Aspley players celebrate a Ben Warren goal in round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

ASPLEY will not take part in the 2022 VFL season after withdrawing its licence from the competition this week.

The Hornets, who won the wooden spoon in their first season in the competition with a 1-9 record after suffering a host of injuries to key players and being among several clubs to struggle to deal with the stop-start nature of the season, advised the AFL and AFL Queensland of their intention to renew their focus on the QAFL competition next year.

They will field seniors, reserves and colts teams in that league, alongside their Bond University QAFLW teams and provide a participation pathway from NAB AFL Auskick to the Queensland state league.

The Hornets joined the VFL this season alongside Southport, Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast, Sydney and GWS from the now defunct NEAFL, creating a 22-team competition up the eastern seaboard.

Aspley and Port Melbourne players contest the mark in round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

They announced their arrival with a stunning 10-goal first quarter against Port Melbourne in the opening round, and put in some significant performances despite not managing to win another game, including leading Frankston by 22 points in the second quarter of their only trip to Melbourne at Skybus Stadium in round three and holding healthy leads over Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions before losing by a kick.

Spearhead Matthew Hammelmann booted 42 goals from just 10 matches to win the Frosty Miller Medal after claiming the last two leading goalkicker awards in the NEAFL – the first time in the VFA/VFL’s 154-year history that a player has topped the tally in a wooden spoon team.

William Wolbers and Jono Freeman also played their 100th State league games during the year.

Aspley president Keith Hill said the club’s VFL involvement had given it an assessment on its overall strategy as a football club.

"Playing in the VFL this season has been challenging due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, which gave rise for the board to review what is in the best interests of the club going forward," he said.


"For us to maintain a pathway for our juniors, we have realigned our focus to play the highest level of community football in Queensland.

"As disappointing as it is to withdraw from the VFL competition after only one year, we are now excited to be participating in the highest standard of community football in Queensland – as a club we look forward to playing our role in both the QAFL and QAFLW competitions, both of which are in great shape."

AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the league was supportive of Aspley’s decision.

"The 2021 season has been a challenge to everyone connected to football and the AFL is very proud of how all VFL clubs, players, officials, supporters and corporate partners managed through a difficult year and kept their communities connected," Salter said.

"The renewed focus for Aspley in targeting a strong link between their junior footballers and their talent pathway to senior football makes sense.

"The inclusion of their elite VFL program into their current football program is not sustainable for them in 2022.

"VFL games in Queensland this season have been hugely successful with large crowds in attendance and increasing broadcast numbers, led by the dominance of Southport, who finished the home-and-away season second on the ladder.

Aspley players celebrate a goal in round one, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"We hope stability will return to all football competitions in 2022 and this will enable the VFL to continue to have an expanding presence in Queensland and NSW."

Aspley's withdrawal means the VFL will be a 21-team competition next year, with clubs having a scheduled bye during the season.

The VFL home-and-away season has been deemed completed during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, with a sudden death finals series to take place over three weeks from Saturday, September 4, pending any further interruptions.

Twitter: @BRhodesVFL 

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