The moment has finally arrived.
For weeks now speculation has been rife about just which Murray Football League gun will be crowned the best in the competition.
The team at Musings HQ has agonised over the final make-up of the Top 10 players in the league, but is happy with where the stars have aligned.
We cannot forget though where we have come from to get here today, so firstly let’s recap the first 40 names which have already been inked into the inaugural MFL Top 50.
The Story So Far
50-11: Nathan Terlich (Rumbalara), Kian Wise (Rumbalara), John Anstee (Deniliquin), Ash Miller (Rumbalara), Beau McKeown (Numurkah), Jason Limbrick (Nathalia), Harley Cobbledick (Nathalia), Beau Clarke (Mulwala), Tom Campbell (Moama), Cam Robertson (Finley), Paul Kirby (Echuca United), Farran Priest (Echuca United), Sam Ferguson (Congupna), Sam Gemmill (Cobram), Matt Demaio (Barooga), Mitch Jones (Numurkah), Corey Hickford (Katandra), Adam Decicco (Cobram), Ross Ansaldi (Mulwala), Logan Power (Moama), Bodhi Butts (Tungamah), Matt Rendina (Shepparton East), Tom Nihill (Nathalia), Lachie Small (Finley), Jackson Gash (Mulwala), Hamish Hosking (Mulwala), Cadeyn Williams (Cobram), James Hazelman (Barooga), Todd Gallagher (Deniliquin), Tyron Baden (Cobram), Kane Atkinson (Rumbalara), Jordan Souter (Tongala), Liam Evans (Nathalia), Corey Wanganeen (Echuca United), Angus Grigg (Moama), Ash Morris (Deniliquin), Lance Oswald (Echuca United), Ed Barlow (Finley), Mitch Price (Numurkah), Rhys Archard (Moama).
10. Luke Dunham (Moama)
Dunham’s influence at Moama is not to be underestimated. After spending plenty of time forward last season through necessity, Dunham has been able to swing back to defence where he belongs this year thanks to his side’s recruiting. The move has certainly paid off, with the star regularly the best Magpie of the bunch. Can lock down almost anyone in the league, but is also a great attacking weapon from the back half.
9. Bowen Smith (Nathalia)
I wish I could squeeze Smith higher than number nine, because he is the next genuine superstar of the Murray Football League. Barely 20 and already into his sixth season of senior football in the best side in the competition, Smith is as impressive as they come at his age. While he can take games by the scruff of the neck or lift those around him when needed, Smith has a tendency to slide under the radar in Nathalia’s team full of champions. The three-time premiership midfielder can win the ball inside and out, but also take a big grab up forward.
8. Brodie A’Vard (Barooga)
If Brian Taylor commentated Murray Football League matches, A’Vard would certainly cop the moniker ‘‘Big Boy’’. A well-sculpted mass of muscle, Barooga’s main man in the ruck is as imposing as they come. I have given him the number one ruck spot in the league through his sheer presence on the field. Rarely outpointed in the air, A’Vard is a huge asset for the Hawks and feeds their midfield brigade exceptionally.
7. Tyler Jones (Moama)
Jones is one of the most versatile stars in the competition. A genuine goalkicking forward in his own right, Jones has added plenty to his tank ahead of this season in order to play more through the midfield. When you can win your own contested ball on the ground or take hangers in the air it makes you one of the most dangerous players on the field. While his goal hauls have decreased to start the season — largely due to the return of key forward Angus Grigg to Moama — Jones is still capable of ripping defenders to shreds when given the chance.
6. Nick Fothergill (Numurkah)
There are plenty of players in the Murray Football League who turn up to the game each week with their own football and Fothergill is certainly one of them. When he is fully fit, the Numurkah superstar seems to be everywhere on the field at once and uses the ball exceptionally. Can also kick a bag up forward — as highlighted by his 34 goals in 19 games last season — and alters the course of a large number of matches each year through his own performance.
5. Brodie Ross (Nathalia)
I rate Ross as Nathalia’s best big man due to his incredible athleticism. While team mate Liam Evans may be able to get to more contests, Ross is rarely beaten in the air due to his imposing stature and huge dukes. The Purple army backs him in to slot goals from anywhere inside 60m, and rightly so. Already has hauls of seven and six majors this season and will only add to that as the year goes on.
4. Tyrone Downie (Barooga)
Barooga gun Downie makes the top four due to his game-breaking ability. A contested ball freak, Downie is a force to be reckoned with in any area of the ground. While he makes his mark mostly on the ball, Downie is just as unstoppable up forward, with his size usually too much for smaller defenders to handle and his speed far too great for key backs. Uncontainable is a word which comes to mind to describe Downie on a good day — of which there are always plenty.
3. Drew Barnes (Nathalia)
On reputation alone Barnes could have easily slotted into the number one position in this countdown. The midfield bull still makes the podium though, a rightful place for this superstar. Opposition midfielders lining up next to Barnes know they are in for a tough day before the ball is even bounced. Has been described as a wrecking ball for the destruction left in his wake as he clears a direct path to the football for himself and his team mates. Out and out gun.
2. Ash Froud (Mulwala)
Speaking of out and out guns, Ash Froud is something else. I can only imagine what kind of a player Froud was in his prime with a healthy body to work with. Battled injuries and some questionable delivery at times last year and still managed to boot 113 goals in just 19 games at nearly half-a-dozen an outing. Only has 19 in six clashes so far this season, but I still believe he is the best forward in the competition by the length of the Flemington straight. Not huge in stature, but makes his presence felt with a great vertical leap and magnificent hands, as well as lightning pace across the ground. The only knock on Froud is his accuracy, as he would have likely had almost as many behinds as goals last season, but has an innate sense of occasion when it comes to getting it right — like after the siren from outside 50 against Nathalia last year.
1. BJ Squire (Congupna)
The honour of the inaugural Murray Football League Top 50 crown goes to BJ Squire. The man could do no wrong at the Shepparton Swans, winning the club’s best-and-fairest trophy in each of the past three seasons before returning to Congupna ahead of this year. Was clearly the biggest signing of the summer across the competition in my eyes and Squire will live up to that tag more and more as the year goes on. It is not just his match-turning ability which makes him the best player in the competition, but his capacity to urge those around him to give an extra 10 per cent. When The Road begins to climb the table — either this season or next — it will mostly be Squire’s doing.