Normally around this time of the year I can let you know what I’ve let the AFL recruiters know about the riches in the WAFL – Kelly, Broad, Ryan, Baker, Pickett, Menegola, that kind of thing – 2020 was a bit different, maybe you noticed.
At first it appeared there wouldn’t be season. And if there was the surplus AFL players wouldn’t be allowed to play. Then a season was announced – nine teams with no West Coast and Peel to be on their own with no Dockers – eight qualifying games each. I liked the sound of it.
There was drama – three teams held fourth place during the last afternoon before the final finals spot was secured by Perth who beat the previously unbeaten South Fremantle and made the finals for the first time in a million years or something.
Fremantle Oval was announced as the grand final venue seemingly handing the flag to the Bulldogs who were promptly thrashed at home by Claremont in the second semi. Those teams met again the grand final and the Bulldogs won a classic.
The Sandover Medal was won my Sam Fisher from Swan Districts.
Jye Bolton of Claremont won the Simpson Medal in the grand final. His incredible performance highlighting the puzzle of his unattractiveness to AFL recruiters.
All the while there was trouble brewing at WA footy’s controlling body the WAFC – lots of people on big money and a voting system for commissioners that even Trump’s lawyers could’ve proved was dodgy.
Due to the short season and scoreboard spotting sojourns that took me to Pingelly, Collie, Wickepin, Narrogin and Corrigin I didn’t see a lot until late in the season.
Taking into consideration reduced AFL lists and lack of exposure of young talent the job of recruiters in the lead up to the coming draft will be even more difficult than usual. Maybe they will see the value in mature seasoned talent. Who knows.
So what was on display at league level in the WAFL?
Logan McDonald played every game for Perth. A willing key forward likely to go at number one or there-about in the draft.
Alec Waterman (Claremont). Once on the WCE list but was cut down by illness. A powerful mid-sized forward with a booming kick. He was excellent in the finals.
Jimmy Miller (South Fremantle). A raw key forward with great marking power. Tends to make things happen.
Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts). Defender who had the better of McDonald when they met.
Ajang Ajang (East Perth). Ruckman who’s getting more athletic and more at home in the game every year.
Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth). Youngster who looked right at home at league level late in the year.
Chad Pearson (South Fremantle). Disciplined mid-sized defender.
WAFL fairest & best winners 2020
Claremont: Alec Waterman
East Fremantle: Jarrad Jansen
East Perth: Jackson Ramsay
Peel: Jackson Merrett
Perth: Fraser McInnes
South Fremantle: Zac Strom
Subiaco: Kyle Stainsby
Swan Districts: Corey Gault
West Perth: Shane Nelson