Could the famed Award of Dee-Merit one day soon pop its head above the rim of the bowl to peer upon prosperous sunlit uplands?
Over to you, Richard Tea:
Just what we needed, another Cattery convulsion. Oh well….on this day 29 years ago we were expectantly ambling down some Footscray backstreet on the way to the Western Oval to watch Robbie Flower’s last ever regular season game (happy birthday by the way T Farndon). No 2016 last round hijinks, as was shaping half likely for a quarter of a millisecond, but it at least there is some muted call for another installment of the Demon Loop Awards.
The Sir Robert Flower Best & Fairest Award – Max Gawn. He certainly convinced me down in Hobart that this could be a banner season when he comprehensively out rucked the then super hot and super hyped Goldstein (who got the “pundits” votes kicking 5 goals – at least 3 from baffling umpire related guano). Max kicking 2 goals and collecting about 20 possessions to boot. Very, very consistent after that with a couple of standout games, Goldstein now well and truly in the rear vision mirror, with 1st ruck in the All Oz undoubtedly a formality. Somehow had hoped he could stay cult ruckman Gary Baker / Strawbs O’Dwyer like B&F material but for us to take the next step he will need to be mainstream consistent Sandilands 5 star material and already building a sizable cult-nixing media profile. Viney will be right up there in the votes again, as will Jones who last played a really poor game when he had no tatts and hair (except perhaps on Saturday…)
The Allen Jakovich Best First Year Player Award – Clayton Oliver. Has there been a more assured start to a Red & Navy Blue draftee’s career?! Perfect mix of hard nut, great hands, near flawless disposal skills and awareness. Crikey. When he had a senior team hiatus mid season we actually really missed him. Wagner had a super debut season. A rookie who when first selected, and even in the massively overindulgent AFL coverage, we’re all going – “who??” Weideman shaking off James’ stalking to post a late season cameo and pointing promisingly towards 2017.
The Guy Rigoni Biggest Surprise Packet Award – Jayden Hunt. Not sighted in ’14 & ’15 due, from vague reports, in some part to injury and almost forgotten about, except for a few whispers that he was rated at the club. Showed a sign or 2 in the pre-season (but only a sign or 2). Debuted in Rd 4 then didn’t miss a game, showing dash off the back half, good overhead, a half decent decision maker given he was mostly at maximum speed and has an eye for goal. You didn’t even think of resting or dropping him back to Casey as he had become such an important cog. A complete revelation. And Andy Moir’s nephew as well as wearing the #29.
The Andrew Leoncelli Most Improved Award – Dean Kent. Played all but 2 games and kicked 25 goals but importantly set up about that many others. Doesn’t look like a footballer somehow (he certainly looks older than 22 yrs old….) but has become a really dangerous forward and would win the ancilliary Michael O’Sullivan Sublime Left Footer Award with a super penetrating left foot kick. Is deceptively quick and can lay a tough tackle.
The Brent Grgic Most Disappointing Award – Dunn / Garland / Grimes. Played 406 games between them (a decent % of the player list in total….) but managed only 12 games combined in ‘16, most early in the season. None really perform poorly but simply got elbowed sideways by promising youngsters who were gaining valuable senior level experience. Question marks hover over all of them sadly, as they have been really loyal troopers in the trenches during The Nadir. They have been checking in routinely for some sort of post combat stress trauma and that’s before thinking about the next career move. “Richmond?.......Richmond?! Oh…..nooooo!!” --> “Nurse, quick – morphine.”
The Paul Hopgood Effort Award – Neville Jetta. Should even be in All Oz debate. Always gets the premier small forward but added more to the attacking side and better disposal. Not bad from a guy who was, for a brief moment, delisted at the start of the Roos era. Out of the Davey-Jurrah-Wonaeamirri-
The Stephen Tingay Young Player Potential Award – Christian Petracca. Hoping the Petracca v McCartin debate with slapheaded Saints mates becomes one of great mirth for us (my Gardenvale barber’s story is gaining suitable coverage). He won’t win the Rising Star, had no real standout games but had decent impact in every game. Used more as a forward but expecting more midfield 5 star factor next season and as J Watts said to J Sitch regarding this season – “only 60% fit”.
The Glenn Lovett Established Player But Could Be A Superstar Award – Jack Watts. Is still only 25 yrs old. 38 goals doubles his best season return. He just appeared to move better over the ground. No debate that he’s given us all major frustration over the journey but great to see him enjoying things so much and he looks a really popular and influential player around the club. An even better All Oz ’17 would be primo.
The Jeff Farmer Demons Goal Of The Year Award – Not many standout to be honest. Brayshaw’s two in Adelaide recently stick in the mind. Especially the sublime left footer after a brilliant build up. Watts’ goal against the Sunnies a clincher but you now just expect him to slot those.
The Shaun Smith Demons Mark Of The Year Award – Cam Pedersen. In the memorable Hawks win. As Tony shouted next to me “The Pedoflier!” Who needs Jeremy Howe (the backman who rarely flew for a mark this season). Pedo is like a genuine 70’s Demons cult player. If he’s not icing games, he’s flying for Careylike marks or conversely impersonating a Casey point post and all this from a straight swap for Gysberts?
The Jeremy Nichols Blink And You’ll Miss Him Award – Jake Melksham. Cannot fault Milkshake’s consistency in ’16. Ultimate clubman (as he trains alone). Along with Hibberd probably coming, it does give Goodwin plenty of options next season.
The Nick Smith X-Factor Award – Sam Frost. His post big toe season got better and better and shapes, after shaking off the “project” tag, as a real Demons cult Lance Percival favourite. Not as a forward / back up ruck however.
The Anthony Ingerson Older Player But Keep On List Until He Claps Out Award – Bernie Vince. A solid season coming off the B&F year (unlike the Bruce-Davey-Green-Maloney post B&F season poisoned chalice). A great story if we were to play successful finals footy with him, as he took a major gamble going from the mega-strong Crows setup to the Demons, who were as popular as the Zika virus at the time.
The Darren Cuthbertson Frustration Award – Jesse Hogan. Ok, he’s only 21 yrs old and did kick 38 goals in the first 16 games this season after a potential brimming Rising Star season…..but…..3 goals in his last 6 games, looked almost uninterested at times, body language making Jack Reiwoldt look good, kicking for goal like a Richo clown and to top it off we’ll have to put up with contract / media silliness well into next year. All this from a guy that DOES look like our best tall forward prospect since Schwarz prowled around early daze. FFS. Christian Salem, a recurring thyroid issue?? And in a season where injuries were unDemonesquely in short supply. Another player to well and truly add into the mix next season. Kennedy-Harris unlucky with injury and hope we keep him, as he shapes as a perfect back up for the flakey Garlett. Would’ve liked to see more of Two Dads but that indicates the depth this year.
The Darren Kowal Designated Kicker Out From Goal Award – Bernie Vince. Did a solid job, as did Wagner once he debuted. No real renowned, patented clangers for once.
Again an ancillary award or two:
The John Northey Type Player Award. Vandenberg / Harmes. You just know Swooper would have LOVED coaching these two. Both tough, no nonsense but have some surprisingly adroit skills.
The T Farndon Bucks Party Demon Legend Appearance Award. Wells / Zantuck / Giles. In Hobart with Will after a post Viking Baker’s Rockwall dinner. Legendary stories, legendary crew, in a word - legendary. Only issue? A red-wine-fuelled-haven’t-had-
Another season that pretty much worked out according to expectations, albeit with a late season exotic mix of sweet brilliance and head thudding incompetence. Got a text after the Port away win - “after so many false dawns you must be looking forward to the years ahead”. Christ almighty. Don’t they know what we’re dealing with here?? We have never handled expectation at all well, as the ’95 / ’99 / ’01 / ’03 / ’07 and even ’11 Shakespearean seasons prove. Having said that, you just think there is something in the powerade at the club this time round. As promising a crop of talented youngsters as we’ve seen (inclusive of the “Jack Watts’ Top 4 for 2017”), the best ruckman in the league, midfield options building, forward line having a potential major leaguer (still well and truly potential with Hoges), kicking more goals than the last decade combined, a backline that, while showing some shaky signs, possesses building talent, ex-Bomber pin cushions to be added and who knows with the trade / draft period. Consistent top 4? Well, I will believe it when I see it. Doubtless some witchdoctor and his brainwashed disciples are mixing up a really potent potion, as little Demon dolls are thrown into the bubbling cauldron amid cackling laughter.
Whatever the case, the F word is now comfortably and conceivably on the table for ‘17. Job done Roosy. Well done sir. As he will now say – “you have got to love this club!”