After what has been a very enjoyable, but at times frustrating, first eleven weeks in the AFL it is time to roll out my mid season awards. No doubt I will be called out by many but as always you are welcome to have your say and give your nominations for the players that you think are deserving of the following gongs.
BEST TALL – Matthew Pavlich
A very tough race this year but one that has seen the key position players out rank the ruckmen in my book. Pavlich gets the nod after being one goal off the lead in the Coleman Medal race and two marks behind the leader in that category. The Pav edges out Buddy Franklin whose inaccuracy in front of goals cost him and also Dustin Fletcher who loses a point or two in my book for spending so much time as a loose man in defence.
BEST SMALL – Chris Judd
Judd is once again at the head of the class when it comes to the best small man in the AFL. He has done it this year without Ben Cousins and also without Kerr at times yet he has still dominated week in and week out. He faces stiff opposition from Jimmy Bartel who is in career best form at the Catery and also from Brad Johnson who has turned in some truly dominating performances up forward for the Bulldogs.
BEST ROOKIE – Alwyn Davey
Davey, has for me, been the pick of the 2006 draft thus far. The impact he has had on the Bombers has been pronounced and there is no doubt that he makes those playing around him look better. Bryce Gibbs has also been excellent along with many others in this highly touted draft class but for mine Davey has them all covered thus far in terms of the impact he has had on his club and teammates.
MOST IMPROVED – Hamish McIntosh
Big Hamish has been outstanding in leading the Kangarooâ€™s on ball brigade. For the past few years many have seen the promise that McIntosh has failed to deliver on but this year he has hit his straps. He is leading the Kangaroos midfield from the front and is helping the likes of Swallow and Harris dominate the clearances on a weekly basis. Others that were in consideration included Brad Sewell, Nick Malceski and Harry Oâ€™Brien.
BIGGEST SURPRISE – Kangaroos
What can I say about the Roos? I wrote them off completely at the start of the season and had them picking up the wooden spoon. At this stage they are much more likely to win a flag than they are the spoon and thus they are worthy award winners here. Dean Laidley has the list playing for each other in a way that almost no other team is, and itâ€™s fair to say that the shinboner spirit is well and truly alive at Arden Street.
BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENT – St Kilda
A new coach and a quiet preseason in terms of media coverage gave me high hopes when looking at where the Saints might end up in 2007. As it stands they are riddled with injuries, there is speculation about their star players leaving and Grant Thomas and Rod Butters look like they are going to go for a full 15 rounds in the media. Meanwhile the Saints fans are becoming disillusioned and are wondering just where the next win might come from. Cleary the Saints have been this yearâ€™s most disappointing outfit, just ahead of the Dees!
THE BIGGEST ISSUE – Hands in the Back
Kevin Bartlett and his rules committee have plenty to answer for with the contentious ‘hands in the back’ rule. It has caused conjecture and controversy every week and the inconsistencies in the application of the rule are driving fans mad. Richo has been the rule’s most unlucky victim but there are plenty of other players that seem to have gotten away with much worse. As long as the AFL keeps its head in the sand and continues to ignore the discontent amongst its fans, this rule and its implementation will remain an issue for all footy followers.
ALL AUSTRALIAN TEAM
B: Hodge, Glass, D.Fletcher
HB: Milburn, C.Cornes, Lockyer
C: Kerr, Sewell, Ling
HF: Lucas, Franklin, Pavlich
F: B.Harvey, Fevola, B.Johnson
R: McIntosh, Judd, Bartel
Int: G.Ablett, Black, West, Simpson
Article written by Luke Mather from oneweekatatime.com.au