Clubs to Watch in 2024: Darebin Falcons

IN a new series over the course of January, Rookie Me Central takes a look at some of the clubs across the nation that could be worth watching for a combination of AFL and AFLW Draft prospects, as well as being ultra-competitive or a title contender in their respective competitions.

We start out series off with Darebin Falcons in the VFL Women’s, with the Falcons a powerhouse in the competition prior to the AFL Women’s, and though it has been tougher since re-alignments with AFL Women’s clubs, have been able to target some quality players for the 2024 season.

Darebin finished the season winless from its 14 games, with a percentage of 22.2 per cent. Though that might be cause for concern, the Falcons were able to critically analyse their squad and find some players across the board who add both quality and natural leadership to the list.

In particular, the Falcons picked up a trio of Collingwood players in Magpies skipper Caitlin Bunker, former Western Bulldogs captain Riley Christgoergl and the consistent Monique DeMatteo who made the VFLW Team of the Year squad. That provides the Falcons with three walk-up best 21 starters who will immediately improve the top-end quality of the team.

New coach Lachlan Walker has taken over from the departing Kate Tyndall, and while the Falcons have lost a couple of players to Williamstown, bring in former St Kilda AFLW listed talent Paige Price via Bond University, and small crafty forward Jasmine Farrugia from Port Melbourne.

The rebuild for Darebin through targeting the best possible VFLW players who will not want to be aligned with an AFL Women’s club has been a process over the last few seasons. Able to re-sign a host of players headlined by Simone Ruedin and Alyssa Mifsud, the Falcons are building quality around the youth that is coming into the program.

The full list is far from confirmed with those who missed out on AFL Women’s spots through the AFLW Draft still deciding on their movements for 2024. Though 2023 was a disappointing year on the scoreboard, expect the Falcons to improve on that in 2024. Finals might be a touch out of reach, but it would not be surprising to see Darebin be far more competitive and shape the top six with some upsets if teams are no wary of the Falcons.

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