APFL top 50 of the decade

50: Brent Harris – Mallala
Very handy tall forward who formed a solid partnership with Angus Bruggemann and Ben Parish at times during the middle and later parts of the decade. Aggressively attacked the ball and packs and proved pretty agile for his size. Probably could have kicked a lot more goals if he finished truly.

49: Jamie Humphrys – Two Wells
Still relatively young, Humphrys has emerged as one of the Roosters’ most important players, largely off a wing but thrown into the midfield at times. Enjoyed a stellar 2018 finals series including a best on ground performance in the grand final. Attacks the ball hard despite his smaller frame and has plenty of skill and smarts to use it as well.

48: Ben Parish – Mallala
Injury riddled utility who featured all over the park for the Magpies at varying times. Took on key defensive posts or pushed into attack depending on the opponent. Even had a stint on the wing, such was his versatility, but had a tough run with injury in his time. Huge in the 2016 grand final, chopping off Virginia’s full forward.

47: Nick Fergusson – Balaklava
Only played two seasons but attracted plenty of acclaim in that time, including a swag of Producer Medal votes in 2019. The dynamic midfielder hailed from South Adelaide and brings with him serious onfield leadership credentials and elite power and acceleration at ground level.

46: Christian Rimmer (dec) – Mallala
Epitomised the complete midfielder. Wonderful leader and onfield example to follow. Arrived from Salisbury and left quite an impression on all at the club. Gut runner, great ball user and could do the work both inside and out. Also represented the APFL on several occasions.

45: Nathan Studham – HWE
Showed potential as a junior, highlighted by his efforts in the losing B grade grand final as a senior colt in 2016. Slick forward with a deadly left foot and superb overhead marking ability for his size. Four goals in the low-scoring 2019 grand final were vital in his side’s success.

44: Les Pearson – Balaklava
Did not rig the votes. But it’s an honour.

43: Dylan Wise – Two Wells
Wise has been a regular across half back for the Roosters but is also a multiple APFL representative and zone player. He was unlucky to miss the 2012 premiership but played a large role in the 2017 and 2018 flags. Early in his career, he started on a forward flank or wing before locking in a position across half back. Known for his penetrating accuracy by foot when rebounding from defence.

42: Khan Leighton – Two Wells
An enigmatic forward and midfielder who had freakish evasive skills and an unusual kicking style, which he made work somehow. He was arguably at his best back in 2012 before going missing for a few years with work but returned to play a vital role as a small defender in the 2018 premiership. Not the most consistent player but when he is on, he’s hard to stop.

41: Kirk Heberle – Hamley Bridge
Spent the best part of three seasons at the Bombers, playing largely as a stay at home key forward with reasonable mobility for his size. Took over as coach in 2014 while remaining on the park, throwing himself into the ruck at times. Led a star-studded Hamley Bridge line-up to the premiership, booting 70 goals for the season.

40: Tyrell Hocking – Two Wells
Arrived at Two Wells late in the preseason of 2018 but slotted comfortably into a midfield role. His main strengths are both agility and polish with the ball, and when he gets off the leash, he often hurts sides in bursts throughout games. Collected the Plains Producer Medal in 2019 and is still relatively young in his career.

39: Brian Montgomery – Mallala
A recurrent knee injury stole a fair chunk of time out of recent seasons but prior to that, formed a frustratingly good portion of a Mallala forward line with multiple avenues for goal. Smart when on the lead and absolutely lethal from the set shot, Montgomery led the goal kicking with 78 goals in the 2015 premiership year.

38: Josh Appleby – HWE
Endured a baptism of fire as an emerging senior player, stepping straight into the midfield during a horror wooden spoon season in 2014. Still, he stuck with his home club during those trying times and quickly developed into his club’s danger man at stoppages, weaving out of traffic with relative ease to attract a defensive midfielder most weeks.

37: Jason McPharlin – Balaklava
Despite playing regular A grade footy throughout the decade, it wasn’t until 2015 where he found his niche deep in attack for the Peckers. McPharlin led the club’s goal kicking for three consecutive years in 2015 to 2017, booted 98 goals in 2018 and another 51 majors in 2019 but finished second on both occasions. Brilliant set show, super hands, pound for pound a difficult match up.

36: Daniel Stanley – Virginia
Arrived at Virginia from Gawler Central and a stint with the Adelaide Crows’ SANFL team. Was his side’s premier midfielder but lacked support at times. Still found plenty of the footy and hit the scoreboard well considering the difficult patch the club was going through at the time. Not sure we saw the best of him in the APFL.

35: Jake Birchmore – Mallala
Just on consistency alone, he should be a lot higher up the count than 35th but no one really rates defenders. Brilliant record internally at Mallala and one of the most decorated players in the league when it comes to association and zone representation. Strong overhead and formed a particularly handy duo with Rob Montgomery in Mallala’s defence.

34: Dean Storic – Balaklava
Arrived at Balaklava in 2013 and played five seasons in the Peckers’ midfield. A partially torn achilles tendon interrupted his time at the club but still managed two best and fairests in that time. Attacked the ball fiercely and provided strength and physicality around the contested ball. Raking left boot and excellent overhead too.

33: Shane Moss – Balaklava
The most dominant forward in the latter stages of the decade, managing back to back seasons of 100+ goals. Brilliant contested mark and smart at ground level with good goal sense. Just the two seasons but still in his mid to late 20s and has more to offer from a solid foundation to date.

32: Anthony Pontt – Two Wells
Served the club brilliantly for the best part of a decade, largely in defence at either full back or centre half back. Honest as the day is long and got the best out of himself most weeks. Likes to get on the end of some rebound passages out of defence and could be considered in the top 3 key defenders of the era.

31: Ben Catford – Balaklava
An excitement machine who shone to prominence earlier in the decade, including his crucial role in the midfield in Balaklava’s 2011 premiership. Silky skills both by hand and foot and the ability to do the freakish meant he was admired by both locals and opposition clubs.

30: Craig Taylor – Hamley Bridge

Came across with big wraps in 2012 but didn’t have his best season until he got his body right in 2013, going on to win the Plains Producer Medal in a tie with Heath Pym of United. Incredibly tough to tackle and equally hard at the contest, highlighted by the huge collision wearing the APFL colours at the 2013 Landmark Cup.

29: Glenn Dawson – Balaklava
Picked up by Port Power as a 2010 rookie, Dawson’s pace and athleticism caught the eye of AFL scouts. He didn’t play a game and returned to Balaklava in 2011, winning the Best On Ground trophy in the grand final. Took a huge hanger most weeks and could kick the ball a mile. Only Virginia’s Adrian Mark really matched motors with him.

28: Josh Seal – Mallala
The football purists’ midfielder. Seal did everything without a lot of the fanfare of the stars around him, such as Joel Montgomerie or Nigel Osborn, but had an equally hard work rate and often found himself getting off the chain with the attention elsewhere, probably at the cost of opposition clubs. Super consistent.

27: Simon Feast – Two Wells
Those with relatively long memories would recall just how well this bloke played at 40+ years. His tap work was sensational and from the stoppages, he’d plonk himself behind the ball and clunk mark after mark as opposition sides worked to clear the ball from defence. Gave the young lads around him a good education too.

26: Will Farrelly (Hennessy ) Mallala
Held down Mallala’s number one ruck position for a bulk of the decade after returning from a stint with Woodville-West Torrens at under age level. Not overly tall for a ruckman but was more than competitive at stoppages and pulled down mark after mark patrolling a kick behind play. Also reasonably mobile for a guy his size. Best on Ground in Mallala’s 2016 flag.

25: Matthew Young – Virginia
Led the Rams for a huge slice of the decade, having established himself as a star of the competition by winning the Plains Producer Medal in 2008. Was a regular part of the Virginia on ball brigade, with his size and strength an asset, plus reasonable endurance given his larger frame. Clean by hand and foot, he also excelled when rotating forward before finishing his time with the Rams across the half back line, again very effective with his delivery from defence.

24: Travis Beard – United
Rangy type who arrived from Lock unheralded but quickly caught the eye with his dashing play off a wing. Added size to his wiry frame in recent years to become a terrific contested mark and has been used as a Mr Fixit a bit by the Tigers given his ability to play both tall, short or in key positions at either end of the ground. Consistent contributor and a constant danger for opposition sides.

23: Matt Higgs – HWE
Another in the Mr Fixit category, Higgs is primarily a problem-sized midfielder with brilliant evasiveness and strength, quite often firing out the crucial handball at clearances to the fleet-footed youngsters around him. Has featured in the ruck at certain stages of matches, while also providing an option as a key forward or defender depending on the game situation. Extremely consistent contributor for the club over the journey.

22: Adrian Mark – Virginia
Mark was rightfully voted in as one of the top three defenders of the decade in this process. For about eight years, he was the toughest match up for opposition key forwards. His height and speed were crucial to his success, closing down leading forwards but also climbing over packs with a well-timed fist. It was always a welcome sight for opposition clubs when he wasn’t named on the team sheet.

21: Brad Robertson – Virginia
Robertson played a huge role in delivering his club a drought-breaking flag in 2015, instrumental in the midfield with his dash from the centre circle. He was clearly best on ground in the premiership win, playing his customary game of getting the ball in dangerous spots before delivering with deft accuracy with his lethal left boot. Form dropped off the following season but his best was brilliant to watch.

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