WITH sights set toward finals for teams fortunate enough to secure their spots, now is the time to honour our season’s best across all competitions. Our Under 18s make strong cases for first round selection, AFL’s debutantes get the recognition they deserve, and we get a glimpse of some finals football with Box Hill facing Port Melbourne in the VFL’s second Elimination Final.
Morrish Medal and TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest announced
Sandringham Dragons’ Liam Stocker has taken out 2018’s TAC Cup best and fairest, securing the Morrish Medal, joining Calder Cannons captain Madison Prespakis and Geelong Falcons’ Nina Morrison as the best players in their respective competitions. Stocker joins the likes of Hugh McCluggage, Clayton Oliver and Jack Higgins as a medal recipient despite only playing 12 games after suffering a broken jaw. The big-bodied midfielder recovered and rebounded to finish the year strong, similarly to Prespakis who secured seven votes in the last three rounds to tie with Morrison. The pair have both been named in the Women’s Under 18 All Australian side and are pegged as the first two picks in October’s National draft.
Tim Kelly named best first year player
The AFL Players’ Association have awarded the Best First Year Player Award to Geelong’s Tim Kelly. While the 24-year-old was ineligible for the NAB Rising Star due to his age, it seems to us all that he has well and truly risen. Speedy and powerful, Kelly averaged 23.1 disposals, four clearances, three tackles and three inside 50s across 22 games. He placed as Geelong’s fourth highest goalkicker behind Dangerfield, kicking 23 for the season. The South Fremantle star managed to slip into a midfield with the likes of Selwood, Ablett and Dangerfield – a trio with more personal accolades than some AFL teams – like he had been there for years. There was never any doubt.
Jaidyn Stephenson wins NAB Rising Star Award
It’s been a while since a debutante stepped into the AFL with the confidence and self-assurance of Jaidyn Stephenson. Taken at pick No. 6 in last year’s NAB AFL Draft, the Eastern Ranges’ icon secured the NAB Rising Star Award with 52 votes, edging out Adelaide’s Tom Doedee by 10 votes. Last year brought his AFL player career into question following news of a genetic heart condition, but Stephenson has more than squashed those worries, becoming one of the AFL’s biggest goal sneaks in his debut year. For goals, Stephenson finished ahead of the likes of Dustin Martin, Jarryd Roughead and Eddie Betts, placing 21st in the competition. Win or lose, September will give the youngster a taste of AFL’s next level, and given his confidence, I have no doubt we will see him take it on.
Box Hill Hawks triumph over Port Melbourne in extra time
In one for the ages, the Box Hill Hawks took home the win over Port Melbourne in the VFL’s second Elimination Final in extra time. With the first half of the game going the Hawks’ way, keeping Port Melbourne goalless in the second and holding a 30-point lead at halftime. It was a massive third quarter effort by Port Melbourne that saw them back in the fight, kicking five goals to Box Hill’s one. The Hawks’ effectiveness in front of goal dropped immensely, but in the end, it was two extra time goals kicked by James Cousins and Chris Jones and a huge difference in behinds that knocked back a resilient Port Melbourne outfit.
The 2018 AFL Women’s Under 18 All Australian announced
Following the completion of the recent State of Origin match, the AFL Women’s U18 All Australian team was announced with more than one third being made up by bottom-agers. Victoria boasted the largest showing, with Queensland landing six to outdo Vic Metro and place second behind the seven picked out of Vic Country. The AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships’ Most Valuable Players, Madison Prespakis, Nina Morrison and Alyce Parker all received selections, along with South Australia’s MVP, Montana McKinnon and Queensland’s MVP, Natalie Grider. In October, many of these ladies are set line up for the AFLW National Draft and begin their careers at the highest level come next year.