misfits, Vultures and Devils. From a win/loss and points scored perspective at least one of the two seasons before their premiership season was superior to the premiership winning season for the Misfits (2017 was better than 2018), Vultures (2017 and 2018 was better than 2019) and Devils (2019 was better than 2021).

    Thanks to @TheTassieHawk for his spreadsheet with the annual ORFFA results summary and club history, I have included several stats from this spreadsheet below.

    Usually several teams at the top of the ORFFA ladder will be fairly evenly matched and it is a matter of performing well enough to get through to the preliminary final in multiple seasons and then having some luck with injuries and form to win the ORFFA Grand Final in one of these seasons. Seven clubs in the first 10 seasons of the ORFFA recorded multiple top four finishes and finished in the top eight at least five times. Each of these teams has won at least one ORFFA premiership, being Foul Bay 8 [top 4] and 10 [top 8] (2012 and 2013 premiers), Venus Bay 4 and 7 (2019), Waikikamoocow 4 and 6 (2017), Iron Knob 5 and 8 (2014), Cradle Mountain 3 and 6 (2021), Gundagai 6 and 6 (2020) and Marble Bar 2 and 5 (2018). The only premiers that don’t fit this profile are Larrikin Lagoon 1 and 2 (2015 and 2016) who have only finished above the bottom four in two seasons but amazingly had phenomenal efficiency to win the premiership in both these seasons.

    Five of the eight teams that have won a Grand Final in the ORFFA’s first decade finished in the top four in their premiership winning season. The three premiers that finished from fifth to eight were either ranked in the top four for scoring in their premiership winning season or had finished in the top four the season before they won the premiership. The Lefties won the 2015 premiership from eighth on the ladder but scored 1,296 points per game to rank fourth in this category during the 2015 h & a season. The Misfits also won the 2018 premiership from eighth but had finished third on the ladder in 2017 when they lost a thrilling Grand Final to the Cows by 20 points. The Vultures finished fifth on the ladder in their premiership winning 2019 season and were also ranked fifth for points scored but had finished top two on the ladder and ranked in the top two for points scored in both 2017 and 2018.

    If the trend of recent runner-ups winning the premiership continues in 2022 there are two candidates – 2019 and 2020 runners-up Foul Bay Chickens or 2021 runners-up Venus Bay Vultures. There is no question that the Foul Bay Chickens have been the stand-out team during the first decade of the ORFFA. It has been a phenomenal effort from @ChiefRussell to have his Chickens to win two premierships, finish in the top eight in all ten seasons, win the minor premiership five times and finish in the top four another three times. CR has said his Chickens are ‘so old’ and has regularly likened his team to the current day Cats, however maybe he can seek inspiration from the 1991 Hawks who after making the finals for nine consecutive seasons from 1982 to 1990 were labelled ‘too old’ and ‘too slow’ during the 1991 season only to prove that their collective experience was valuable with the Hawks also being ‘too good’ as they won an unexpected premiership in 1991.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
    • Like Like x 3
  10. anthak

    anthak Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    9,458
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    Captivating stuff CMD. I didnt expect to read through all these posts but I couldnt stop! Fantastic data and writing, thanks for sharing all of that.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  11. Bandit

    Bandit Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2,415
    100%... almost did the 'too long didn't read' but once I started reading the analysis and thought into the draft strategies etc each season was super interesting.

    Great read Dean!
     
    • Like Like x 3
  12. anthak

    anthak Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2016
    Messages:
    9,458
    Likes Received:
    4,190
    I heard the good news that you’ve been able to convince Pendles to sign on for another two years.
    Look out ORFFA! Operation Zorklebury continues :eek:
     
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page