Swan Districts in 2020 – A year to remember!

Monday, December 28, 2020 - 9:00 AM by Matthew Ogg

The Swan Districts Football Club have produced some great successes throughout the unprecedented 2020 season… particularly once the final siren had sounded.

In a tough year on the field, the men’s League, Reserves and Colts sides were only able to put 3, 1 and 2 wins on the board respectively, in the shortened eight-game format. Our women’s sides played seven games, with the League side making it to Week 1 of the finals (with 4 wins for the year), while the Reserves and Rogers Cup teams closed the season with 1 win apiece.

If we look past the win/loss ratios for 2020, it is obvious to see that there have been some other great achievements made by the club and individuals throughout the year, both locally and nationally.

Check out the summary below of what has had to have been the most ‘interesting’ year in WAFL football history. 

 

THE AWARD WINNERS

WAFL

Sam Fisher – Sandover Medal Winner

In a win that the ‘experts’ did not anticipate, Sam Fisher rose above the rest to receive WA footballs top honour, the Sandover Medal. The Canberra product was recruited by the Sydney Swans as a Category B rookie in 2016, having played through Ainslie’s junior ranks. After being delisted he joined the Northern Blues for a couple of seasons before making his way to Swan Districts, with the hope to revive his AFL career. As only the 10th Swannie to have won the Sandover Medal, he has given clubs something to think about as they look for ready-made, mature talent in the future.

Jesse Turner also polled well in the award finishing equal seventh, while big man Corey Gault came in equal ninth.

 

Zane Trew – Jack Clarke Medal Runner-up

Zane had an incredible year in in the Colts this season, despite missing almost two games with injury. Having suffered a concussion early in their Round 3 clash against Subiaco, he would return again in Round 6, instantly stamping his mark on the competition. Zane finished just two votes off winning the Jack Clarke Medal, behind Subiaco’s Lachlan Vanirsen, who played every game of the season. 

 

Ayden Cartwright also finished the count with 6 votes to his name.

 

WAFLW

Jessica Cox – Dhara Kerr Medal Top 3 Placing

It’s hard to go past Jess as being one of the players this season who worked extremely hard to improve her fitness, skills and game knowledge in 2020. A true team player, she would listen to what her coaches needed her to do and then go and lay her body on the line for both her teammates and for the pride of the jumper she wore. A beautiful kick of the ball who doesn’t shy away from a tackle, Jess finished the season equal third in the Dhara Kerr Medal.

 

Emily McGuire and Mikayla Hyde both finished the count with 4 votes each.

 

AFL

Lachie Neale – Brownlow Medal Winner

He may have won the Brownlow Medal at the Brisbane Lions, but we’d like to think that Lachie’s time wearing the black and white had something to do with his great rise in the football ranks. Coming across to Perth from South Australia, Neale was drafted by the Fremantle Football Club with pick 58 in the 2011 AFL draft. He played 15 games with Swan Districts between 2012 and 2013 as he tried to break his way into the Dockers top 22. He averaged almost 24 disposals a game in the black and white, including a 43 possession and nine mark onslaught against East Fremantle in what would be his last season at WAFL level. Neale never looked back from 2014 onwards, only playing in the AFL where he would go on to win an array of prestigious awards and recognitions, including: 3x Ross Glendinning Medals (2014, 2015 & 2018), 2x Doig Medals (2016 & 2018), 2x All-Australians (2019 & 2020), AFLCA Champion player of the Year (2020), Brownlow Medal (2020), and more. Lachie also took out the Brisbane Lions club Best and Fairest Award for this season, while former Swan Charlie Cameron finished 8th in the count.

 

Nic Naitanui – Club Best & Fairest

After an injury-riddled couple of years, Naitanui had a solid 2020 campaign, earning All-Australian honours and the John Worsfold Medal. The big ruckman averaged almost 30 hit outs per game in the shortened match format, along with over two tackles and six clearances a game. Naitanui played 23 games for Swan Districts before being selected by West Coast with pick #2 in the 2008 AFL draft.

 

Top 10 AFL Club Best & Fairest Winners

Ethan Hughes (Fremantle Dockers) – 7th place finish

Charlie Cameron (Brisbane Lions) – 8th place finish

Michael Walters (Fremantle Dockers) – 8th place finish

Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney Giants) – 10th place finish

 

Other 2020 AFL Award Winners

Ethan Hughes (Fremantle Dockers) – Players’ Trademark Award

Neville Jetta (Melbourne Demons) – Ian Ridley Memorial Trophy

Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles) – Player of the Finals

 

AFLW

Top 5 AFLW Club Best & Fairest Winners

Ebony Antonio (Fremantle Dockers) – 2nd place finish

Gemma Houghton (Fremantle Dockers) – 4th place finish

Angelique Stannett (Fremantle Dockers) – 5th place finish

Imahra Cameron (West Coast Eagles) – 5th place finish

 

Other 2020 AFLW Award Winners

Kara Antonio (Fremantle Dockers) – Best Club Woman

Mim Strom (Fremantle Dockers) – Best First-Year Player

Alicia Janz (West Coast Eagles) – Best Club Person

Imahra Cameron (West Coast Eagles) - Best First-Year Player

 

THE MILESTONES

There were a couple of big milestones this season at Swan Districts. Alex Howard became a life member of the club playing his 150th game in Round 1, while Co-captain Matt Riggio had a three-peat of 200 games.

 

WAFL

Alex Howard

Heading into the unpredictable 2020 WAFL Season, Howard would have been excused questioning if he would reach the milestone this year, with the Covid pandemic shutting down most aspects of the community. When the opportunity came, he was ready, playing arguably one of his best games of the season and being voted as one of the best Swans on the ground for the day.

Matt Riggio

Reaching 200 games is a rare feat for many players in the WAFL, so imagine hitting the milestone three times in one season. This was the case for Matt Riggio. Round 6 against Peel Thunder saw him achieve 200 senior games (including state games). Round 8 against Perth is where he notched up 200 League WAFL games followed by his 200th game in the black and white in Round 9. Coincidently, Riggio’s three milestone games were the only ones the men’s League side would win in 2020.

AFL

Rory Lobb – 100 games (Greater Western Sydney Giants & Fremantle Dockers)

Neville Jetta – 150 games (Melbourne Demons)

Lewis Jetta – 200 games (Sydney Swans & West Coast Eagles)

 

THE DEBUTANTS

WAFL

Frank Anderson (Round 1 vs West Perth)

Tarir Bayok (Round 2 vs Claremont)

Deven Costigan (Round 5 vs South Fremantle)

Tom Edwards (Round 8 vs Perth)

Sam Fisher (Round 1 vs West Perth)

Jacob Sideris (Round 5 vs South Fremantle)

Brayden Spackman (Round 3 vs Subiaco)

Nelson Waite (Round 1 vs West Perth)

 

WAFLW

Nicole Bombardieri (Round 1 vs Peel)

Kaitlyn Beaton (Round 7 vs East Fremantle)

Olivia Cripps (Round 1 vs Peel)

Stephanie Graskoski (Round 1 vs Peel)

Eilish Grundon (Round 1 vs Peel)

Chanel Jetta (Round 5 vs South Fremantle)

Courtney Lindgren (Round 1 vs Peel)

Mikayla Morrison (Round 1 vs Peel)

Emma Nanut (Round 1 vs Peel)

Tara Stribley (Round 1 vs Peel)

Isabel Strover (Round 1 vs Peel)

Loughlyn Webb (Finals Week 1 vs East Fremantle)

Sarah Wielstra (Round 2 vs Claremont)

AFL

Tobe Watson (Fremantle Dockers – Round 8 vs Geelong Cats)

Harry Edwards (West Coast Eagles – Round 9 vs Geelong Cats)

 

AFLW

Mim Strom (Fremantle Dockers – Round 1 vs Geelong Cats)

Emma O’Driscoll (Fremantle Dockers – Round 4 vs St Kilda Saints)

Bianca Webb (Fremantle Dockers – Round 2 vs West Coast Eagles)

Mikayla Bowen (West Coast Eagles – Round 1 vs Collingwood Magpies)

Imahra Cameron (West Coast Eagles – Round 1 vs Collingwood Magpies)

 

THE RETIREES

WAFL

Steven Payne (150 WAFL games – East Perth & Swan Districts, 3 Foxtel games)

George Hampson (129 WAFL games - Subiaco, East Fremantle & Swan Districts, 4 Best & Fairests)

 

THE TEAM OF THE YEAR

WAFL LEAGUE

Corey Gault (Ruck)

Corey was an obvious choice to be named as the number one ruck for season 2020, being selected into the Team of the Round six times in eight games. The former Collingwood big man was consistently dominant all over the ground, averaging 31.1 hit outs, 19 possessions, 3.1 tackles and 3.4 marks per game. He was also voted as one of the best on ground for the Swans seven times throughout the year.

 

Jesse Turner (Wing)

Jesse started off the season well, narrowly missing out on Team of the Week selection in the first three rounds. Polling four times in the remaining five games, he proved to be an important cog in the Swans midfield, and earned automatic selection into the Team of the Year. Averaging 23.1 disposals, 4.75 tackles and 3 inside 50’s a game, he was also voted in the best on ground for the Swans three times.

 

Sam Fisher (Interchange)

It was a surprise to see the 2020 Sandover Medallist named on the bench. Sam came to Swan Districts with big wraps on him, having spent time both on Sydney’s list and in the VFL. He immediately cemented his spot in the side and became one of the best midfielders, both at the Swans and throughout the competition. Sam finished the season averaging 26.5 disposals, 4.25 tackles and 3.75 inside 50’s per game, along with being voted in the Swans best on ground five times.

 

WAFL COLTS

Ayden Cartwright (Interchange)

Cartwright had a stellar year and rightfully deserved his spot in the side. He was voted as one of his team’s best on four separate occasions this season. Ayden averaged over 22 disposals, 3.4 tackles, 2.7 inside 50’s and over a goal a game.

 

THE CAPTAINS

WAFL

Captain

Tony Notte & Matt Riggio

Vice-Captain

Corey Gault

 

WAFLW

Captain

Emily McGuire

Vice-Captain

Aimee Ralph & Lauren Osborne

 

AFL

Captain

Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney Giants)

Leadership Group

Lachie Neale (Brisbane Lions)

Michael Walters (Fremantle Dockers)

Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles)

 

AFLW

Captain

Chelsea Randall (Adelaide Crows)

Kara Antonio (Fremantle Dockers)

Leadership Group

Ash Brazill (Collingwood Magpies)

Ebony Antonio (Fremantle Dockers)

Alicia Janz (West Coast Eagles)

 

THE ALL-AUSTRALIANS

AFL

Lachie Neale (Brisbane Lions) – Follower

Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles) – Ruck

 

AFLW

Gemma Houghton (Fremantle Dockers) - Forward

 

THE IMMORTAL SWAN

In a year that saw the Swan Districts Hall of Fame evening be pushed back to 2021, there was still an opportunity to honour an inductee to Immortal status – John Cooper. One of the nicest men you’ll ever meet, no one could have predicted the impact a bank teller from Manjimup would have had on the club, both on and off the field. A tenacious back pocket, Cooper started his career at the Swans as a speedy centre. His first 10 league games impressed both team mates and umpires alike, polling a Sandover Medal vote in each of them. After 122 games playing in the black and white, he became the Colts Coach at Swan Districts, before a transfer in employment to Boulder the following season saw him leave the club for five years. Upon returning to Bassendean, John Cooper would begin more than 40 years of continuous service for both the Swan Districts Football Club and the WAFL, in positions including; club President, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Secretary, WAFC Commissioner, and the list goes on.

 

THE DRAFT COMBINE

AFL and AFLW draft hopefuls around the country were personally invited to participate in their respective states Draft Combines. Clubs were asked to nominate their preferred list of attendees, with male and female players from the Swan Districts Football Club making up almost a third of those invited to participate in WA’s testing on September 30th.

 

Invited Swans players included:

WAFL

Denver Grainger-Barras and Zane Trew

 

WAFLW

Shanae Davison, Mikayla Morrison, Mikayla Hyde, Brianna Hyde and Sarah Wielstra.

 

THE WA STATE GAME REPRESENTATIVES

With the traditional style of U18 National Championship games cancelled due to the Covid pandemic, WA hosted its own set of fixtures to showcase their young talent in front of recruiters, before this seasons AFL and AFLW Drafts. A total of 16 players from the Swan Districts Football Club were named between both the men’s and women’s sides

 

The women’s teams were divided into two sides, the U18’s All Stars and WAFLW All Stars (who played one game), while the men were split into WA Gold and WA Black (playing two games).

 

WOMENS GAME

WA U18 All-Stars Representatives

Nyra Anderson, Mikayla Hyde, Brianna Hyde, Mikayla Morrison, Emma Nanut and Isobel Strover

 

WAFLW All-Stars Representatives

Sarah Wielstra

 

Final Score

U18 All-Stars 4.6 (30) defeated WAFLW All-Stars 1.7 (13)

 

MENS GAMES

WA Gold Representatives

Denver Grainger-Barras, Zane Trew, Will Collins, Rhett Bazzo, Ayden Cartwright, Brodie Morris

 

WA Black Representatives

Jamison Ugle, Ty Sears, Max Chipper

 

Game 1 Final Score

WA Black 13.15 (93) defeated WA Gold 6.2 (38)

Game 2 Final Score

WA Gold 18.5 (113) defeated WA Black 8.10 (58)

 

THE AFLW DRAFT

Shanae Davison (pick #18) and Mikayla Morrison (pick #30) capped off a strong 2020 season, given the opportunity by recruiters to live their football dreams of being on an AFLW list. As the 27th and 28th Swan Districts players to make it to the highest level since the 2017 AFLW inception, Davison and Morrison will represent the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers respectively. Both players are quite similar on field. Having spent much of their young football careers up forward, both found a new home in the midfield during this year’s shortened season, adding to their versatility and adaptability to shine wherever their coaches needed them. They play dry weather footy in wet conditions, have clean hands, good goal sense, are classy on the boot and provide strong defensive pressure around the ground. They are also talented basketballers who read the play well and know how to set up their team mates.

 

THE AFL DRAFT

Highly touted AFL prospects, Denver Grainger-Barras and Zane Trew, have lived up to expectations after being picked up by Hawthorn and West Coast respectively in this season’s draft. Spoken about as a potential number one pick for most of the year, Denver was able to shrug off the pressure that comes with that title to play an important defensive role across the Swan Districts backline. Picked up at #6, Hawthorn could not believe their luck, pouncing on the backman with their first top 10 pick in over a decade. Zane would have to already be seen as the steal of the draft. Discussed heavily by football journalists to be selected between picks 20 to 30, it was a shock to see his name not called out on draft night. Thankfully he didn’t have to wait too long, with the Eagles selecting him at pick #12 in the Rookie Draft the next morning. Club legends, Matt Priddis and Dean Cox also started their AFL journey from the rookie list. 

 

THE RECRUITS

Chris Jones

Starting his career with the Eastern Rangers, Chris moved to the Box Hill Hawks at the end of season 2014. After four years and a 2018 premiership, he stepped away from senior football to spend time exploring South America. Upon his return, he played with South Croydon in the Eastern Football League, along with the Tiwi Bombers for their 2019/20 campaign. 2020 would have seen him back in the VFL, having signed with Port Melbourne, before the recent pandemic shut the entire competition down.

 

Jesse Palmer

Originally from Ballarat, Jesse was drafted in 2014 by the Port Adelaide Football Club with their third selection, pick #78 overall. He spent three seasons with the Power before being delisted at the conclusion of the 2017 season. He signed on with the Northern Blues for 2018 and 2019 and was named in VFL Team of the Year in his first season at the club.

 

Lewis Jetta

Playing his junior football with Bunbury-side Carey Park, Jetta made his way to Swan Districts as part of the Colts program and was an important player in their 2007 Premiership win. After being overlooked in the draft that same year, he returned down south to play for Bridgetown in the Lower South West Football League. 2009 saw Jetta return to Swan Districts to play senior football. He played every game that year, including their two finals game appearances. He was selected to represent WA in their state game against South Australia and was drafted to the Sydney Swans with the 14th pick in the 2009 AFL Draft. He played 127 games with Sydney, including the 2012 Premiership win against Hawthorn, before making his way back home to Perth in 2015 as part of a trade that saw him land at West Coast in a straight swap for Callum Sinclair. In his time at the Eagles, Jetta became a pivotal player across half back. After the 2018 Grand Final win against Collingwood, he made history by being just the 30th AFL/VFL player to win a Premiership at two clubs.  

THE RENOVATIONS

The Swan Districts Football Club have been working hard behind the scenes to redevelop their facilities for the benefit of the community. Some of the renovations that have been achieved in 2020 so far include;

  • Roof repairs,
  • Seating upgrades around the oval,
  • A new indoor/outdoor audio system,
  • Improved signage,
  • Upgrades to the kitchen facilities,
  • A dedicated women’s change room, and more.

 

THE COMMUNITY

Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to show they care to change someone’s life for the better. Priding themselves on being able to help the community in many different ways, the Swan Districts Football Club were able to enhance their outreach in 2020, making positive contributions all around WA.

 

Just a few of the key initiatives included:

  • Need for a Feed – Every Wednesday morning the club opens their doors to help feed the homeless and/or hungry around Perth,
  • Food Bank – Players and staff have spent multiple days making hampers for the more vulnerable and less fortunate around WA,
  • Meal Makers – Our club CEO played his part in helping make over 234,000 meals for the community,
  • Sassy Ability – teamed up with community organisation to provide a space for them to hold fun and social weekly events for those with disabilities,
  • Reconciliation Week Tree – Representing people of different cultures and lives coming together as one big family,
  • Leadership & Mentor Programs – Help students develop new skills and cultivate their talents to assist in community programs and employment,
  • REACH – A program designed to build Resilience, Empower young women, be Accountable to the things you say you’ll do, build a strong Connection to your community and live a Healthy and positive lifestyle
  • Level 1 Coaching Accreditation – In cooperation with a metro school, staff have been able to help students achieve coaching certificates, and more.
  • Movember – Staff, coaches, players and supporters grew their moustaches for a good cause, raising over $5,000 to support male prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention and mental health.

 

THE ONES WE WILL REMEMBER

Jacinda Barclay, Jim Craig, Edith Dawson, Ray Ferris, David Holmes & Joseph Lawson