THE Box Hill Hawks are back in the rebel VFLW competition after the licence was officially returned to the alignment club by Hawthorn this week.
The Hawks, who finished second on the ladder this season with a 12-1-1 record before bowing out of the finals in straight sets, has played under the Hawthorn name since 2018, when they defeated Geelong by 12 points at the then Etihad Stadium to win their first and presently only VFLW premiership.
The four seasons yielded an impressive 38-20-2 record from 60 matches, with finishes of first, seventh, ninth and fourth.
Coming on the back of Hawthorn’s elevation into the AFLW, the decision marks a return to the VFLW for the Box Hill name after the club took over the licence of Knox after the Falcons finished 1-17 with the competition’s inaugural wooden spoon in 2016, improving that record to 3-11 in 2018 with two wins over Seaford and one over Cranbourne.
Cherie O’Neill, who led the Hawks so successfully this year, will remain at the helm of the rebadged team.
Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves said the return of the VFLW licence to Box Hill represented a further boost to the powerful two decades-long relationship between the two clubs.
“The partnership between Hawthorn and Box Hill is one that continues to grow,” he told hawthornfc.com.au.
“We’re so excited to see what the Hawks can do under the leadership of head coaches Zane Littlejohn and Cherie O’Neill as well as president Ed Sill.
“This transition further strengthens the alignment between Hawthorn and Box Hill and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
Sill was also delighted with the announcement, which had been flagged late in the rebel VFLW season before being made official this week.
“We’re delighted to field a VFLW team under the Box Hill banner in 2023,” he said.
“Hawthorn has done a tremendous job in establishing this successful team in recent years and we hope to continue that trend under the fantastic leadership of Cherie O’Neill this season and beyond.”
Box Hill’s VFL team returned to the track on Tuesday, with the VFLW team scheduled to return next Wednesday.