By Will Hunter
Well, this is it - the final installment of my SFNL Fantasy series. And the forward line is the one I've been looking forward to selecting most of all.
It would have been easy to simply pick forwards for my team based largely around last season's goalkicking table, however, that's not what I've done. Perhaps controversially, no 2015 league leading goalkicker has selected in my side (Trevor March would have been, but is no certainty to front up for Carrum Patterson Lakes this year).
Rather, I've decided to go with players that turn a game in mere minutes, win matches off their own boot and bring genuine flair and excitement to the SFNL. They might not fire every single week, but when they do, they put on an incredible show. These are the players that bring fans through the gates each week.
AFL stars like Buddy Franklin, Jack Riewoldt and Josh Kennedy (the West Coast one) can be diamonds one week but rocks the next. Yet, they are are among the popular fantasy picks because their best games as so good you can forgive them for their quiet weeks. And this is the mindset I've adopted in selecting the forwards for Wilbur's Warriors.
Phil Smith (Chelsea Heights) VICE CAPTAIN
The Big Show certainly lived up to his name last year. He averaged 4 goals per game with the Vampires and looked at times simply unstoppable. A powerful full forward, Smith returns to former club Chelsea Heights for 2016 and will no doubt give Division 2 defenders nightmares. He can also pinch hit in the ruck and will start the year as a very short-priced favourite to win the League goalkicking award.
[caption id="attachment_10807" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
The Big Show returns to Beazley Reserve in 2016.[/caption]
Daniel Farmer (Dingley)
The former Collingwood-listed player started the year like a house on fire and went on to claim Dingley’s best and fairest. Can play in the midfield, but is perhaps more suited to role at half-forward where he can turn a game in minutes with his incredible goal sense and footy smarts. If Farmer fires again this season, the Dingoes are a big chance to go back to back.
[caption id="attachment_10801" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Dingo Dan Farmer had a super 2015 season.[/caption]
Stewart Scanlon (Clayton)
The livewire forward had a stellar first season at Meade Reserve after switching from Narre Warren with brother Nick at the end of 2014. He booted 54 goals - an impressive return - and lit up the forward line with flashes of brilliance. I'm expecting him (and his brother) to be even more damaging this year as the Clays stake their claim for a finals berth.
[caption id="attachment_10802" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Stewart Scanlon and his brother Nick form a deadly double team in Clayton's forward line.[/caption]
Pat Nicholls (Bentleigh)
The older brother of the Gold Coast Suns’ Tom formed part of Cheltenham’s imposing forward double act with Chris Graham for the last two seasons. The ex-North Ballarat Rooster has since crossed to Bentleigh, and will be a welcome addition to their structure. I'm tipping Nicholls to have a breakout year in his new colours and really take the competition by storm.
[caption id="attachment_10803" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Pat Nicholls displays his aerial prowess with a strong contested grab.[/caption]
Travis Ridgway (St Pauls)
An electric small forward with a knack for slotting the impossible goal. Speedy, elusive and a difficult match-up for any defender, Ridgway can create scoring opportunities out of nowhere. The mercurial forward is capable of turning a game in minutes if given any space and is an integral part of the Dogs' line up. Twice the league's leading goalkicker and slotted 123 majors back in 2009.
[caption id="attachment_10804" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Livewire Travis Ridgway has got freakish skills and regularly bamboozles opponents.[/caption]
James Morris (Mordialloc)
Morris finished second in the Division 1 goalkicking table (69 majors) and caused major headaches for opposition defences. The Bloods’ spearhead is capable of kicking big bags and impacts games with his silky skills and uncanny goal sense. Can be relied upon to kick crucial goals at critical moments in games - like he did in the second term of last year’s Prelim Final to kick-start their remarkable comeback. Runner up in 2015 club B&F.
[caption id="attachment_10806" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
The classy James Morris booted seven goals in the Bloods' 2014 Div 2 premiership win.[/caption]
Luke Galle (Mount Waverley)
Key forwards don't often win best and fairest these days, but Luke Galle bucked the trend by taking home Mount Waverley's top gong last season. He booted 69 goals in 20 games and finishing runner up on the league table to CPL's Trevor March. Tall and a great overhead mark, Galle is difficult to beat in one-on-one contests. He is also a beautiful kick for goal and misses very few set shots.
[caption id="attachment_10800" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Luke Galle starred for the Moutnain Lions in 2015.[/caption]
Tyson King (Keysborough)
There are shades of Wayne Carey about the way King (aptly named) goes about it and, at his best, is the most influential player in Division 2. Underwent a knee reconstruction in the middle of last year, but by all accounts his recovery is on track and fingers crossed we will get see him back in the latter stages of 2016. I’m happy to take a punt on him as a bench option in my side because he is simply too good to leave out.
[caption id="attachment_10805" align="aligncenter" width="316"]
Tyson King will unfortunately sit out a large chunk of 2016 following a knee reconstruction last year.[/caption]
To recap the rest of the Warriors
Josh Jewell (Mordialloc)
Andy Ray (Clayton)
Daniel Vaughan (Cheltenham)
Will Gayfer (Keysborough)
Kieran Knox (St Pauls)
Jarrod Wilkin (Mount Waverley)
Andrew Frost (Dingley)
Mitch Walder (Murrumbeena)
Liam Wilson (St Pauls)
Scott Lawry (Bentleigh) CAPTAIN
Andy Howison (Oakleigh District)
Luke Bartholomew (Dingley)
Jordan Peryman (Chelsea Heights)
Geoff Humphreys (Keysborough)
Jarryd Allan (St Pauls)
Corrie Wilson (Doveton Eagles)
Brad Sutcliffe (Port Melbourne Colts)
Todd Bastion (Mordialloc)
Jake Chapman (Ashwood)
Matt Terech (East Malvern)
Stuart Cleeve (Dingley)
Adam Ballard (Caulfield)
What do you think of Will’s team? Has he nailed it? Is there someone you reckon deserved a guernsey? Reckon you could pick a better team? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.