FORMER Greenvale junior Dion Prestia could become a three-time premiership player for Richmond come Saturday night.
Prestia is one of three former EDFL juniors who will play in the AFL grand final between Richmond and Geelong, with Noah Balta (Essendon Doutta Stars/Richmond) and Mark Blicavs (Taylors Lakes/Geelong) both set to play in their first grand final tomorrow night.
Additionally, former EDFL umpires Michael Marantelli and Matthew Tomkins will be running the boundary line at the historic Gabba decider.
Regardless of who wins tomorrow’s grand final, the EDFL is set to continue its streak of having at least one former junior win an AFL premiership medal over five consecutive seasons, dating back to Essendon Doutta Stars product Dale Morris’ triumph with the Western Bulldogs in 2016.
In 2017 and 2019, Prestia and West Coburg junior Brandon Ellis both played in Richmond’s grand final wins, while Keilor’s Daniel Venables was part of West Coast’s premiership team in 2018.
See below for more on each player and umpire participating in the 2020 AFL Grand Final.
Dion Prestia is Richmond’s reigning best-and-fairest winner and plays a vital role for the Tigers as a tough, big-bodied midfielder.
His presence in the middle could again be crucial, especially if the forecast for rain comes to fruition.
Noah Balta, who turned 21 today, may well have one of the biggest jobs in tomorrow’s game – minding Coleman Medallist, Tom Hawkins.
Balta kept Hawkins to just one goal in Round 17 and has been a mainstay in Richmond’s back six throughout the back half of the season.
For Geelong, Mark Blicavs can play a variety of roles but will primarily feature down back and support Rhys Stanley in the ruck.
The two-time Cats best-and-fairest winner will be hard to miss, especially if he can stamp his authority on the game with his defensive pressure and marking ability in the back half.
Boundary umpires Michael Marantelli and Matthew Tomkins are both officiating in their fourth grand final on Saturday.
Marantelli has been an AFL boundary umpire since 2011 and officiated in previous grand finals in 2013, 2016 and 2018.
Tompkins has been in the system since 2012 and ran the boundary in the grand finals of 2014, 2015 and 2019.
He was also an emergency for the 2013 decider.
Both have officiated in more than 200 games of AFL football.