One of the biggest nights on the Tasmanian football calendar is nearly upon us, with Wrest Point hosting the Tasmanian Football Awards this Saturday September 22, where the Alastair Lynch Medal will be presented to the Tasmanian State League’s best and fairest player.
The Alastair Lynch Medal is the Tasmanian State League’s equivalent to the AFL’s Brownlow Medal and is named after champion Tasmanian footballer Alastair Lynch – a Burnie-born three-time Premiership star who played 306 VFL/AFL games and kicked 633 goals, and was named in the Tasmanian Team of the Century.
North Launceston star Brad Cox-Goodyer took home the medal in 2017, joining illustrious company in Jaye Bowden (2016, 2015, 2012), Daniel Roozendaal (2014), Mitch Thorp (2013), Tim Bristow (2011), Brett Geappen (2010) and Kurt Heazlewood (2009).
How The Alastair Lynch Medal is Awarded
After each match, the three field umpires award a 3, 2 and 1 point vote to the players they regarded the best, second best and third best on ground respectively. A player becomes ineligible for the Medal if he is suspended for a reportable offence during the season.
The votes are tallied at the end of the home and away rounds to determine the season’s Alastair Lynch Medallist, with the medal count taking place on Friday the 6th of October at the Tasmanian Football Awards in Launceston.
Here are the predictions for each side’s top vote-getters and outside chances:
A number of candidates spring to mind in the red and white for the TSL’s highest honour, with recruits Troy Cunliffe and Ryan Bailey both immediately impressing in their first seasons.
Cunliffe, a duel William Leitch Medal winner in the SFL, is a ball-winning machine, while Ryan Bailey, named as the ruckman in the Team of the Year, won several games off his own boot and should poll well.
Star utility Jake Cox will also likely feature at the pointy end of the count, despite being ineligible through suspension.
Clarence skipper Brady Jones and coach Jeromey Webberley should both catch the umpire’s attention after strong campaigns, while young gun Fletcher Seymour and ex-Tiger Chris Nield could also feature.
Finishing the home and away season in second position has seen a raft of Magpies perform well throughout the season, however RACT Insurance Player of the Year Daniel Joseph and three-time Lynch Medalist Jaye Bowden are likely the biggest chances for the medal to return to Glenorchy.
Joseph had an exceptional season back in the TSL after playing for Aspley in the NEAFL, cementing his reputation as one of Tasmania’s best kicks and most damaging running defenders.
Bowden, although perhaps not as dominant as previous seasons, has still had a strong campaign, finishing with 46 goals – the second most in the competition. Bowden’s ability to break a game apart, like he did on several occasions this season, may see him again feature prominently.
You could mount an argument that many of the competition’s most improved players are based at KGV, with Callen Daly and Ben Kamaric taking their games to another level in 2018. Expect these two to pick up votes, particularly with both players delivering several standout individual performances.
Rhys Mott, although ineligible through suspension, will likely pick up a number of votes after another strong campaign that saw him named in the TSL Team of the Year.
Ruckman Cameron Duffy and impressive utility Harrison Gunther may also feature throughout the evening.
Lauderdale’s engine room has been excellent in 2018, with Phil Bellchambers and Nat Franklin leading the Southern Bombers all season.
Both Bellchambers and Franklin earned Team of the Year honours and look likely to poll the most votes, although Bellchambers is ineligible after being suspended during the season.
Lauderdale has been aided by consistent team performances for much of the season, meaning big man Haydn Smith, star defender Josh McGuinness and classy wingman Rhys Sutton could win their fair share of umpire love. However, such an even spread makes it difficult to see a Lauderdale player taking out the ultimate prize.
The Blues may be another side that could fall victim to having too many consistent contributors and not enough standouts after another strong campaign.
Dylan Riley played a plethora of roles throughout the season and should poll well, while key forward Mitch Thorp is also likely to be rewarded for his Hudson Medal winning season.
Midfield gun Brodie Palfreyman had a solid season and should poll well, while ineligible ruckman Hamish Leedham and young gun Chayce Jones should also pick up votes, with the latter’s final stretch of the season something to behold.
It has been a difficult season for the North Hobart Demons, with the club injecting plenty of youth after a host of personnel changes over the summer.
It is difficult to see any Demons competing at the pointy end of the Lynch Medal count, but experienced leaders Hugh NJ Williams and Hugh M Williams will likely pick up votes throughout the season after leading from the front and playing strong defensive roles.
Young guns Will Peppin, Mitch O’Neill, Baxter Norton and Samuel Collins all missed football throughout the season due to the representative duties, but all showed what they are capable of in senior football. Don’t be surprised to see this young brigade leading the charge for the Dees.
The premiers only lost two matches for the season, with a host of stars performing consistently throughout the entire campaign.
Reigning Lynch Medalist Brad Cox-Goodyer again stood out throughout the season and despite battling injury worries, could feature prominently at the pointy end of the count.
Coach Taylor Whitford has also had a magnificent season, highlighted by his RACT Insurance Player of the Year crown. The change in responsibility clearly hasn’t affected Whitford’s form, with the premiership coach kicking 36 goals as a rotating midfielder/forward.
Josh Ponting is another player likely to get the attention of the umpires, having performed consistently in the middle of the ground all year. Sometimes going under the radar in a team full of stars, Ponting’s efforts this season have been as important as anyone’s.
The biggest challenge for such players is whether they have done enough to stand out in such a talented and star-studded line-up, with so many guns vying for votes.
Key midfielder Mark Walsh is another player that doesn’t receive the plaudits of some of his teammates, so expect his efforts in the guts to pick up some votes, while key forward Tom Bennett and versatile swingman Zach Burt could also poll well.
Although the Tigers again missed out on a tilt at finals football, the side remained competitive for much of the season.
It is difficult to see a Tiger standing on stage with the Lynch Medal at the end of Saturday night, but a number of players may edge towards double figures after consistent seasons.
Will Campbell has been the midfield general in his first season at the Twin Ovals and with his explosiveness and ability to find the football, will likely catch the attention of the umpire fraternity.
Team of the Year member Mitch Carter has also had a consistent season, largely spent as a forward. A lovely kick of the football and good mover, the former Carlton-listed player is likely to feature among the votes.
Named as a small forward in the Team of the Year, Luke Graham‘s breakout campaign may also see him pick up votes along the way. Former Hobart City Demon Blake Grant also impressed, particularly in the back half of the season where he became a consistent cog in the midfield.