Mandurah Mail football writer Justin Rake takes on the ups and downs of our Peel Football and Netball League in his weekly column ‘Rake’s Rave’.
The Peel Football and Netball League will hand out their must illustrious prize on Monday night, the Ross Elliott Medal.
Awarded to the league’s best and fairest for the entire season, the winner of the vote count joins prestigious company and goes directly in the PFNL’s record books.
But in a season filled with so many talented players, it’s hard to pick one standout, particularly when many of them play in top sides like Baldivis and Pinjarra making it difficult for just one to nab all the votes.
So instead of trying to bundle up a handful of players who have had strong season like I did last year, I figured it’d be easier to go club-by-club and take a look at which of their stars may poll the most.
It’s never easy to pick a standout player from a side that occupied top spot for the majority of the year. Emmanuel Collard and Aden Field have both been outstanding for Baldivis, but Tingey might just have a slight edge when it comes to the vote count. Not being an umpire I base that on absolutely nothing, but Tingey has had a stellar year helping Baldivis to yet another finals campaign and finished with 19 goals. Played in all 18 games, finding himself among the Brumbies’ best in 12 of them, including three straight best-on-ground outings in rounds four, five and six.
Expected to poll: Emmanuel Collard, Aden Field, Eddy Dann, Hayden Lynn.
My personal pick to take out the medal, Gianatti’s season has been nothing short of outstanding for Centrals. As a team the Blues took a while to get motoring into the red-hot form they currently boast, but the star midfielder put his best foot forward from the get-go and has played a key role in his side securing at worst a preliminary final berth. Like Tingey, Gianatti played all 18 games this season, and was among Centrals’ best in 14 of them. The Blues named him their best player on four occasions.
Expected to poll: Jacob Martinez, Callum Collard, Lee Murray, Brett Hill, Grant Dunn, Bruno Faulkner
Pieced together a very consistent season in a vastly improved Halls Head outfit, holding down whatever role was asked of him while leading the way for a young group. Falkstrom has stood out in most Lightning games I got to watch this season and makes an impact on matches in many facets. Another who played every game this year, the midfield star was among his side’s best eight times and earned top team votes for three of them. Faces stiff competition for votes from a few teammates, particularly Tyson Phillips, who was outstanding in his 11 games.
Expected to poll: Luke Humphries, Reece Dillon, Adam Boone, Michael Beeton, Tyson Phillips.
For a side that ended the year with just two wins, Mandurah actually boasts quite a few blokes that might nab some votes on the night. But none stand out more than Bray, who impressed mightily in his first year at the club. Unfortunately he might find it hard to get onto the vote cards with his side copping their share of beltings, but he was particularly good in the final six games of the year, in which the Mustangs coaches and officials named him in their top two players (their best in three of them).
Expected to poll: Stuart Puls, Mitchell White, Jay Walton, Hamish Free.
I don’t really imagine anyone from Pinjarra – the league’s top side – getting too close to this year’s Ross Elliott medal for a couple of reasons. A) Just about every one of their players has the chance to poll votes at some point. B) Barely anyone in their side played a full season given their ever-changing line-up. But O’Brien looms as their best bet at this point after playing 16 games all in the fashion you would expect of a Sandover medalist and two-time WAFL premiership winner. He’s only found himself in Pinjarra’s best four times but that could just be coaches giving the nod to younger or key position players, while umpires may be a huge chance to reward his hard work.
Expected to poll: Rob Beswick, Leroy Jetta, Brennan Gillam, Brock O’Brien, Josh O’Brien, Lloyd Beever, Joel O’Driscoll, Robert Bird.
Picking the Rams’ standout player was no easy task, but Curnow’s start to the season got him over the line for mine. The star mid and former Peel Thunder reserve shone in the early rounds, getting among the Rams’ best in five of the first seven games (two of which he was best on ground). In terms of those best afield votes he tapered off a touch in the final rounds, but like O’Brien could still get recognition from the umpires in the 3-2-1 system. He may need to fend off some his gun teammates if he wants to take home that medal though.
Expected to poll: Fraser Millar, Andrew Stokes, Andrew Walsh, Tyler Sutton.
Andrew Haydon/Brad Holmes
I spent too much time trying to separate one of these Falcons above the other, so instead of further procrastination I’m sitting on the fence. Last year’s winner, Haydon continues to shine in a young Souths midfield and has pieced together a campaign eerily similar to the one that saw him claim the top prize in 2017. Meanwhile, Holmes booted 99 goals, including five bags of eight and one of 10. Haydon has the edge of playing in the midfield, which tends to be noticed more in these vote counts, but if you argue Holmes should poll in each game where he kicks five or more, that’s 12 occasions that he’ll snare a vote. Funnily enough, South Mandurah is the only club to have ever taken out two Ross Elliott medals in the same season, when teammates Paul White and Rowan Arnott shared the award in 2009. Perhaps that feat is on the cards again this year?
Expected to poll: Aaron Zucconi, Chris Swarts, Jaydon Cullen.
A hamstring injury cut his season short in the dying stages of a round 13 clash against Halls Head, but Mason was dominant in Waroona’s midfield prior to that. He only played in 11 games but still did enough to take out runner-up honours in the club’s league best and fairest count, earning a spot in their best players for 10 of those outings (four times best-on-ground). Zac Moody – who won the club B and F – may well end up polling more than Mason, but it’s hard to see either making a huge impact on the count with Waroona suffering their share of drubbings.
Expected to poll: Zac Moody, Brayden Sutton