It’s been many a year since we saw such a competitive Rhyce Shaw Medal as in 2015. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some elite performances before. Ballantine’s epic stinkfest in 2013 comes to mind and certainly last year Lewis Jetta and Kurt Tippett were in a tight contest for mediocrity.
But this year, the West Coast Eagles went all out. As many as 10 Eagles could have been worthy winners. Mssrs Wellingham, Hurn, Yeo and Shuey collected only 19 possessions votes between them. Any other year, one of them could have walked away with it. But the spirit of competitive failure was so high that they simply had no chance against some of the elite bone-headed performances of their peers.
Ultimately in a competitive year, it wasn’t about the awful clangers.
**Jack Darling issues a huge sigh of relief**
It was about being excellent and absent.
Your 2015 Rhyce Shaw Medallist is JOSH KENNEDY.
Kennedy had kicked a goal in every game this year on his way to a dominant Coleman Medal performance. But in the Grand Final, he was totally blanketed by noted Grand Final specialist James Frawley, of Melbourne fame.
BUT WAIT, you say, HE’S A KEY FORWARD AND SO DELIVERY BLAH BLAH BLAH.
Except that in the preliminary final, when the same thing happened against North’s Scott Thompson, Kennedy ran upfield, caused havoc and basically broke the game open.
I would argue the only people who didn’t vote for Kennedy are the ones that didn’t realise he was on the field.
Forwards are big targets for Rhyce Shaw voters, especially forwards with high expectations. Rather than go too deep into this year’s field, let’s just acknowledge some of the key low performers who struggled for votes in a crowded field.
But before we do, three shoutouts:
Andrew Gaff – 34 touches and toiled all day.
Jeremy McGovern – Playing in the Weagles defense was no fun on Saturday, but McGovern toiled valiantly, played well and went forward to kick two goals. Contained Roughead to just a single goal.
And of course, a HUGE shoutout to Cyril Rioli.
Our first ever Rhyce Shaw-Norm Smith double winner! A history maker. Well done Cyril.
Now for the less encouraging shoutouts:
Callum Sinclair – He’s one of those 15 players for the Eagles that you have no idea about. Don’t even worry. He had an awful game. He’s quite tall. There. Now you know.
Luke Shuey – Had some great moments, but cost his team two certain goals, including one cocky dribbling miss that will probably haunt him for a while.
Shannon Hurn – 14 touches, no tackles, Cyril Rioli’s direct opponent, captain of the losing side. Yet could still only get 4 votes. What a field, I tell ya.
Elliot Yeo – The Roar gave him 1/10 and may have been generous. Great goal on the half-time siren was about the only time he sniffed leather.
Sharrod Wellingham – That punchable face, that awful game, that Collingwood background…and STILL only managed 6 votes.
Mark LeCras – Continues his reputation of only kicking goals when the game doesn’t matter. Or in Saturday’s case, behinds, which are like the silver medal of goals, if the medal was made out of packing foam instead of silver and if instead of winning it, you get packed in the packing foam and sent far, far, away.
So, the top 4.
Matt Priddis (17 votes)
Almost a back-to-back Brownlow Medal winner, Priddis…wait a second, let me read that last sentence again. Good grief. Wow. Let’s all just take a minute to thank Nat Fyfe for being Nat Fyfe.
Priddis Woewodined the hell out of this grand final. He had 25 touches, most of them late (when the game was over) and was totally shut down by the West Coast midfield. He played hard, but ineffectively, tackled hard, but ineffectively and ultimately the voters expect more from an almost 2-time Brownlow Medallist.
Again though…that above sentence feels wrong. Like a happy cat owner.
Probably the saddest part of Priddis’ day was losing his sponsorship with Soul Glo. A tough day for the Priddis family.
Jack Darling (18 votes)
Marked the ball with his chin, gave away a 50 metre penalty and REPEATEDLY gave the Eagles nothing out of some key pack marks. Darling looked like a man who had bet hard on the Hawks and then felt bad about it, but not bad enough to lose his bet. Brian Lake, a man approximately 45 years his senior, held him well.
Three effective touches.
Zero happy memories.
Had one – ONE – effective disposal.
I mean…I’m not sure what other reasons to give you. To his credit, he did win the ruck contest, but his taps kept going to Priddis and Shuey and we know how that went. Also, Hawthorn’s ruck corps is mostly made of people who won an AFL Fanshake, so beating them is less impressive than, say, knocking off Goldstein last week.
On a personal note, I’m glad he didn’t win. He’s had a rough year with his mother passing and I think we all want the best for a guy of the calibre and potential of Naitanui.
So just play better next time, okay? Okay.
When he’s sad, Josh Kennedy just looks like a bear who’s had his fur rubbed the wrong way. Poor little scamp.
But there’s nothing much encouraging to say about the Coleman Medallist who went MIA in the biggest game of his life. Plenty of time to come back next year, but Grand Finals can be surprisingly elusive for players and teams, unless you’re Hawthorn, ugh.
The Herald-Sun had him 4th last (ahead of NicNat, Darling and Sinclair), but they’re wrong. The Eagles biggest impact player had THREE touches to 3/4 time. One good sign – he happily gave an easy goal to LeCras instead of taking it himself (which the opportunistic LeCras was VERY happy to take), so he hasn’t got a desperate need for personal glory.
But you know…it might have been nice to see some need for personal glory. Or glory at all. Or to touch the football during a football match for which he is paid to play football.
One of those.
Til next year.