The AFL does an admirable job introducing and promoting awards that recognise their players, albeit the execution can on occasion fall short.

The Mark and Goal of the year are downgraded to nothing more than a popularity contest due to the result being determined by a public vote. Likewise, what should be one of the most prestigious awards in the game, the Gary Ayres Medal for the premier finals player of the year loses some of its sheen by not being given clean air for its presentation, usually lost in the aftermath of the Grand Final.

Many other awards, among them selection of the AA team, the 22-under-22, and even the AFLPA MVP have significant limitations that prevent them from hitting the lofty heights they set out to achieve.

So here at the Mongrel, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to rectify another good AFL idea not quite reaching its potential, this time the Ron Evans Medal for the rising star. We’ve decided to rename it the creative ‘Mongrel Rising Star’, but will keep the same eligibility criteria as the official award, players cannot have played more than 10 senior matches or turned 21 before the start of the 2021 season. We’re we are adding our very unique magic mongrel secret herbs and spices formula is to the voting system, which presently involves seven assorted media dinosaurs desperately trying to remember the name of the top five most popular kids that Sportsbet have installed as favourite. Our system will see a 5,4,3,2,1 vote system applied each round and cumulative scoring with the winner crowned by finishing with the most points.

Of course, this doesn’t ensure our methodology is foolproof, but without being arrogant, we think we can do it a little better than the AFL. So without further ado (we’re also cultured speaking French, Gil would love that), here is the next instalment of vote-getters in the remarkably catchily named ‘Mongrel Rising Star’ award for 2021:

A little like the disarray the AFL fixture finds itself in at present, through circumstances somewhat out of our control at Mongrel HQ the Round 17 Rising Star article and votes were postponed. However, that means we can celebrate a bumper double edition today, with double the votes, double the pop culture references, double the pleasure, and double the detention!

ROUND 17 SUMMARY:

As we head towards the business end of the season the rookie performances are starting to ramp up and fitting worthy players into the votes becomes even more challenging. This round we’ve extended the honourable mentions as there were five players who deserved recognition for stellar games in Round 17. Of course, the plaudits were worn by Bomber mid-forward, Archie Perkins, who I’ve been dying to slip into the votes all season due to an uncanny likeness to Sherilyn Fenn’s love interest in Two Moon Junction, for those old enough to remember. If you are not, check it out, but make sure you are over 18! Perkins is the third Bomber to receive maximum Mongrel Rising Star votes this season and moves into double figures on the leader board with his three-set of votes.

After this round I thought it might be pertinent to compare the Mongrel Rising Star with how the coaches are viewing the next generation with the AFLCA votes. Obviously, those with the whistle are drawn to the biggest names, but some of our best and brightest Under 21s have made an impression. Tom Green leads the way clearly with 13 votes from four matches, followed by Sholl on 11, Gulden on 9 and Jacob Koschitzke with six in his breakout game against the Crows. Braeden Campbell, Georgiades, Perkins, Thilthorpe and Weightman are all on five in the next wave. Green is the only player to have caught the attention of the clipboard-wielders in more than two games, and interestingly Ron Evans Medal fancies such as Nik Cox and Deven Robertson are yet to poll in that award.

Meanwhile, the Mongrel leader board has seen our yellow jersey wearing Tom Green make a break for the ribbon on the bell lap, clearing out to a ten-vote advantage, Melbourne’s James Jordon continues his ultra-consistent season moving to within one vote of second, and sublime Swan, Justin McInerney moves into the top 5 for the first time this year.

5 votes:

ARCHIE PERKINS (Essendon)

Luxurious hair abounds out at the hangar, the windswept look really comes to the fore in the blustery conditions, and young Perkins is one of the finest purveyors in the Bomber line up. Against the Crows under the Friday night lights Perkins scorched the earth on his way to a blistering three-goal performance, that easily could’ve been six with three gettable misses.

18 disposals, nine score involvements, 338m, and two tackles inside forward fifty propelled him to the Rising Star nomination and earned him four coaches votes as well.

 

4 votes:

TOM GREEN (GWS)

The powerful red-head just misses out on his fifth five-vote game of the season with yet another eye-catching performance in an ultimately fruitless effort to will himself over the suddenly in-form Suns. Green was immense in the clinches, dragging out six clearances, and effectively delivered by hand for twenty of his 25 disposals. A further six tackles showed his willingness to get his hands dirty and adds further to the head-scratcher that saw him dropped a few weeks back upsetting the team’s renewed drive to the finals which has all but stalled now.

3 votes:

JUSTIN MCINERNEY (Sydney)

The smooth-moving Swan has excelled since a mid-season move to half-back, using his incredible anticipation to cut off attacking thrusts in the air and his exquisite skills to set up counterpunching efforts. Against the previously unstoppable Bulldogs, McInerney feasted on 11 marks with his nineteen disposals being delivered at an efficiency of 90% while also being a part of seven score involvement chains. A real mover in the markets as one to watch to win this award.

2 votes:

JAMES JORDON (Melbourne)

The courageous Melbourne small was again in everything in a brilliant return to form by the Dees who flexed their muscles at the notorious Adelaide Oval. Jordon’s performance mirrored the team’s steely resolve as he willed himself to 21 touches, four tackles, three inside attacking fifty, two clearances, five intercepts and a goal assist. Has really proven his place in this premiership credentialled line up.

1 vote:

HARRY SCHOENBERG (Adelaide)

The Adelaide winger has enjoyed an outstanding season, and has regularly just missed out on votes, however this game despite his team suffering a massive loss could hold his head high. 20 disposals which gained 391m, six tackles, four clearances and one of his side’s two goals had him listed as one of their best on a dark night against the Bombers.

Ryan Byrnes, desperately unlucky to miss the votes as he outmatched his Lions opponents on the way to 15 touches, two goals and a further two goal assists.

Miles Bergman, the young Port star refused to yield against the Demon pressure and was a great contributor despite the loss with 15 disposals and eight marks.

Josh Treacy, another unlucky to miss out in a hot field this week, the aggressive Fremantle key forward made great use of his 11 possessions, claiming two goals from four shots and an outstanding six tackles inside forward fifty.

Damon Greaves, the young Hawk has struggled for matches after a promising end to 2020, this match showed his class though with twenty touches at 85%, rebounding five times and gaining 391m for his side.

Jeremy Sharp, the flowing locks of this Gold Coast runner were on full display as he amassed 20 disposals, 4 marks and 3 clearances to be an important driving force in their one-point upset win.

Round 17 Leader board:

28 – Tom GREEN (GWS)

18 – Luke JACKSON (Melbourne)

17 – James JORDON (Melbourne)

15 – Justin MCINERNEY (Sydney)

14 – Lachlan SHOLL (Adelaide)

ROUND 18 SUMMARY:

 

Carrying on from the past couple of weeks, competition for votes has been fierce in Round 18 and apart from the highlighted five, and three honorary vote-getters, big-name rookies such as Tom Green, Matt Rowell, James Jordan and Nik Cox were key contributors for their respective sides but outplayed on the day by their contemporaries recognised below. While the challenges of a political-covid world are playing havoc with the AFL administration – a moment of reflection for the poor fixturing manager who was promised a cushy four weeks’ worth of work with the expectation of putting his feet up for the other 11 months of the year – the best of the under 21 brigade are just hungry for footy, and it’s great to see!

We’ve kept a running tally of clubs that seem to be benefitting more from a youth injection, and with Liam Stocker’s long-awaited vote-catching performance this round, the premiership favourite Cats are the only club without a mention in the Mongrel Rising Star for 2021. So is there a correlation between lack of youthful exuberance and premiership credentials, and are the lowly ranked teams monopolising all the fledgling talent? Our analysis seems to suggest quite the opposite apart from the aforementioned veteran Geelong, with the swarming Swans and marauding Melbourne topping the list of total votes to date. Through eighteen rounds, Sydney have had five nominees poll Mongrel votes for a team total of 47, while the Demons three have compiled 38, the Giants sit back in third boosted by Tom Green’s remarkable 28-vote tally, and the Crows and Bombers round out the top five with 28. It’s not an exact science, but it would suggest that surrounding precocious talent with genuine A-graders can fast-track their development.

Our raging favourite Tom Green remains atop the leader board but a bona fide challenger in the shape of Justin McInerny has burst into contention rocketing into second place with nineteen votes. The Swan number 27 has polled in each of the last four games and is riding a rare wave of form as his team moves into premiership calculations.

5 votes:

JEREMY SHARP (Gold Coast)

In a battle of the 1980’s nightclub kingpins, Eddie McGuire’s fanciful attempts to drum up support for a Rising Star nomination to Miles Bergman were comfortably overshadowed by Dermott Brereton’s fawning over fellow kindred surfing spirit, Jeremy Sharp. Recently recommitted to the Suns, the Perth native has taken his running game to a new level over the past few matches and produced easily his finest game at this level in a super competitive outing against the Bulldogs.

Thirty disposals, including 24 kicks at 90% efficiency achieved 518m for his club as ten marks, eight intercepts and seven rebounds from defensive fifty led to nine score involvements in a power-packed game worthy of the five votes and Rising Star nod.

4 votes:

JUSTIN MCINERNEY (Sydney)

The perfectly balanced Swan hasn’t so much crept up on the Mongrel leader board over the past few games as much as he’s smashed the door down, Jack Nicholson style in The Shining. “Heeeeeeere’s Justin!”

Quiet in the opening stanza with just four touches, McInerney erupted in the quarters following, collecting 23 possessions again at the elite rating of 83% as he drove his side forward 399m. Five intercepts, seven marks, five one-percenters, eight score involvements, a direct goal assist and two goals of his own in that dramatic swan surge illustrated his incredible all-round game.

3 votes:

MITCH GEORGIADES (Port Adelaide)

In almost any other week Georgiades’ four-goal performance would’ve received top billing, but two outstanding matches by his contemporaries pushed the power key forward down the podium on this occasion. He didn’t waste one of his ten disposals, with four marks inside forward fifty alongside two tackles in that zone had him the premier tall target o the ground and good enough for five coaches votes.

2 votes:

HARRY SCHOENBERG (Adelaide)

This young Crow must surely be a favourite of coach Matthew Nicks as his effort is always at 100%. While his side was eventually overrun by the Eagles, Schoenberg was influential throughout on the way to recording twenty-four disposals, six marks, tackles and clearances, five rebounds from 50, four intercepts and a goal to again be one of his sides very best in a disappointing loss.

1 vote:

LIAM STOCKER (Carlton)

Finally, the Blues get on the Mongrel Rising Star tally board after a run of very strong form by Stocker has culminated in a starring role in a come from behind win against their oldest rivals, Collingwood. Stocker gained almost 400m from his seventeen touches at an impressive 83%, rebounding from defensive fifty six times, and coolly slotting a goal.

Honourable mentions:

Oliver Henry, the early Collingwood draft selection and brother of impressive Cat, Jack played a starring early role in the big clash against the Blues, slotting three goals in the first half from his 12 disposals, claiming four marks inside 50.

Jamarra Ugle Hagan, the Bulldogs prized number 1 NGA pick from the 2020 draft finally announced himself with three electric goals at Metricon from four marks inside the attacking arc.

Errol Gulden, another sublime 19 disposal game from the early front runner for the Rising Star included four marks and three tackles, and that innate ability to make good decisions. Potentially the best player from this draft crop.

Round 18 Leader board:

28 – Tom GREEN (GWS)

19 – Justin MCINERNEY (Sydney)

18 – Luke JACKSON (Melbourne)

17 – James JORDON (Melbourne)

14 – Lachlan SHOLL (Adelaide)

 

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