Aaron Fenton 100 Games A True Saint

Sometimes in life you just need good luck or a sliding door moment to land a player at your club who turns out to be a dead set champion. For our club, this happened in 2006, when 8 year old Aaron Fenton walked into our Junior Club to play U9’s along with Parents Mark & Sally and siblings Callum & Jessica.

This Saturday when our Senior boys take to the field against Bayswater, our Captain will lead his troops into battle for his 100th Senior Game in the mighty Saints Jumper.

Our club’s good luck & sliding door moment was Aaron’s older brother Callum who was 11 at the time, decided he wanted to play club footy and with Azz currently kicking the dew off the Grass at the AusKick Clinic behind McAdam Square in Croydon Hills, it was only natural for young Azz to follow his big bro. At the time this Clinic was independent but still had ties as a feeder to another club, despite the efforts of our Junior President at the time (me) and the committee to walk in offering the world to fully take over under the NRJFC umbrella.

Luckily for us, Aaron’s Dad (Mark) hailed from the other side of the Victorian border where they throw the ball backwards to score, so he had no idea of footy teams in the area. Instead of taking his boys to the Junior feeder club from the clinic, he did what any good punter does during the Spring Carnival & chose a club based on jumper colours. With the family all barracking for St.Kilda, North Ringwood was the perfect choice for the Fenton’s to all mosey on down to and as they say, “the rest is history”!

From the very start, it was evident we had landed a great family. Both boys were very talented & from day one both Mark & Sally stuck their hands up to ask, “What can we do to help out” and they were rewarded with much enthusiasm, as only they should be. Mark was announced as Coach for one of our two U9 teams & Sally was Team Manager. That’s what happens when you stick your hand up to volunteer
Aaron finally finished at the Junior Club in 2014 playing U17’s until halfway through the season but we will get to that soon, but boy did he finish with an impressive resume to his name.

Aarons Junior Achievements
115 games & 33 goals
2006 – U9 Blacks
2007 – U10’s EFL Lightning Premiers
2008 – U11
2009 – U12 Blacks Co-captain
2009 – EFL U12 Grand Finalist (Runners Up)
2009 – NRJFC U12 B&F
2009 – NRJFC Club Award – Best Finals Player
2009 – 4th Place U12’s EFL B&F
2010 – U13 Reds Vice-Captain
2010 – EFL U13 Premiers
2010 – NRJFC Club Award – Most Consistent
2011 – U14 Reds Captain
2011 – NRJFC U14 B&F
2011 – 3rd Place U14 EFL B&F
2011 – EFL Interleague Div 1 Team
2011 – Awarded EFL U14 Interleague Div1 MVP (Most Valuable Player)
2012 – U15 Runner Up EFL B&F
2012 – Eastern Ranges Development Squad
2013 – NRFC U17 (Bottom Age) Runner Up B&F
2014 – NRFC U17 (Top Age) & only played first 9 Games before going to Seniors.

Finally after 9 games as a top age U17 at the Junior Club it became evident that Aaron needed to challenge himself more, so he blacked out the J on his Junior Club polo and headed down the road to play in our U19’s side at the Senior Club and to be with big Bro Callum again, who was currently killing it off the HBF in our Senior side.

It didn’t take long for the Senior Coaching team in Brett Moyle, Brad Green & Dallas van Unen to realise the hype about Callum’s brother was for real and he was asked to come and join the Senior squad at training in the week leading up to the Bayswater game.

That Thursday night Moyley announced to the members that 17 year old Aaron Fenton would make his Senior debut against Bayswater at Bayswater and for the first time would play alongside his brother, a very proud Mum & Dad moment.

While there would have been players before most people’s time at the club to debut in the Seniors while still eligible to be playing Juniors, it doesn’t happen that often. There have only been a few in the last 25 years with more recent players like Anthony Sharp, James Dean & current team mate to Azz, Harry Flynn who have achieved this.

A couple of pieces of trivia for the Saints Bruce McAvaney’s out there in relation to Aaron’s Senior debut against Bayswater on Saturday 24th May, 2014 – beside the fact that Aaron’s debut & 100th game is against the same team (Bayswater), it was also this same game that Club legend, former Captain & 2012 Premiership player, James Candler announced his retirement, effective immediately after the game & brought down the curtain on 142 Games with the Saints in the number “33” jumper. Fittingly, it wasn’t to much longer before young Azz would be handed the number “33” jumper, the number he still wears today. Goes without saying, if we had numbered lockers in the change rooms this one would have a couple of bloody good names on it.

In his 99 Games so far Azz has provided our members with some bloody special moments and not to mention the pain & hurt he has provided the opposition with his old fashion tough & rugged, see ball, get ball style of play but also the finesse he has to weave through the midfield & his opponents & to hit a leading forward with a beautifully timed, lace out drop punt. To be able to play as a tough on the ground inside mid with no care for his own safety and an outside ball carrier, can only be achieved by a very special & talented player but Azz can do both with absolute perfection. Let’s face it, very similar to James Candler, 33 must be a very magically number!
For his whole career so far Azz has approached each training, rehab & game with complete dedication, professionalism and the want to get the most out of himself & his team mates to try and achieve the ultimate for team success. He has always put team success ahead of any individual goals & why he is currently Captain of our great club.

As mentioned earlier, Azz has given our members some pretty special moments in his 99 Senior games so far but his efforts as a 17 year old in the 2014 Div 2 EFL Grand Final win over Croydon would have to be bloody hard to trump as his greatest achievement so far and how his inclusion came about. Despite being a pretty comfortable 12 goal win in the end, we went into the sheds at half time completely level at 5.5 a piece. If not for Aaron’s efforts in the first half coming off the pine onto the backline, we would have gone in at the main break a few goals down and the end result could have been a lot different and he would have been in the top 5 BOG’s at that stage of the game.

Aaron was not in the original 22 players named on the Tuesday night. This was a very talented side and had a couple of players coming back from injury but in the end Moyley & the match committee decided the risk on a couple of boys coming back was just too risky. On the Thursday during the day Moyley, knowing that Aaron would be in class at school sent him a text to give him a call after school had finished, yeah like that was going to happen! So during class, while some monotoned English teacher was speaking, Azz saw the text on his phoned, asked his teacher if he could be excused, “I need to call my Coach teach, I think I am in the team for Saturday’s big game” Now that is a great way to find out you are playing in a Grand Final!!

This is now Aaron’s 11th year as a Senior player and it would be pretty hard to argue that 2014 would still be the one he looks at most fondly. That year could also include a possible club first, with Azz playing in 4 different teams in one season before finishing with a Senior Premiership. How is that possible you ask? At the start of the 2014 Season he started as an U17 player, moved to the Senior club after the Junior Rd9 game and played U19/Colts for 9 games. With the Colts having a bye one game, he jumped in & played in one game for the Ressies & as we all know finished playing 8 games in the Seniors, one of them being a Premiership.

Aaron’s Senior Achievements
2014 – Senior Premiership (8 games, 5 goals, 2 best players), 2 games U17, 9 games U19, 1 game Reserves
2015 – TAC Cup (15 games, 3 goals, 10 best players), 3rd B&F Eastern Ranges
2016 – VFL Port Melbourne (3 games, 1 goal)
2017 – Senior B&F (18 games, 11 goals, 10 best players)
2018 – Runner Up Senior B&F (17 games, 10 goals, 8 best players), EFL Representative Team
2019 – 4th Senior B&F (14 games, 7 goals, 11 best players)
2020 – Club Captain Covid19
2021 – Club Captain Covid19 (4 games, 1 best players)
2022 – West London Wildcats (4 games)
2023 – Runner up Senior B&F (16 games, 11 goals, 11 best players)
2024 – Club Captain

While memories of members is different to that of parents, to be able to watch both your boys play together and win a Premiership together would have to be very special moments for Mark & Sally.
Speaking of Mark & Sally, who have been mentioned before in our player milestones, these two wonderful people have done so much for our club & have been instrumental in our clubs & their boys’ success.

Sally has been a Team Manager at the Juniors & on the Sub Committee at the Seniors for many years to help with most likely our most successful fundraiser each year – Ladies Day. Mark has been a Junior Coach, regular boundary umpire & runner & on Committee at Juniors and at the Seniors has been a Team Manager for 7 years, 5 x Colts including two Premierships and currently in his second year as the Senior TM and currently in his 7th year on Senior Committee. Of their 19 years at both clubs, not only have they been active in most of those, they possibly have not missed one club function, spent a house mortgage amount over the bar and have been last to leave on most occasions, along with the Whelan’s, Sharp’s & van Unen’s just to name a few.

While Azz has worn the North Ringwood jumper proudly since 2006 he was lucky enough to experience playing for the West London Wildcats in 2022 for a few games after Dan Andrews allowed a very small window to walk past our letterboxes. Aaron went over to Europe for a few months to do a bit of travelling but as any young blooded Aussie male would do, he played 4 games of Aussie rules in the comp in London with some fellow expats before returning at seasons end.
On a personal note, I (Mark Jonas) have been privileged to be actively involved with Aaron and his wonderful family since day one and watched both boys go from young kids to Senior Premiership players to the great citizens they are today.

Aaron, on behalf of everyone at the NRFC, congratulations on reaching this wonderful milestone, good luck, have a great game & just do what you do best mate!

Get down to Quambee this Saturday Sainters to support Aaron & the boys in his 100th game & to acknowledge this true Saint!