2018 Flack Medal Preview

By Andrew Paloczi

Springvale Districts ended its brief stay in Division 3 with premiership glory, having topped the ladder at the end of the home and away season.

Still, there is one thing remaining to round out the drama for 2018.

The Flack medallist will be determined on Friday night at Sandown Park Function Centre, so let’s look at the favourites for the division’s best and fairest award.

Ashwood’s season ended in disappointment with a meek exit in the first week of the finals.

However, star Magpie Paddy Carroll is likely to finish his club’s year on a high come the end of Friday’s count.

In 17 regular season games, he missed mention in the Magpies’ best on just three occasions, being listed as their top performer six times.

As well as creating abundant opportunities for teammates, Carroll booted 20 goals.

His talent and application were recognised with selection in the SFNL senior representative side.

Carroll was the only Division 3 player in the SFNL team that took on and beat the North Central Football League.

He took out his club best and fairest, ahead of Jake Chapman and Brett Figas.

The fact Ashwood won two thirds of its home and away games should aid Carroll’s chances of featuring prominently in the umpires’ votes.

However, you can’t rule out a 2018 clean sweep for Springvale Districts with Demon Sam Raru in the running to grab the Flack medal.

The big-bodied, ball-winning midfielder missed three regular season games, but had a sufficiently impressive impact in his 15 matches to overcome that handicap.

He was named in the Demons’ best six times in what proved to be the division’s benchmark side.

However, Springvale Districts listed Raru as its number one performer just once, in the Demons’ Round 5 win over Black Rock.

His 25 home and away goals and midfield drive is sure to have him in the umpires’ thoughts.

Still, the suspicion is that competition from high-performing teammates will limit Raru’s ability to poll sufficient votes to take out the league best and fairest.

The Demons are yet to hold their club best and fairest.

Another in the reckoning to wear the Flack Medal is Nate Strom, Endeavour Hills’ skipper, who enjoyed a strong season in which he led his club to the grand final.

In 17 home and away matches, Strom featured in the Falcons’ best on seven occasions, being listed as their top performer three times.

He provided run for his side and set up opportunities for other Falcons, as well as booting 16 majors for the normal season.

Strom finished third in Endeavour Hills’ best and fairest tally, behind winner Nick Gay and runner up Daniel Batson.

Hampton Park’s finals campaign fell flat, with the Redbacks exiting in straight sets.

But they had an excellent first-up home and away season in SFNL company and Hampton Park players will poll strongly in the Flack Medal count.

Had midfield powerhouse Shannon Henwood played a complete season he would be firmly in the reckoning for the division’s highest individual honour.

However, he appeared in just 10 home and away games, having transferred to Hampton Park during the season.

It is a mark of Henwood’s high quality that he was listed in the Redbacks’ top four contributors in nine of those matches, including twice as best and four times second best.

Henwood also averaged a goal per match.

His teammate and fellow midfielder Michael Henry is another star who would have been in contention, but for the fact he missed a third of the regular season.

He was selected in his side’s best in five of his 12 home and away matches, leading the way on four of those occasions.

Henry did some damage up forward with 16 majors prior to the finals.

He took out the Redbacks’ club best and fairest, with Henwood the runner up.

Whilst there was no shortage of impressive performers in the division 3 regular season, Paddy Carroll starts the Flack Medal as the strong favourite.

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