Mail-Times sports journalist JORDAN McARDLE shares his thoughts on selecting the 2013 Wimmera Football League team of the year...
I NOW know how selectors feel when picking a team of the year.
It was a massive challenge and I’m sure there would be a few people feeling stiff they missed out.
Dimboola’s Josh Rentsch and Lachie Exell, RSL Digger Kye Chapple, Horsham’s John Wood and Stawell’s Shane Field can all consider themselves unlucky for not getting in.
And then there were some easy positions to fill, like Dimboola’s Ash Clugston on a half-forward flank and Demon Tyler Blake as a running defender.
Fellow Horsham player Rhona Conboy is one I’ve really been impressed with this season. He plays like a veteran key defender and gives his opponents nothing.
The two premiership favourites Horsham and Dimboola each have five players in the side, which I think says a lot about how far ahead they are of their nearest rivals.
Third-placed Warrack Eagles only had one player, key forward Peter Weir, in the mix.
But Weir’s team mate Jarred Martin would have joined if his season wasn’t cut short by a foot injury.
Many of the players selected represented the Wimmera in interleague this season, and others will in seasons to come.
Stuart Farr was named coach for obvious reasons, with the first-year Dimboola coach playing a big part in his side’s rise up the ladder.
Tim Inkster has also done a fantastic job in his first season at the helm of Warrack Eagles, especially after the departure of key players after last season’s grand-final loss to Horsham.
All nine Wimmera league clubs are represented.
Jordan's Wimmera league team of the year:
Stuart Farr, Dimboola: Farr has been impressive in his first season as coach of the Roos after his off-season departure from Horsham. He’s taken the Roos from a top-five side to a serious premiership contender. Only time will tell if he can knock his former club off its perch.
Tim Inkster, Warrack Eagles: Most people predicted Warrack Eagles to slide down the ladder after a stack of exits during the pre-season. Inkster has had his work cut out for him to keep the Eagles in the top five. He not only did that, but helped them gain the all-important double chance. Not to mention he’s a handy forward option when he’s able to get himself on the park.
Jackson Dark, Stawell: Jackson Dark is part of an exciting new generation of Warriors defenders coming through the ranks. He is the go-to man down back for Stawell and has proved to be a tough opponent for the Wimmera league’s best spearheads.
Rhona Conboy, Horsham: It’s hard to believe Rhona Conboy is in his first full season of seniors and can still qualify for under-17s. Conboy has maturity well beyond his years on the football field and Demons co-coaches Jordyn Burke and Brad Hartigan have no worries in giving him some daunting assignments.
Tom Magee, Dimboola: Tom Magee has been an integral cog in the Roos’ defence this season, whether it’s as a running defender or as a tagger. He’s also more than handy when he plays on-ball. Magee did what nobody this season has managed to do, keeping Gavin Kelm goalless in round 17 against the Saints.
Damian Cameron, Horsham RSL Diggers: The hard-nosed utility has enjoyed a stellar debut season in the Wimmera league after moving across from Mininera and District outfit Tatyoon. Can play pretty much any position on the ground, but is at his best across the half-back line. Cameron was the shining light in a tough year for the Diggers and more than earned his Big W jersey in May.
Phil Butsch, Horsham Saints: The reigning Toohey Medallist has once again had a season to remember in 2013. Butsch is another player who is damaging at both ends of the ground or in the centre, making him a very difficult man to match up on. Missed a few games this season but will be a good chance for back-to-back league best and fairest awards.
Tyler Blake, Horsham: There’s no doubting that Blake owns the half-back flank. Has pace to burn and uses it to his advantage as a running defender. The former North Ballarat Rebel has carried on where he left off in last year’s Wimmera Football League grand final.
Kade Petering, Minyip-Murtoa: Petering has been a consistent performer for the Burras in 2013. He has really asserted himself as a rising star of the Wimmera league and coach Scott Arnold can’t speak highly enough of him. The exciting youngster has played in all 16 matches this season and was named in his side’s best nine times.
Al McKinnon, Dimboola: The Dimboola skipper has led from the front this season and thrived through the centre. McKinnon is another interleague representative who is a pleasure to watch. Seems to play his best football against fellow top-five sides and is a no-nonsense player who loves donning the green and gold.
Mathew Jones, Nhill: With a flowing mullet and a sleeve tattoo, it’s hard to miss Mathew Jones on the field. But it’s his footy that has been eye-catching this season. He’s got the pace of a midfielder and is the size of a key position player, making him very hard to match up on. Jones was a big reason behind the Tigers’ rise up the ladder in 2013.
Ash Clugston, Dimboola: In my opinion, Ash Clugston is the best player in the Wimmera league. Clugston had massive wraps from Roos coach Stuart Farr during pre-season and has more than lived up to expectations. He’s a pleasure to watch in his favourite position across the half-forward flank or as an on-baller. He certainly knows where the goals are, booting 62 majors in his first season back at Dimboola.
Dylan Parish, Horsham: When it comes to kicking goals, Dylan Parish is one of the best in the business. The Horsham captain kicked 43 goals in 13 matches, but played a mixture of forward and midfield roles. He didn’t play in the Demons last two home-and-away fixtures but should play a massive part in his side’s finals campaign.
Jordyn Burke, Horsham: Horsham co-coach Jordyn Burke has taken his game to another level in 2013 and looks to really enjoy his added responsibilities. Interleague and VCFL selection were among many highlights this season, but all Burke really wants is to lead the Demons to an 11th straight WFL crown next month.
Peter Weir, Warrack Eagles: Any forward line with Peter Weir is a dangerous one. Weir has that X-factor about him and when he’s on-song, there are few better attackers in the competition. He’s a player Warrack Eagles coach Tim Inkster loves to hate, but there’s no denying his talent and ability in front of the sticks.
Gavin Kelm, Horsham Saints: Kelm’s record up forward for the Saints this season speaks for itself. The tough veteran kicked goals in 15 of his 16 Wimmera league matches including a bag of 11 against Horsham RSL Diggers in round 11. Kelm won the league goal-kicking with 73 majors.
Alex Thomson, Horsham: Thomson is somewhat of a quiet achiever in the Demons’ forward-line. He plays the small-forward role to perfection and can slot it through from nearly any angle. He has plenty of pace and skill and is exciting to watch.
Justin Chilver, Dimboola: Dimboola big man Justin Chilver has towered about the rest since moving from Mallee Football League side Jeparit-Rainbow during the off-season. Earned interleague selection for the second straight season, only this time he was playing for the Wimmera rather than against it. Has one of the longest boots in the competition and loves to kick a massive barrel from outside the arc.
Nick Pekin, Horsham: Nick Pekin is the Demons’ Mr Dependable. The classy left-footer and reigning Binns Medallist was one of three Wimmera players who earned VCFL selection. Pekin should be right up there in this year’s Toohey Medal vote count. Pekin has also drifted forward for a return of 30 goals this season.
Tom Eckel, Stawell: Tom Eckel has relished the co-captaincy role at Central Park this season. The 19-year-old has never lacked talent, but it has been his leadership that has stood out in 2013. He has had to step up after a mass exodus of senior players during the off-season and is now one of the elite on-ballers in the Wimmera league.
Andrew Seers, Dimboola: Seers has played a vital role in the Roos’ rise up the ladder in 2013. The former Taylors Lake and Horsham midfielder has slotted well into Dimboola’s engine room and was named in his side’s best six times out of 10 matches.
Jake Williamson, Ararat: Jake Williamson has been Ararat’s best and most consistent player this season. Williamson is a tough on-baller with an exceptional work-rate. Despite missing a few games through the middle of the year with an ankle injury, Williamson should poll well in both club and league best and fairest awards.
John Delahunty, Minyip-Murtoa: The Burras’ favourite son has been sensational in his return to his home club. The reliable midfielder was named in the Burras’ best 11 times out of 14 matches.
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