It’s a question as old as time; if you’re starting a football club, would you take Mick Mattingly or Brandyn Grenfell?
Midfield magician or tremendous tall forward, there really is no concrete answer — until now.
In this week’s second part of a continuing Goulburn Valley League investigation, Outside The Box will examine which acquisition was the best piece of recruiting done last off-season.
Recruiting has been a major part of Tatura’s expected rise to finals for the first time since 2014, with Grenfell, Billy Cooper and Curt Ryan among the important inclusions.
Alternatively, Kyabram was fine staying out of the recruiting battle and keen to give more of its depth players a chance, before Mattingly landed on its doorstep.
But other sides — Echuca, Euroa, Mooroopna and Seymour particularly — recruited hard, so just who are the top five recruits this season?
1. Brandyn Grenfell (Tatura)
Big Brandyn Grenfell is the standout recruit this season, for being an unmitigated monster when on his game.
He has delivered his new club 52 goals in 16 games, but has also had a big presence in the ruck.
There isn’t a player in the competition defenders fear more than Grenfell when under a high ball — it is a sure bet he is going to use his considerable strength and sticky mitts to reel in the pill.
The Bulldogs would not have beaten Euroa without his seven-goal haul nor drawn with Mansfield in their last outing without his four — the forward has the ability to turn games on their heads.
Grenfell has committed to the Kennel for next year and as the next generation of Bulldog emerges, they have the perfect bloke either feeding the ball down their throats in the midfield or giving them an attractive target to aim at inside forward 50.
2. Mick Mattingly (Kyabram)
Mattingly coming to Kyabram from Coburg was like adding nitrous oxide to a Formula One car — it was already fast enough to do some serious damage, and now it’s just absurd.
A VFL-level talent added to a team that had won 42 straight games was not what the rest of the GVL was hoping to see happen — and almost a little unnecessary.
At the end of the day, with or without ‘‘Slick Mick’’, the Bombers would be undefeated and cruising to a third straight flag.
He is a running machine with brilliant ball-using ability, has hit the scoreboard with 16 goals in 16 games while being named Kyabram’s best three times.
An interesting thought is how different the Bombers and the Bulldogs would be if Mattingly had opted to play with Tatura this season, after being heavily courted by the rival club.
3. Andrew Walker (Echuca)
Bringing 200 games of AFL experience back to where your footballing journey started is what junior clubs dream of, and Echuca’s new coach has been strong this season.
As the Murray Bombers have found their best form, so has Walker, in their best the last six games with the last three best-on-ground displays.
He is the definition of a utility, able to impact the play wherever he wants to.
Only five goals in 15 games highlights he is looking to lead his side from the back, but he will look to hit the scoreboard in finals.
4. Jayden Gleeson (Euroa)
With Euroa’s contingent of Gleesons giving Tatura’s Ryans a run for their money in terms of sheer numbers, it is easy to forget which one is which — but make no mistake, Jayden is the pick of the bunch.
Gleeson joined Euroa from Labrador in Queensland, but is no stranger to winning games of football in the area being a former Nagambie premiership player.
His work in Euroa’s early hot streak was strong, starting the Magpies on their way with brilliant work in the middle.
As the Magpies’ hopes of playing finals have faded, Gleeson’s form has not, doing everything he can to drag the side through to the post-season.
5. Harley Taylor-Lloyd (Seymour)
Since joining from Nagambie, HTL has proven he knows where the big sticks are with 29 goals in nine games for the Lions.
Playing deep forward, Taylor-Lloyd has strength to burn and he uses it to monster opposition and take marks.
He finds himself in the rare position of leading the seniors and reserves goalkicking races at Seymour, and with little else to play for this season, surely the Lions’ main focus in the closing weeks is to ensure he claims both crowns.