The race to decide the AFL’s Most Valuable Player, as judged by his peers, is nearing completion – with the nominees for the 2014 AFL Players’ MVP Award released this week.
The AFL Players’ MVP remains the only football award decided by those who know the game best: the players.The winner of the Leigh Matthews Trophy will be announced next Tuesday September 9 at Peninsula, Docklands in Melbourne, broadcast live on Fox Footy at 8.30pm.
Players from all 18 clubs have voted internally to elect their three most valuable players in Season 2014.From here, every player in the competition will award a set of three, two and one votes to the three most valuable players from the 17 rival clubs.
In part two of six, our club-by-club look at the shortlist continues, starting with Collingwood:
Part one featuring Adelaide to Carlton can be seen here
Three of the Pies’ star midfield quartet have been elected as Collingwood representatives onto this shortlist. Skipper Scott Pendlebury’s selection was everything but a certainty following another stellar season in midfield – he sits at 5th in the league for disposals per game, but his efficiency (75%) with ball in hand betters any of the four players above him; leading even Gary Ablett by 5%. This highlights Pendlebury’s brilliant ability with the ball in traffic, making him the perfect on-field leader for coach Nathan Buckley.
Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom are Collingwood’s other two nominees, with the latter possessing a greater disposal efficiency than his skipper, Sidebottom is considered by many to be the quiet achiever at the Pies. His work outside of a contest between the 50-metre arcs makes him a key player to be tagged by the opposition.
Got to love Steele Sidebottom, runs all day, silky and knows how to find space forward and kick goals. Very valuable commodity for any team.
— Matthew Richardson (@mattricho0) April 25, 2014
Unlike Sidebottom, Beams’ late season form forced his name into the competitions spotlight and rightly so, after a vital win over Top 8 side Port Adelaide. The premier on-baller compiled 32 disposals, 7 tackles and a goal in the narrow victory and he’s on track for 10+ games of 30 possessions or over for the season. Four goal game in a convincing win over arch-rival Carlton was also a highlight.
Many AFL pundits and fans alike knew Dyson Heppell was destined to be a star, but few expected him to stand up as much as he did during the extended absence of skipper Jobe Watson. The midfielder is able to do things with the ball many others in the competition can’t and his late season form was a big part of why the Bombers are playing finals football in 2014.
— Triple M Footy (@triplemfooty) August 8, 2014
— AFL Players (@AFLPlayers) August 15, 2014
Down back, Cale Hooker has been the revelation of Thompson’s back six. He beat his direct opponent on many occasions throughout the season and, combined with his mobility to press up the ground, Hooker is able to be used in a variety of positions. Though perhaps his main strength is his astonishing ability to mark the ball instead of opt for a spoil, he took over 10 marks on more than a half-dozen occasions throughout 2014, highlighting the power of his overhead game.
Brendon Goddard backed-up his first season at Essendon where he won their Best & Fairest. As the Bombers began to find some consistent good form through the mid-season, laying the foundation for September, Goddard was at the forefront. Between Round 8 and 14, he compiled 30+ disposals in five of the six games. He was immense in a loss top side Sydney and pivotal in the crucial win over Adelaide, with 32 possessions, 12 marks and a goal.
Nathan Fyfe has enjoyed a stellar 2014. In season’s past, the perceived issue with Fyfe’s game was his ball-usage. However this year he’s disposed of the ball at above 70% efficiency, combine that with his average of nearly 27 possessions a game including 16 of those being contested and you have an elite AFL player. Fyfe’s game doesn’t end inside a contest either; his overhead marking ability is above that of one normally attributed to a midfielder, enabling him to arrive late in the forward line and kick truly or swing forward when an intense midfield tag requires it.
— AFL Players (@AFLPlayers) March 14, 2014
First use of the footy for elite midfielders like Fyfe is invaluable, highlighted by Aaron Sandilands’ nomination. The big man has enjoyed another top season following a run of injuries and will be in all-Australian contention with a small handful of others. Many believe he’s taken his game to another level by revolutionising hitouts, using his height to innovate and get the ball to new areas for his teammates.
Up forward, one of the best small forwards in the game completes Fremantle’s allocation. Hayden Ballantyne’s contribution to this Fremantle side was perhaps most felt when he was absent through injury or suspension. When he was on the field, though, his immense forward pressure and freakish eye for goal was at its best on many occasions, not least during the Dockers’ win over Richmond when he kicked a big bag of six.
The winner of the 2014 Leigh Matthews Trophy will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 9.