Three players, all with a connection to Alberton, are the favourites for the Magarey Medal, the SANFL’s highest individual honour.
Each played their first senior game in the traditional prison-bar jumper, but only one is left at the club.
Port Adelaide Magpies captain Steve Summerton, Sturt midfielder Zac Kirkwood (who moved across from Alberton in 2013) and North Adelaide’s Jay Shannon (a Port country zone recruit) are expected to be the prime movers in tonight’s Medal count.
Summerton wins plenty of the ball, both on the inside and outside.
He hasn’t the elite speed of some of his teammates, but is rarely caught and his delivers the ball with class.
Jay Shannon, a ‘Mail’ Medallist with Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsula as a 16-year-old, has been the Roosters key in the engine room.
He has already achieved a Quinn Medal honours on ANZAC day, another medal at the annual Sandiland Cup game between North and Glenelg.
With the Double Blues returned to being a dominant force, hard running and ball winning midfielder Zane Kirkwood has been a vital ingredient.
He is also a ball magnet with a high work ethic, while his skills are strong and he uses the ball well.
Expect Kirkwood to be the early leader in the count, with the question being whether he can hold as the Double Blues form becomes patchier in the last third of the season.
The bolter in this year’s Magarey Medal is the Redlegs’ strong-bodied midfielder Matt Panos.
In a piece of coaching genius by Ben Warren, Panos has been transformed from a marking forward into a ball-winning centreman.
A couple of ruckmen, Panther Keegan Brooksby and Redleg Sam Baulderstone, should also poll well.
Brooksby’s athletic ability at the stoppages is impressive, while another strength is a breadth of possession in general play. A basketballer as a junior, he is the son (and a nephew) of a club greats, Phil and Graham.
Baulderstone, a premiership player in this first year at the Parade, dropped 40kg to play SANFL football and his skills are exceptional for a 200cm big man.
At Central District, dashing defender Chad Barmby and excepted draft pick Josh Glenn should be their best pollers.
At North, besides Shannon, left footer Nick Amato is considered a ‘smokie’, while Marlon Motlop made secure votes in the second half of the season.
For the Eagles Luke Jarrad should poll well again, but there is little chance the amalgamated club will have a first Magarey Medallist in 2014.
Other Magpies that will take votes from Summerton include Power listed players Ben Newton, Tom Logan and Jake Neade.
Joel Cross, the 2012 Magarey Medallist, is a proven vote catcher. He and first year player Brent Macleod could also poll well for the Panthers, but with the diversity of on-ballers many South players should grab votes from each other.
Matt Crouch has a number of outstanding games for the Crows’ SANFL side and is expected to secure votes.
West Adelaide’s Taite Silverlock is a spectacular footballer. Alongside the ineligible Chris Schmidt, he is expected to be the Bloods top vote catcher, while Glenelg just didn’t win enough game to have anyone in serious consideration.
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