Team Previews – Victorian Honeyeaters

Team Background: 

The Victorian Honeyeaters enter State Shield this year as a brand new team! Founded as a B Team for Victoria, matching the Bluebottles for NSW, this will be their first foray onto the state field, and they are the second home team in this year’s tournament. 

Roster and Reserve for the Victorian Honeyeaters, with logo designed by Todd Fox

Interview with Team Leadership 

We first spoke to Captain Mark Kelly, who had this to say about the team: 

We’re incredibly excited to be bringing a second Victorian team to State Shield, we’ve all worked hard and we’re raring to show Australia what we can do! 

We take a lot of pride in how far we push the Leadbeaters, and we’ve built up a culture of excitement, encouragement, and inclusiveness that celebrates effort above all. I definitely think our greatest strength is how tight knit, supporting, and trusting we’ve become.

The Honeyeaters have players from every single Victorian team, and we’ve drawn heavily from our second division, assembling a team of people with specific skill sets and a fantastic work ethic.

In terms of the tournament we’re especially looking forward to facing off against the NSW Blue Bottles, who are something of a natural rival for us. We’re also keen to see what Queensland bring to the table. They’re always a bit of a dark horse for us Victorians. I assume they’ll be expecting to find a comfortable seat in 3rd while they look up the table for opportunities, but it’s not the Blue Tongues or the Leadbeaters they should be worried about!

We also asked our standard questions of Vice Captain Jack Emerton: 

1. What are your goals for the tournament? 

The Honeyeaters aim to put on a good showcase of our own brand of quidditch, our expectations may not be as high as some of the other teams but we’re here to play and have fun

2. How have you prepared for State Shield? 

We don’t know exactly what to expect against the opposition but we’ve come together very well as a team, there’s a lot of great personalities. We’re certainly approaching State Shield with a lot of enthusiasm. We feel quite confident that we’re good enough to play at state level

3. Where are most of your players from? Anyone we should be watching out for? 

Our team is what most would call a mixed bunch; we have players who’ve played state before, players with a great deal of quidditch experience, and we have some up and coming new players who show a lot of potential. Clubs wise we all come from different teams, we have multiple representatives from the Monash Mudbloods, the Centaurs, Manticores, and Ravens and players from other teams. The Honeyeaters showcases a good representation of Victorian quidditch teams. 

4. Why should people be excited to see your team playing at State Shield? 

On paper we may not be as good compared to the other teams but this team has a lot of future potential. As stated before, a lot of players on this team are new to quidditch and state and show a lot of potential, this could be an opportunity to glimpse future stars of Australian quidditch. We won’t fly under the radar at State Shield!

The Honeyeaters’ jersey for 2019

Analysis & Commentary: 

With no team history to go off, the slate is blank for the Honeyeaters to make a big impression on the state scene. The team is certainly filled with many talented players who have graced the state scene and top level quidditch in Australia in the past, and are fortunate to have excellent leadership in Captain Mark Kelly and Vice Captain Jack Emerton. Emerton, of the three-time-national-championship-winning Melbourne Manticores, brings much strength and composure to the quaffle game, while the South Melbourne Centaur’s Kelly is sure to make his mark as one of Victoria’s most experienced beaters. Both veterans of the game and with many interstate tournaments under their belt, they will be more familiar than most with the competition they’re up against and know how to organise a team best to combat it. 

Jack Emerton keeping for Melbourne Manticores | Photo: Courtney Buckley Photography

The biggest challenge for the Honeyeaters will surely be whether they can find their cohesion fast enough to match the more experienced and historied Queenslanders and New South Welshpeople. Fortunately for the side however, the Monash mega-club strikes again with a surplus of Monash Mudbloods making up the team, lending some of their synergy and skill to the side. While the Monash Muggles were crowned Division 1 champions in the Vic Cup, the second Monash team, Mudbloods, made an impressive leap from tenth in 2018 to Division 2 champions this year, effectively placing them fifth in the state. Keeper Joshua Nibbs, chasers Aaron Sibel and Amie Inmon, and beaters Juliette Smith and Connor Mai were all major parts of the Mudblood’s success and will certainly be players to look out for on the Honeyeaters squad. 

Players like chasers Max Pockley and Jess Cooper, as well as beater Hannah Jackson, of the Monash Muggles squad, will also likely supply a level of experience and control over the game essential for the newer team. Pockley, now of the Melbourne Ravens, played for the Leadbeaters in 2018 and represents an experienced driving threat. Jackson is also particularly notable as a beater originally for ANU, who played on the inaugural NSW B side in 2016. Their experience in State level quidditch will be incredibly valuable to the team. Also with extensive out-of-state experience is Fred Perera, who originally played for the Queensland University of Technology Lycans from 2015, UNSW in 2017, and now plays for the Melbourne Manticores, though also mercing for Valkyries Quidditch Club at Midwinter Cup this year.

Staying on the inter-state train, making a return to quidditch is veteran chaser Michelle Mannering, who hails from as far back as as 2014, playing for the Melbourne University Unicorns and Blackburn Basilisks then for UNSW in 2015-2016. Her years on UNSW would have placed her alongside many of the players now featuring on the NSW Blue Tongues and Bluebottles sides who came from that old powerhouse team, not to mention her teammates on the original Basilisks. Though she has spent some time out of the quidditch scene, with her extensive background in both AFL and quidditch, and her memorable physicality and tenacity in all aspects of the game, she is sure to make an impact for the Honeyeaters. It’s great to see her back in the game.

Michelle Mannering chasing for UNSW at QUAFL 2015 alongside 2019 Bluebottle chaser Phil Van Kerk Oerle and Coach Sukrut Mysore | Photo: SLDixon Photography

Also originating from the Unicorns but now playing for the Melbourne Ravens are Kye-lee Cheong and Sherry Du, both with much experience at interstate quidditch who have the potential to bring their incredible pace and strong tactical decision making respectively to the Honeyeaters game. Ben Watson is also a standout name in the team, playing for the Willows Quidditch Club, who last year was instrumental as a beater in the team’s run all the way to the third place play-off at Nationals. Watson’s excellent defensive beating caused major strife for the University of Sydney Unspeakables beaters in the semi-finals at QUAFL 2018, most of whom find themselves on the NSW state teams this year, so it will be interesting to see these match-ups again. 

Overall, there is certainly enough individual talent and experience on the Honeyeaters to give teams cause for consideration. While it is unlikely that this fledgling team will be able to pose a significant threat to the long established programs of the Blue Tongues and Leadbeaters, Queensland and the NSW Bluebottles will do well to not underestimate them. It is certainly exciting to finally see the emergence of a second Victorian team after three years of state level competition. The Blue Tongues and NSW quidditch more broadly have both certainly benefited tremendously from the establishment of the Bluebottles, and the Honeyeaters debut can only bode good things for the future of Victorian quidditch. 

The decisive factor for this group of excellent but disparate individuals of a wide variety of teams and experience levels, is how well they can come together as a unified team and how well they can adapt their playing over the course of the weekend. If they have been training alongside the Leadbeaters and as regularly, we can certainly expect great things from them. 

Emerton, the team’s Vice Captain, also reported that “there’s a very strong bond and sense of friendship within the Honeyeaters, we’ve really come together as a team and will always stick together no matter what.” If this camaraderie can translate into on-pitch playing, they will be a force to be reckoned with, and SWIM games are not remotely out of the question, especially against the Bluebottles where the NSW team’s speed and dynamism will be the greatest challenge for the Honeyeaters to try and check. Holding ground and controlling the pace of the game with smart and steady playing, lead by the more experienced members of the team, will be imperative for the Honeyeaters to keep things in range. Then, with a smart, tactical seeker such as Justine Herring, who jointly won Best Seeker in Victoria for the 2018 Vic Cup, and the support of a home crowd to pull the team over the line, anything is possible. 

Will you be a part of that crowd? Join us in the stands this weekend at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval or online via our livestream of the whole weekend to support the second home team at this State Shield!