With six rounds under our belts, lets dive into the top 20 Central Highlands Football League (CHFL) players of the season to date.
People will do these lists different ways based on different factors; opinion, stats, eye test etc.
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You'll never please everyone and I know I won't please everyone with my list.
The criteria is simple; must have played at least three games, the list is based on the 2021 season, what I have seen so far and team success.
It does not take into consideration previous accomplishments or reputation.
For example, stars like Derick Micallef (Buninyong), Daniel Wehrung, Myles and Adam Sewell (Newlyn), Todd Finco, Andrew Challis and Billy Driscoll (Springbank), Josh Cowan (Daylesford), James Kelly (Gordon), and Sam Willian (Skipton) are missing.
This isn't because they're not top 20 players, they probably are.
For some, injuries have hampered them and for others their form just hasn't been as good.
The one exception I made was for Newlyn's star key forward Marcus Darmody.
He has only played two games so far this season, but managed to kicked 11 goals and poll 10 player of the year votes.
The Courier's top 20 CHFL players of the seasonto date
20 - Gerard Clifford
- Five games, 3x in best, 18 player of the year votes
It's been a superb start to the 2021 season for Gerard Clifford, becoming one of Gordon's most important players. 18 coaches votes and three times named in the best, he's been a consistent contributor for the Eagles.
19 - Dean O'Brien
- Six games, six goals, 5x in best, 17 player of the year votes
Despite Carngham-Linton's 0-6 record, Dean O'Brien has been a shining light for the Saints. Consistently one of their better players and consistently receiving votes from opposition coaches. A player of the future in the CHFL.
18 - Andrew Pitson
- Three games, 10 goals
Skipton's co-coach missed three games with a thumb injury but returned in dominant fashion, kicking 10 goals in two games to lift the Emus' record to 3-3.
17 - Brenton Powell
- Five games, four goals, 4x in best, 18 player of the year votes
One of the regular top players in the CHFL. Powell has regularly featured in the best players for Learmonth and has hit the scoreboard as well. Will be an important cog in the Lakies side as they try to stay in the top eight going forward.
16 - Jarrod Rodgers
- Five games, 3x in best, 19 player of the year votes
Have had the pleasure of watching Rodgers on multiple occasions this season and he's delivered each time. Consistently one of Buninyong's best and regularly features in the coaches votes.
15 - Christopher Peart
- Six games, 23 player of the year votes
Daylesford's around the mark so far this season and Christopher Peart has been a key reason why. Has played all six games for the Dogs and averages nearly four coaches votes a week.
14 - Matthew Wrigley
- Four games, 4x in best, 21 player of the year votes
Clunes has started the season 4-1 and Matthew Wrigley has been a key reason why. Featured in the best players in each game that he's played and received plenty of love in the coaches votes.
13 - Adam Toohey
- Five games, 15 goals, 12 player of the year votes
The co-coach of the top of the table Eagles averaging three goals a game. Leads the group well on field and has the forward line set up beautifully.
12 - Marcus Darmody
- Two games, 11 goals, 10 player of the year votes
It was unfortunate to see Darmody go down in round two, especially considering he was fresh off a 10 goal game against Springbank and the perfect 10 coaches votes. Would have loved to watch his battle with Sam Dunstan for the league goal kicking crown. Will be an important inclusion for Newlyn whenever he returns.
11 - Andy McKay
- Six games, eight goals, 2x in best, 16 player of the year votes
Hepburn superstar Andy McKay has delivered another stellar start to a season, hitting the scoreboard and polling strongly in the coaches votes. The Burra have dominated in every game bar one and sit second on the ladder.
10 - Matthew Aikman
- Six games, 4x in best, 24 player of the year votes (equal fifth)
Aikman crossed from North Ballarat in the pre-season and hasn't looked back, becoming one of Rokewood-Corindhap's best players in season 2021. Has helped the Hoppers to third on the ladder and five wins, one away from equaling their 2019 total.
9 - Lincoln Barnes
- Six games, four goals, 4x in best, 22 player of the year votes
Barnes has been Waubra's best player, helping the Roos to fifth on the ladder and four wins. Hits the scoreboard from the midfield and is a workhorse in the middle of the ground alongside stalwarts like Tom Nash, Geordie Lukich and Will Green.
8 - Jacob Garvey
- Six games, 4x in best, 18 player of the year votes
Beaufort have had an up and down start to its season but Jacob Garvey has been superb. Was superb against Springbank in particular, setting the tone for the Crows by providing first use and picking up heaps of the ball himself.
7 - Bradley McKay
- Six games, 13 goals, 3x in best, 22 player of the year votes
Sitting second on the ladder, Hepburn obviously have a plethora of star players and Bradley McKay is just one of those. Has played every game and hit the scoreboard strongly balancing his time in the midfield and forward. 22 coaches votes highlights his dominance to start the season.
6 - Patrick Taranto
- Six games, 4x in best, 33 player of the year votes (first)
The current leader in the player of the award, Patrick Taranto has had a superb start to the season. He has polled votes in every game and featured in Creswick's best players four times.
5 - Will Henderson
- Six games, 5x in best, 27 player of the year votes (third)
Young gun Will Henderson has enjoyed a consistent start to the season helping Dunnstown to a 4-2 record. Has polled in four out of six games in the player of the year award, receiving nine votes twice. Another player of the future in the CHFL.
4 - Mitch Gilbert
- Six games, 3x in best, 24 player of the year votes (equal fifth)
Gilbert has started his Skipton career with a bang, quickly becoming one of the best players in the competition. Was clearly best on ground against Creswick, racking up plenty of the ball, using it well and hitting the scoreboard. If he's up and going, the Emus are a dangerous finals side.
3 - James Pratt
- Five games, 12 goals, 3x in best, 29 player of the year votes (second)
Learmonth sits inside the top eight and James Pratt is a key reason why. Has played every game and hit the scoreboard strongly, receiving plenty of player of the year votes from both sets of coaches week in, week out.
2 - Sam Dunstan
- Six games, 46 goals, 3x in best, 19 player of the year votes
If you can manage to kick 20 goals in a game, you're going to feature pretty high on this list. That's exactly what Sam Dunstan did, racing out to a strong lead in the league goal kicking. If he can continue to play well, Hepburn will take some beating.
1 - Ethan Crackel
- Five games, five goals, 3x in best, 26 player of the year votes (fourth)
The top midfielder in the top ranked side in the competition. Crackel averages a goal a game from the midfield and has featured prominantly in the best players and coaches votes. Will play an important role in Gordon's run at the premiership.
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