One of the biggest nights on the Tasmanian football calendar is nearly upon us, with Blundstone Arena to host the Tasmanian State League Awards on Saturday October 5.
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 Josh Ponting took home the 2018 gong, joining illustrious company in Brad Cox-Goodyer (2017), 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 Medalist.
Here are the predictions for each side’s top vote-getters and outside chances:
Clarence captain Brady Jones had a vintage season, shouldering the bulk of midfield responsibility and handling it with aplomb. Named in the Team of the Year and rarely played a poor game. A model of consistency and should feature in the votes as a result.
Ruckman Ryan Bailey, although a touch below his 2018 form at the start of the season, finished the year with a bang. A ball-winning ruckman who makes his presence felt around the ground, expect Bailey to pick up votes, especially in the run home.
Coach Jeromey Webberley also had some strong performances throughout the year, as did versatile forward Chris Nield.
The Magpies should have a number of players at the pointy end of the count, with clearance machine Ben Kamaric likely to be rewarded for his breakout season with votes.
A watchable player, Kamaric finds plenty of the football and can break lines, making him a player who would stand out in front of the whistle-blowers.
Hudson Medalist Aiden Grace should poll well, despite the award typically being won by midfielders.
Excitement machine Callen Daly should also bob up with votes throughout the season, as should stalwart Jaye Bowden.
Lauderdale proved to be the competition’s benchmark for much of season 2019, so expect a host of players to poll well.
The issue might be whether someone can win despite votes being taken from one another.
Ruckman Haydn Smith, although ineligible, enjoyed a standout season, while versatile recruit Sam Siggins also enjoyed a strong campaign in a variety of positions.
Captain Bryce Walsh is always doing the tough things at the coal face and consistently finds plenty of the ball. Fellow midfielder Phil Bellchambers should also feature prominently, while state U25 captain Josh McGuinness, who didn’t register a vote last season, may be a player to keep an eye on.
The Blues have a couple of standout candidates for the top award in midfield bulls Jobi Harper and Fletcher Seymour.
Seymour, who finished second in the RACT Insurance Player of the Year Award, emerged as one of the competition’s best inside midfielders and should receive top marks on a number of occasions.
Harper was similarly impressive, recapturing some of his best form as a settled midfielder after playing as a defender last season in his return from injury.
Brodie Palfreyman spent more time on a wing in 2019 and may pick up some votes for his work on the outside. Tim Bristow should also feature after a standout second half of the year. Livewire forward Dylan Riley also impressed after returning to the club midway through the season.
Sam Darley has been Mr. Everywhere for the Demons in 2019, dominating in the midfield while also finding plenty of the ball in defensive and attacking 50.
A precise user and ball magnet, Darley is the sort of player who is impossible to ignore when in full flight.
Key forward Colin Garland was enormous whenever in the red and blue, steering the side to a breakthrough victory over Clarence, while also nearly single-handedly dragging the side over the line against eventual premier North Launceston. Should poll a number of votes in both wins and losses.
Inside bull Nathan McCulloch should also pick up votes after another consistent season under the noses of the umpires.
The usual suspects in Brad Cox-Goodyer Josh Ponting should again feature prominently.
Cox-Goodyer, the 2017 winner, claimed the 2019 RACT Insurance Player of the Year award after a 45-goal season, largely spent as a midfielder.
Ponting, the 2019 Baldock Medalist has enjoyed a similarly consistent season off the back of clinching the Lynch Medal in 2018. A known poller, Ponting should again be near the top of the tree.
Coach Taylor Whitford is always a gamebreaker and should feature among the votes. Midfield recruit Jordan Tepper should also poll, while running defender Jay Foon was at his eye-catching best throughout the year.
Dynamic midfield duo Kieran Lovell and Ryan Matthews are likely to be the Tigers’ leading contenders.
Lovell is a gamebreaker and consistently racks up bulk possessions as a daring midfielder, while Matthews often goes unheralded with his toughness and work at the coalface. Both should be rewarded for their Team of the Year seasons with votes throughout the night.
Although unlikely to be at the pointy end of the count, players like Jarryd Drew and Sam Duigan may pick up votes throughout the evening due to some eye-catching games they delivered throughout the year.