Callum Brown marks the ball during the VFL semi final between the Box Hill Hawks and Footscray Bulldogs at Box Hill City Oval. Picture: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Box Hill Hawks flew under the radar for most of the Smithy's VFL season but just kept on winning despite other clubs stealing most of the attention.


Position: 3rd (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 15-6 (123.3%)
Players used: 52
Played every match: 2 – Ed Phillips and Callum Porter
AFL players used: 32
Debutants: 16 – Kye Agosta, Josh Bennetts, Lachlan Bryce, Henry Hustwaite, Bailey Macdonald, Cam Mackenzie, Ryan Maric, Lloyd Meek, Darcy Murr, Jack O’Sullivan, Jed Rule, Ethan Stanley, Clay Tucker, Tristan Waack, Josh Weddle and Chad Wingard


Best and Fairest: 1st: Callum Brown, 2nd: Callum Porter, 3rd: Ed Phillips, 4th: Damian Mascitti, 5th: Ned Long
J.J. Liston Trophy votes: Callum Brown (14), Ned Long (9), Cam Mackenzie (8)
Coaches MVP votes: Callum Brown (82), Ned Long (29), Callum Porter (29)
VFL Team of the Year representatives: Callum Brown and Brandon Ryan 
Goalkickers: Jaylon Thorpe (26), Fergus Greene (21), Sam Butler (20)


(Averages – minimum 6 matches)

Disposals: Callum Brown (29.2), Lachlan Bramble (24.5), Cam Mackenzie (24.4)
Kicks: Damian Mascitti (17.8), Callum Brown (15.7), Lachlan Bramble (15.1)
Handballs: Callum Brown (13.6), Finn Maginness (12.3), Lloyd Meek (12.0)
Marks: Harry Morrison (7.8), Emerson Jeka (6.7), Damian Mascitti (6.2)
Tackles: Ned Long (6.0), Cam Mackenzie (5.9), Callum Porter (4.9)
Hitouts: Lloyd Meek (31.3), Max Ramsden (15.9), Clay Tucker (11.0)
Clearances: Callum Porter (4.6), Cooper Stephens (4.3), Ned Long (4.2)
Inside-50s: Cameron Mackenzie (5.1), Callum Porter (4.5), Ned Long (4.1)
Rebound-50s: Damian Mascitti (5.3), Callum Brown (4.2), Lachlan Bramble (3.9)


The ability to get over the line when challenged was an improvement on last year. Amazingly, the Hawks scored just 79 points more in the home and away season than in 2022 and conceded only 53 less – yet won an extra four games to rise from eighth to third. They should be proud of their finals series, where they challenged both eventual grand finalists (Werribee by 20 points and Gold Coast by 15 points) and stunned a Footscray outfit on an 11-match winning streak in the semi final. It had to be a more even performance in attack with last year’s prolific pair of Fergus Greene and Ben Cavarra not able to be relied upon with the former in the AFL team for most of the year and the latter missing the season with a knee injury. The Hawks had great spread with 10 players reaching double-figure goal tallies, led by Jaylon Thorpe’s 26. Then there was Callum Brown, whose recruitment proved a masterstroke as he proved he should still be on an AFL list.


Losing Cavarra, star midfielder James Parsons and key defensive recruit Ben de Bolfo to serious knee injuries before the season started threatened to derail their campaign but there was not much apart from that as they sat in the top four for almost the whole season. The only results they could really be disappointed about were the home losses to Williamstown and the Bulldogs that threatened their double chance, while they were one of many victims of the Suns’ juggernaut in Queensland mid-season.


A terrific effort from the Hawks. They flew under the radar for most of the year, but they were always around the mark and just kept on winning despite other clubs stealing most of the attention. Started underdogs in the semi final despite being the home team and showed once again the value of a double chance and a never-say-die attitude. Callum Brown deserves to be back on an AFL list, they got games into Hawthorn’s talented generation next such as the Macdonalds (Connor and Bailey) and Cam McKenzie, and they honoured modern-day VFL gun Damian Mascitti in the right way as he signed off on his career. And they will get Cavarra, Parsons and de Bolfo back next year.




Brisbane Lions
Footscray Bulldogs
Casey Demons
North Melbourne
GWS Giants
Geelong Cats
Southport Sharks
Port Melbourne
Sydney Swans
Northern Bullants