The South West Football League will crown its fairest and best player for the 2018 season on Tuesday, September 11 with the Hayward Medal.
After every game throughout the season, the umpires ranked who they felt were the three best players on the ground, with the votes to be counted and handed out to the league’s best player for the 73rd time.
A number of other awards, including the Nola Marino Medal for the fairest and best player in the women’s competition, will also be handed out on the night.
Check out who we think is each team’s best chance to take home the medal and let us know who you think will win.
Augusta Margaret River
Augusta Margaret River captain Mitch Lynn backed up his strong 2017 season – where he finished equal-second in the Hayward count – with another great year.
The inside midfielder was influential for the Hawks in most of their games and would have been right under the umpires’ noses.
While he may not have too many three-vote games, expect him to rack up the ones and twos, especially late in the season.
Expected to poll: Mitch Payne, Seve Grantis, Jack Hick, Matt Jukes.
While two-time winner Jesse Gribble and co-captain Brad Blake had good seasons for the Bulldogs, Brett Peake looks like he could be the one to pick up the most votes.
Peake finished the season with 61 goals and kicked numerous bags of goals throughout the season.
The fact that Bunbury won 13 games and Peake was a consistent name of the scoresheet means he’ll have plenty of chances to pick up votes throughout the season.
If he’s near the top of the leaderboard at the top of the season, look out because if there’s one certainty this season it’s the three votes he’ll collect for his 12 goal haul over Collie in the final round.
Expected to poll: Jesse Gribble, Brad Blake.
Jon Meadmore was one of Busselton’s most consistent performers in what was a very inconsistent season for the Magpies.
The half-back flanker was regularly one of the Magpies’ best performers week in, week out but will have to contend with key forwards Aidan Fraser and Steve Cameron pinching votes at different points of the season.
Meadmore really came into his own later in the year when Busselton was on a charge towards finals, so don’t be surprised if he polls reasonably well on the night.
Expected to poll: Mitch Tenardi, Aidan Fraser.
Picking a leader for the Panthers is hard considering they had a number of standouts, but Tim Yarran should be well placed.
The Panthers shocked the competition with their strong start to the season and the quick midfielder was one of the key players behind that.
Like the team itself, Yarran dropped off a little in the second half of the season but expect him to poll a few votes early.
Forward Riese Wilkey is another who could lead the Panthers, with 44 goals and five games of four goals or more.
Expected to poll: Riese Wilkey, Tyler Chalwell, Eli Hill.
With the Eagles winning just the six games they’re probably not going to poll too many votes, but it should be a tight race between captain Teke Vernon and key defender Mat Michael to be Collie’s leader.
Vernon had an astounding second half of the season and was in Collie’s best two or three players in each of the last ten games or so.
Whether that will translate to votes given some of the Eagles’ heavy defeats is the question. He should probably pick up two or three votes in several of Collie’s wins – most notably the back-to-back wins over Carey Park and Harvey late in the year.
But if it’s not Vernon who ends up as Collie’s leader, then it should be Mat Michael, whose strong defensive instincts and intercept marking was one of the highlights of the Eagles’ season.
Expected to poll: Mat Michael, Joel Houghton.
2017 may finally be Atthowe’s year to take home the Hayward Medal after a number of top-five finishes.
The midfielder flourished for Donnybrook after making the switch from Eaton alongside Jace Cormack over the off-season and would have to be one of the favourites to top this year’s count.
With the Dons finishing on top of the ladder with 14 wins, Atthowe will have lots of opportunity to poll votes and he has shown an ability to rack them up in the past.
Atthowe should get best on ground honour in at least three games – a six-goal effort against HBL and a pair of four-goal games against Busselton and Harvey – and will surely pick up votes in several other games after finishing the season with 25 goals.
Expected to poll: Jace Cormack, Dion Parker, Shane Cristaldi, Sam Lowrie.
One of the better outside chances to claim the Hayward Medal would have to be Eaton young gun Heath Ryder.
Ryder played a range of roles around the ground and was a huge influence on the team’s rise up the ladder.
Also working in his favour was his ability to hit the scoreboard, finishing the season with 22 goals.
Ryder will have stiff competition from forward Brandon Jetta though, who is likely to grab the three votes on at least a couple of occasions throughout the season.
Expected to poll: Brandon Jetta, Jarrod Humphries, Gregory Humphries, Jayme Osiejak.
Harvey Brunswick Leschenault
Former WAFL ruckman Mitch Andrews is another player that has earned the right to be considered a favourite for the medal this year.
Andrews was one of the most dominant ruckman all season and was a regular force at stoppages, something the umpires will have surely noticed.
His strong marking around the ground also set him apart from the opposition and he probably won’t have too many teammates pinching votes from him.
The fact that Harvey Brunswick Leschenault won just eight games and Andrews didn’t hit the scoreboard too often may work against him, as will the fact he missed a few games.
Expected to poll: Jesse Crichton, Jack Quinn.
After finishing the season on the bottom of the ladder with just two wins, the Bulls probably aren’t going to pick up too many votes.
But one of the players who should poll a couple of votes is key forward Ryan Nye, who finished the season in the top five goal kickers with 43 goals.
While he may not poll any votes in either of the Bulls wins, over HBL and Collie, the fact that he kicked at least three goals 10 times means he would be a good chance to collect some one or two vote games.
Expected to poll: Michael Robinson, Brendon Jones.
He’ll face stiff competition from Liam McKenna, but Leigh Kohlmann looks to the the Tigers best chance to poll votes.
The big forward led the league’s goal kicking for much of the season and finished with 60, just one shy of Brett Peake.
The fact that Kohlmann kicked at least four goals on nine occasions throughout the home and away season gives him a good chance to grab a few votes along the way.
His end to the season, where he kicked two bags of eight, a six and a five in the final four rounds, means he’ll come home hard in the count.
Expected to poll: Liam McKenna, Brent Latch, Guy Piggott.