Today we continue Brett’s Top 40 with players ranked 11 to 20…
20. Andrew Frost (Dingley)
Unlucky not to have featured in last year's edition of this list, the Dingley key position player has forced his way in via his outstanding form at both ends of the ground. He reads the play well both in the air and on the ground and can chop off countless opposition attacks, then get the ball moving in the Dingoes direction. If Dingley are to reach the final day of the 2014 season, no doubt Frost will have been a big reason why.
19. Luke Crozier (Bentleigh)
Crozier joins Bentleigh from Old Carey in the VAFA where he was runner up in the 2011 best and fairest before heading to Frankston in the VFL. At 198cm, he has the height of a ruckman, but does his best work in defence, as displayed in the Interleague game last month, before a hamstring injury ended his afternoon. For the Demons to establish themselves in the top division, they will look to the likes of Crozier, Scott Lawry and Sam McGarry to lead the way.
18. David Velardo (Highett)
Boom. That’s the sound of the ball leaving the left boot of former Oakleigh District, and now Highett half forward David Velardo. Blessed with one of the best shoes in local football, Velardo booted 60 goals last year for the Oaks and was named in their best in 13 of his 17 matches after making the move from Devon Meadows, and prior to that, Noble Park. Whether it be across half forward, or pushing up into midfield, Highett will be thrilled to have added such a quality mover to their ranks.
17. Paul Fermanis (Oakleigh District)
The highest ranked player from outside the top division, Fermanis remains the pre-eminent player in Division Two. A powerful athlete who is just as dangerous bullocking his way through midfield as he is resting one-out in the Districts goalsquare – he’s kicked 74 goals in 38 matches over the past two seasons. There have been brief stints at Port Melbourne, Noble Park and Sandringham VFL, but as always, ‘Pauly’ is the key to the Oaks premiership hopes.
16. Peter Mercoulia (St Pauls)
‘Mercs’ might have lost a step over the years, but he is still a Rolls Royce in the Doggies midfield. A proven ball winner at this level and beyond, his gut running and ability to step through traffic see him remain one of the competition’s best. A duel reserves’ best-and-fairest with Casey in the VFL, not only has Mercoulia been a star for the Doggies over the years, but he’s been just as handy luring former teammates – such as ex-Scorpions skipper Nigel Carmody, to join him at the kennel.
15. Hamish Dahl (East Brighton)
There aren’t too many 200cm brutes floating around in the Southern league ranks, so the new East Brighton big man is sure to catch the eye during 2014. Having managed nine senior VFL matches with Coburg in 2010-11 but dominating at reserve level, Dahl joins the Vampires after a year at Doutta Stars alongside fellow Vampire recruit, Damien Rayson. Originally from Kangaroo Flat, Dahl is now a duel Interleague representative, having starred for the Bendigo league in the VCFL championships in 2006 and being a member of the SFL team last month.
14. Andrew Jansen (East Brighton)
Quality 194cm running wingmen/half backs don’t exactly grow on trees at local level, but that is exactly what ‘Sparkles’ is. The former Box Hill Hawk was a late starter to footy having played soccer as a junior but quickly rose through the ranks. He didn’t feature at all in 2013 at senior level due to a chronic back injury, but he has recently been given the all clear to return and is like a new recruit for the Vampires in 2014…like they need another!
13. Darren Walsh (Chelsea Heights)
The former Essendon-listed player is the epitome of versatile – he can play anywhere on the ground outside of the ruck, and given a chance, he’d probably go OK there too! A smooth mover with a laconic, laid back attitude, the former Dingley junior has been one of the premier players in the competition for some time. With Jayden Attard, Brad Gilder, Ash Roberts, Travis Johnstone, Phil Smith, Steve Murphy, Rhett Moor and Chris Mouritz all having departed Beazley Reserve over summer, he will be relied on more than ever to help teach his young teammates.
12. Pat Nicholls (Cheltenham)
The older brother of Gold Coast Suns ruckman Tom, Nicholls has forged a career in his own right at VFL level over the past few seasons after featuring in St Bedes-Mentone’s 2008 premiership side as an 18-year-old. The new Cheltenham forward has played eight VFL senior matches for the partially AFL-aligned North Ballarat last season, kicking nine goals – including a bag of four against Sandringham. Alongside Chris Graham, Matt Andrews and fellow new recruits Brett Collins and George Rowlands, Nicholls helps form one of the more potent attacks going around.
11. Michael Stinear (St Kilda City)
One of the most decorated players in the SFL, the St Kilda City ball winner is still at the top of his game. His list of accolades is long – Dandenong Stingrays best and fairest, under 18 Vic Metro team member, Carlton rookie, 2004 Grogan Medallist in the Queensland state league, Mt Gravatt duel best and fairest, Mt Gravatt captain, St Kilda City premiership player and coach. A smooth mover in midfield and across half back, he will be a vital component if the Saints are to go deeper into September this year.