Shaun Mannagh celebrates one of his six goals for Werribee against Gold Coast in 2023 VFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Club-record 17-game winning streak. Tick.

First grand final appearance since 2005. Tick.

Two players drafted to AFL clubs. Tick.

2023 was a raging success for Werribee despite falling short of premiership success.


Position: 2nd (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 18-3 (149.4%)
Players used: 36
Played every match: 7 – Dom Brew, Sam Clohesy, Nathan Cooper, Kye Declase, Nick Hayes, Shaun Mannagh and Louis Pinnuck
Ex-AFL players: 3 (60 matches)
Debutants: 4 – Kobe Annand, Sam Azzi, Logan Morris and Jack Riding


Best and Fairest: 1st: Dom Brew, 2nd: Shaun Mannagh, 3rd: Tom Gribble, 4th: Kye Declase, 5th: Nathan Cooper
J.J. Liston Trophy votes: Tom Gribble (21), Shaun Mannagh (19), Dom Brew (13)
Coaches MVP votes: Shaun Mannagh (76), Tom Gribble (69), Dom Brew (62)
VFL Team of the Year representatives: Dom Brew, Nick Coughlan, Tom Gribble, Shaun Mannagh, Michael Barlow (coach)
Goalkickers: Hudson Garoni (45), Shaun Mannagh (40), Sam Paea (28)


(Averages – minimum 6 matches)

Disposals: Tom Gribble (30.9), Matt Hanson (25.8), Dom Brew (25.0), Shaun Mannagh (25.0)
Kicks: Shaun Mannagh (16.6), Matt Hanson (16.2), Dom Brew (15.7), Nick Coughlan (15.7) 
Handballs: Tom Gribble (16.1), Jack Henderson (12.2), Kye Declase (9.7)
Marks: Louis Pinnuck (7.7), Kye Declase (6.8), Bior Malual (5.9)
Tackles: Dom Brew (9.9), Jack Henderson (6.2), Shaun Mannagh (5.6)
Hitouts: Kobe Annand (22.2), Jack Boyd (8.8), Josh Porter (8.3)
Clearances: Dom Brew (7.6), Tom Gribble (6.4), Matt Hanson (6.0)
Inside-50s: Shaun Mannagh (6.7), Tom Gribble (5.2), Kye Declase (5.1)
Rebound-50s: Nick Coughlan (8.1), Louis Pinnuck (4.2), Sam Clohesy (2.8)


Almost everything. A sensational year from the Tigers as they realised their potential after a couple of years of underachievement in 2021 and 2022. Experience and teamwork paid off, with dual Liston medallist Tom Gribble once again dominating in the midfield alongside Dom Brew, Shaun Mannagh, Kye Declase, Jack Henderson and Matt Hanson. Hudson Garoni came third in the Frosty Miller Medal with support from Sam Paea, while Nick Hayes, Nick Coughlan, Nathan Cooper and Louis Pinnuck were almost impassable in defence. Mannagh’s brilliant six-goal and 27-disposal performance in the Grand Final gave him a 40-goal season and saw him finally realise his AFL dream after being selected by Geelong with pick 36 in the National Draft, while Sam Clohesy got his AFL chance via the Gold Coast Suns in the Rookie Draft after an outstanding season that saw him claim the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal. Michael Barlow was the VFL Coach of the Year and earned himself an AFL promotion at North Melbourne.


After winning 17 games in a row, the Grand Final result will long burn in the guts of all at Werribee as they fell three goals short of beating what has been described as one of the greatest VFL teams of the modern era in the Suns. Hanson’s injury issues were another downer as he missed half of what became his final season at State league level. Apart from that, it has been the retirements of those greats such as Gribble, Hanson and Sodomaco, who will be sadly missed both by the Werribee faithful and the wider VFL community.


This is what we all knew Werribee was capable of since Covid destroyed the 2020 season. They looked to have assembled a list primed to have a crack at the flag that year before the season was cancelled and it took them two years to get over it and launch a genuine crack at what would have been only their second premiership on the 30th anniversary of their first. 17 consecutive wins, including being one of just two teams to beat the Suns (after trailing by seven goals) made the Tigers arguably the story of the season, and they gave it absolutely everything they had. Mannagh’s performance to win the Norm Goss Medal in the Grand Final will go down in VFL folklore, even though his team didn’t quite make it to the finish line first. Let’s hope they can reload quickly under new mentor Jimmy Allen.




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