By Daniel Kelly
Photo: Adam King
The Northern Bullants and Frankston Dolphins fought out an evenly matched encounter at Genis Steel Oval but the Dolphins prevailed 10.11 (71) to 8.6 (54) during Round 9 of the 2023 VFL Premiership Season.
On the same day, the Ants remembered one of the greatest sides.
Two late goals in the first quarter, 90 seconds apart, for the Dolphins through Matt Johnson and Will Fordham created a nine-point gap at the first break.
Whilst both sides traded goals for the remainder of the match, the Ants couldn’t bring the margin within 10 points.
Alongside key target man Brandon Ryan, who was serving the first of a three match suspension, the Ants also did not select Ben Ham and Sam Hayes.
Returning to the side was Liam Kolar, Zach Morris. Max Tessari, a talent that coach Brodie Holland knows well from Caroline Springs, made his debut (and performed solidly with 15 disposals) after being added to the Ants list in recent weeks.
Tyson Young, John Roumeliotis and Saad El-Hawli kicked two goals each for the Ants. Cam Wild and Nathan Honey added one each.
Spencer Johnson topped the disposals total with 28 (and eight marks), Jean-Luc Velissaris was not far behind with 27, and Wild showed his consistency with 26 disposals, nine marks and a team high five clearances.
Patrick Fairlie (22 disposals) and Young (19) were the other major ball winners.
Frankston dominated the clearances (+18) with the Ants well below their 2023 average of 35 with 20 against the Dolphins. Frankston’s Kai Owens accounted for 12 clearances himself – more than twice as many as anyone else on the ground (Wild was the next highest with 5).
Owens collected 31 disposals and Jackson Voss 30 for the Dolphins. Matt Johnson kicked four goals as the difference maker.
Celebrating the 1983 record breakers
Off the field, the Ants remembered the halcyon days of the club with countless ex players, staff, volunteers and fans reuniting to celebrate the 1983 premiers.
On September 18, 1983, Ray Shaw led the Bullants to a seven-point win over Geelong West in the VFA Grand Final.
The win by the senior side followed a flag by the under-19s on the same day, and the reserves drew with Frankston as well. The reserves finished the job the week later meaning that the Bullants were first premiers across all three divisions since that structure was introduce in 1952.
Speeches were made, friendships rekindled, tall stories became even taller and, of course, the Bullants song was sung loud and proud, celebrating one of the proudest chapters of this 141-year-old club.
The Bullants have the bye in Round 10 but return home on Sunday 4 June for a special day supporting the Good Friday Appeal.
Stay tuned to the Bullants website and socials for more information on a day which will feature a VLFW match between Darebin and Collingwood, lunch with guest speakers, raffles, face painting, and the VFL matchup against Collingwood (2.05pm start).
Bullants: Young 2, Roumeliotis 2, El-Hawli 2, Wild, Honey
Frankston: Johnson 4, Marotta 2, Lambert 2, Fordham 2
Bullants: Velissaris, Wild, Fairlie, Johnson, El-Hawli
Frankston: Owens, Voss, Johnson, Stoddart, Gilbert