In this round-up of South Australian footy news and characters, we ask how many more SANFL players will reach the 250-game milestone, and explain why the SAAFL were embarrassed last weekend.
With the changing structures of state football, when Paul Thomas runs onto Gliderol Stadium this Friday and becomes a 250-game SANFL footballer, he may just be last to achieve this milestone.
His raw achievements suggest his greatness as a SANFL footballer: the 2004 Magarey Medal, six SANFL premierships (including four as Centrals’ skipper), seven SANFL Team of the Year honours and the Bob Quinn Medal as the best player on ANZAC Day on no less than four occasions. He has represented the state consistently since 2003 and held the SA captaincy for the past four years. Throw in a pair Norm Russell Medals as the Bulldogs’ best and fairest, and you can tell why he is an icon at the Ponderosa.
He was drafted to Essendon in 2005 and played eight senior AFL games that year before being the last player dropped off the list the following year.
The awards only tell a part of the story. If you have a chat to Centrals’ people, it’s Thomas’s work ethic, preparation and leadership that stand out.
Former Bulldogs champion James Gowans explained what his teammate’s legacy is at Central District.
“Thommo’s been awesome player for our club in a really strong period,” Gowans said. “From the club’s heartland, he grew up at a Doggies supporter.
“What he’s done is purely achieved on hard work. His work ethic is exceptional – his teammates see how hard he works.
“He broke into the side as a lad and played his role.
“A role model, he’s durable and a real credit to himself and his family.
“But, he could have given away a few less free kicks over the journey.”
Paul Thomas is a second generation Bulldog. His father Jamie played 153 league games from the early 1980s.
Brothers Chris and Nick Schmidt, who hail from Robertstown in the Mid North, are close in more ways than one.
Both are club captains, with former Brisbane and Adelaide-listed player Chris, the on-field leader at West Adelaide, while Nick is skipper at the Barossa, Light and Gawler club, Tanunda.
Whenever possible the brothers travel to watch each other play.
While they couldn’t see each other’s performance last Saturday, both had a significant impact in their respective contests.
Chris was best on ground in the Bloods’ brilliant come from behind victory against Woodville West Torrens at Oval Avenue.
He impact was immense with 28 disposals, 10 marks, six tackles and seven clearances.
At Adelaide Oval, Nick was a part of SA Country’s frugal defence, which handsomely won the annual MAC Cup game by 16 goals against the Goodwood Saints, representing the city slickers. The Country defence conceded just three points against the best SAAFL side in 2014.
Talking about the MAC Cup City verses Country Challenge, this curtain raiser to Port Adelaide’s match against Sydney was a disappointment for Saints coach Trent Mills.
His language was too colourful for this column, but he reiterated that the performance was NOT indicative of the Goodwood Football Club.
“If we played like we did against Port Adelaide Magpies in the trial the previous week, we would have been competitive,” Mills said.
“There was none of that intensity we had against Port.
“Beside Shane Tuck, who will be back at some stage, we were close to full strength.”
Over the previous eight years the country/city MAC Cup match has pitched an SA Country side against a city amateur league under-23 team.
This year, the SAAFL decided to instead field the division one premiers – the Goodwood Saints – to represent the city. And they were embarrassed.
Key performers in the 14.15 (99) to 0.3 (3) SA Country win were South Clare ruckman Michael Liebelt, who jumped all over former Norwood premiership big man Angus Clarke and former Port Adelaide Magpie Mark Paget.
The midfield was outstanding, led by Peter Kitschke Medallist Ben McIntyre (Penola) and co-captains Simon Berkefeld (South Gambier) and Reece Francis (Tasman).
The Country team had a pair of good targets in attack with high-leading medium forward Adam Jolly kicking 4.4, and raw tall forward/ruckman from West Gambier Daron McElroy kicked three.
Two losses in two days
It hasn’t been a great start to the 2015 campaign for Woodville West Torrens senior coach Michael Godden.
The 2011 SANFL premiership coach saw his side run over by West Adelaide on Saturday.
His opposition coach for the first half was his SANFL reserves premiership captain at Glenelg, Jack Horan, who was running the show because senior coach Mark Mickan was suffering from gastro.
On Sunday morning Godden was assistant coach for his son Jacob’s Under 13s game for the Unley Jets.
They ran into a potent Plympton Bulldogs side and endured a large defeat as well.
Golden first kick
Port Lincoln lad Keenan Ramsey started his SANFL league career with the Crows in the best possible way.
Within the opening minute of the game against North Adelaide at Prospect, Ramsey took a strong chest mark and proceeded to join the club of players who boot a goal with their first kick in the competition.
Memo to his teammates – you should get around and celebrate with a lad when he achieves something this special!
SANFL video highlights
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