Sport

Outside The Box: Morrison Medal preview

By Alex Mitchell

The Goulburn Valley League's night of nights is on Monday and Outside The Box has readers covered today with an in-depth Morrison Medal preview.

League medals can feel like a lottery — look no further than Jason Cole getting rolled in last year's count — but OTB has done what it can to line up the form, with an emphasis on what players have done in their side's wins.

Getting inside the mind of an umpire is a tough gig; some love midfielders racking up the ball regardless of the score, many love big hulking ruckmen flying through the air in front of them, and some even like forwards who cap their side's work up the ground by hitting the scoreboard.

OTB foresees a tight race this season and has come up with a number-one contender at every club.

BENALLA

Main hope: Will Martiniello

Fresh from the Essendon District Football League's Reynolds Medal, Martiniello's brilliantly consistent year has him in the frame for the Morrison. As Benalla's midfield train conductor, he will pick up sneaky votes here and there while not even at his best, while strong back-season form when the Saints fought to keep their season alive will attract some maximums. OTB has him as a guaranteed vote-getter in five games.

Roughies: Brody Webster springs to mind, his aerial antics surely catching the eyes of umpires. He slotted six goals in a win against Rochester, five in a win against Shepparton, six in a win against Mooroopna and five in one against the Swans — all games he has been close to the most influential player on the park.

ECHUCA

Main hope: Andrew Walker

The Murray Bombers coach is as silky-smooth as it gets which equals votes, but his influence in his side's fantastic season will not go unnoticed. He only kicked five goals for the year, but every time he kicked one he was high among the best — and his side won all those games. If Walker turns ones and twos into threes he will be in the mix, with OTB finding five games he is guaranteed to poll in.

Roughies: Angus Byrne could easily pick up nine votes in three games for his stretch between rounds six and eight, where 11 goals and three contested marking clinics shone. Byrne suffers from being a key forward — they don't seem to poll well in any footy league — but his style of play is more eye-catching than most. OTB has five guaranteed vote games for Byrne, but expect some of these to be ones more so than threes. Cam Valentine and Peter Faulks have 11 and 10 appearances in the Echuca best respectively, so might find some votes.

EUROA

Main hope: Adam Giobbi

When Giobbi swung forward from his centre half-back role, Euroa's stocks quickly rose and that will not go unnoticed. Twelve goals in three weeks between round six and eight when the Magpies won a couple of games will bring him votes, while he could easily poll in round two against Rochester when playing in defence. Unfortunately, his side's lack of success and decline in form late in the season will have him a minor contender at best.

Roughies: Heir to the Lindsay Park throne JD Hayes did not meet his lofty standards, but remains one of the league's best players and will poll here and there. Jett Trotter is certainly one for the Morrison black book, although the dynamite prospect kicked four or more goals six times and the Magpies lost five of those games.

KYABRAM

Main hope: Mick Mattingly

Mattingly's 2018 was elite, but somehow he has taken his game to entirely new levels this season. Using a club best as a formguide is potentially foolhardy, but Mattingly was Kyabram's best seven times this season — it goes without saying his side won all those games, and he kicked a goal in each of those games. The only thing stopping The Slick One being Black Caviar odds was his bizarre polling in last year's Morrison; Mattingly picked up just four votes in last year's count despite being expected to be top five.

Roughies: Kyle Mueller kicked six or more goals on seven occasions, and the league's leading goal-kicker is a genuine chance this season. They do not call him ''The Wiz'' for nothing, and Mueller's spectacular season is sure to net votes. Pat Wearden also had an exceptional year, but the Bombers' spread of elites will start pinching votes off each other.

MANSFIELD

Main hope: Andrew Browne

Ruckmen poll well in the bush and the big Browne Dog certainly made an impact at his new club. He picked up his club's best-and-fairest and had some big performances, particularly when the Eagles were charging. Just six wins will hurt the Eagle's chances, however.

Roughies: Patty Marks and Brett Mahoney are absolutely creamy players and are sure to attract the umpires' attention.

MOOROOPNA

Main hope: Hudson Thomas

The Cats won four games and Thomas kicked three, four, two and seven goals in those games — when the side won, you knew Thomas would be up and about. Also kicked four in a one-point loss to Seymour, so Thomas is an outside chance to hit the 10-vote mark.

Roughies: Michael Coad was named the Cats' best in two of the four wins, so is a chance to gather a few votes.

ROCHESTER

Main hope: Liam Bartels

Heading to the Moon from South Bendigo, Bartels kicked 38 goals in a campaign that aged well. He should pick up three votes against the Swans (six goals) and United (four goals) to boost his tally, but also kicked four goals in successive wins against Shepparton and Mooroopna in handy contributions.

Roughies: Nathan Marrone will pick up votes in at least four games and if these turn out as maximums he could finish top 10. Mitch Bright also had a more than handy year and will poll a few times.

SEYMOUR

Main hope: Jason Cole

Many learnt the hard way last season that clubs and umpires see the game very differently after Cole's remarkable run of being at the top of Seymour's best still had him miss out on the medal. This year, Cole has been just as consistent in racking up the ball and his eye-catching line-breaking will be a vote magnet. OTB finds five guaranteed vote games with a plethora more where he could easily sneak another. Might not have quite hit last year's lofty standards, but remains a chance.

Roughies: Zac Keogh had a few ripping games in Seymour wins, and, much like Cole, attacks the footy in an eye-catching fashion. Kier Bol also impressed throughout the year.

SHEPPARTON

Main hope: Anthony Andronaco

Stepped into the Luke Smith role beautifully to become one of his side's most influential talents. There are a handful of games where Andronaco has starred in Shepparton wins, and being a mid/forward combo will win votes via hitting the scoreboard. Kicked three or more goals seven times and was in the top two of the Bears' best five times. A year ago OTB was laughed at for tipping Andronaco as a roughie for the Morrison — well who is laughing now? A genuine chance.

Roughies: Like Andronaco, Joel Brett kicks snags when the Bears are up and running, kicking four or more goals in five wins. Had a career best year with 40 goals and his dynamic play wins votes.

SHEPPARTON SWANS

Main hope: Tom Preece

Dashing half-back flanker/midfielder Preece is an absolutely vital piece of the Swans' emerging machine and his high level of play is required to keep the side in games. In games they were competitive (wins, or losses by less than 15 points) Preece was in his side's best five of seven times and best-on-ground twice.

Roughies: In the same mould as Preece is Quade Johnstone, the midfield bull always involved when the Swans are in the mix. Ruck Mitch Bell had a great year and is right under the nose of the umpire.

SHEPPARTON UNITED

Main hope: Matt Di Bella

Di Bella had a quality season along with ruck Shane Neaves, but it is tough to see either figuring too highly among the leaderboard. Di Bella was high among the best in two United wins, always working hard to keep the side firing.

Roughies: Neaves will find some votes in wins and always battles brilliantly in the ruck even when the side is having a tough day. Jack Norman kicked 2.4 goals a game in United wins if the umpires are feeling goal-kicking this year.

TATURA

Main hope: Nick Fothergill

Having already won OTB Recruit of the Year, ''Foz'' might add another piece of silverware to his cabinet on Monday night. Thirty-five goals for the year says a lot about his ability to impact games, but his work in the trenches certainly stands out. He should poll three votes guaranteed against United in round two and Mooroopna in round five, with another seven games at least where votes are a good chance. He kicked multiple goals in each of those games which will sway umpires.

Roughies: Sean Martin stormed home with a brilliant back-half of the season and will poll solidly. 

POTENTIAL ODDS (via OTBet)

Mick Mattingly $2.50, Nick Fothergill $3.50, Kyle Mueller $7, Andrew Walker, Jason Cole $9, Pat Wearden $11, Will Martiniello, Angus Byrne, Anthony Andronaco $15, Cam Valentine, Zac Keogh $17. Others $21+

Alex Mitchell (OTB regional manager)

1. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

2. Mick Mattingly (Ky)

3. Anthony Andronaco (Shepp)

Roughie: Tom Panuccio (Eur)

Tyler Maher (OTB assistant to the regional manager)

1. Pat Wearden (Ky)

2. Zac Keogh (Sey)

3. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

Roughie: Sam Willoughby (Ech)

Aydin Payne (Payney's Punt)

1. Mick Mattingly (Ky)

2. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

3. Andrew Walker (Ech)

Roughie: Brad Whitford

Ashleigh Williamson (News Punters Club secretary)

1. Mick Mattingly (Ky)

2. Will Martiniello (Ben)

3. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

Roughie: Peter Faulks (Ech)

Ronald J. Anderson (News headline master)

1. Kyle Mueller (Ky)

2. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

3. Andrew Walker (Ech)

Roughie: Anthony Andronaco (Shepp)

Andrew Johnston (Riverine Herald reporter)

1. Mick Mattingly (Ky)

2. Nick Fothergill (Tat)

3. Andrew Walker (Ech)

Roughie: Cam Valentine (Ech)

Roughie: 

John ''JR'' Ryan (Footy Show "expert")

1. Mick Mattingly (Ky)

2. Andrew Walker (Ech)

3. Pat Wearden (Ky)

Roughie: Mitch Brett (Shepp)