Ten Years On: Who Would Represent Victoria and The Dream Team Today?

 

Ten years ago, AFL fanatics were given a treat, as the league gave long-standing fans a game pitting Victoria’s best footballers against the best players from the rest of the nation – The Dream Team as they would later be known as for this one-off contest on this one May evening at the MCG.

 

They called it the Hall of Fame Tribute match, this game was to commemorate 150 years of Australian football, and this match featured some of the best players of not just this era, but could be amongst the greatest names of all time. Names such as Judd, Richardson, Harvey, Mitchell, Goodes, Scarlett, Pavlich among many others played on this night. In front of just over 69,000 people, it was the Victorians that defeated the dream team in a shootout.

 

In today’s AFL, scorelines such as 21.11.137 and 18.12.120 would be unheard of in the same game. However, what if the AFL were to bring back this concept for one night only? AFL supporters have long craved for State of Origin footy to return, and in a way, we got our wish with the AFLW last year. But I know there are a lot of people that would rather see the men out there representing the Big ‘V’ or wanting to see superstars team up in a rare occurence.

 

Which is why I thought this morning, I give my take on who would represent both Victoria and the Dream Team if we had the Hall of Fame Tribute Match 10 years on from such a historic evening. Whilst both sides will boast different players in comparison to a decade ago, the lists still make for a tantalising match-up.

 

These lists will be decided strictly on 2018 form only, with injured players as of 28 May unavailable.

 

Explaining The Victorian Team

 

Picking a Victorian team is always hard. They boast the most number of players and no matter what amount of players you decide to settle on, there will always be at least one player that someone complains should’ve been there. Injury meant the likes of Luke Shuey, Toby Greene, Matt Crouch, Gary Ablett and Tom Lynch among others miss out, whilst the 2018 form of members of last year’s All-Australians such as Eddie Betts, Zach Merrett and Joe Daniher mean they also miss out.

 

Nonetheless, it’s still a very powerful line-up with talent on every line. Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin hold the last two Brownlow Medals in what is a very formidable midfield brigade. It also features All-Australian talents Andrew Gaff on one wing and Joel Selwood coming off the bench, along with Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae, Shaun Higgins, Steele Sidebottom and Clayton Oliver, who are all proven stars in their respective sides – Macrae, Sidebottom and Treloar in particular, sit in the top 10 in the league for disposals. Having Max Gawn in the ruck will be huge as he currently leads the AFL in hitouts, whilst having Stefan Martin as the back-up will be a great asset, as he has the aerobic capacity to play as another midfielder.

 

The forward line is not only capable of kicking a winning score, but it is extraordinarily versatile. Sidebottom and Higgins have proved that they can play forward as well and know where the goals are. Marcus Bontempelli and Robbie Gray – who I’ve named both on the half-forward flanks, can win games off their own boot, yet can push into the midfield and become a presence as well. In terms of tall forwards, I’ve had to settle on a 35-year old Jarrad Waite, who is still remarkably playing some awesome football at North Melbourne, with 22 goals in nine games this year. Jeremy Cameron (23.14 in nine games) is locked in at full forward, and Jack Gunston (21.14 in ten games) is the third tall in one forward pocket. Premiership Tiger Josh Caddy’s year is being horrifically underrated right now, sitting in the top-five in the Coleman Medal with 23 goals for the year and sits in the other pocket.

 

For the defence, I’ve had to find the perfect blend of tall defenders and mid-sized defenders that can either create, defend or both. For my tall defenders, I’ve opted with both North Melbourne’s Robbie Tarrant and Essendon’s Michael Hurley. Both men capable of playing lock-down defensive roles, but they thrive as intercept markers. Having Kade Simpson, Jake Lloyd and Michael Hibberd create run and drive that is required in today’s AFL, whilst Tom Stewart’s outstanding 2018 means he also gets a spot on the list. Heath Shaw comes off the bench after years of magnificent rebounding from defence, whilst James Sicily may be controversial, but there’s no doubt he’s a damn good talent when he gets his head straight. Tom McDonald is currently playing great footy as a forward, but he can also play solid defence, so he’s coming off the bench as well.

 

The Victorian Team

 

B: Jake Lloyd (SYD), Robbie Tarrant (NM), Tom Stewart (GEEL)
HB: Kade Simpson (CARL), Michael Hurley (ESS), Michael Hibberd (MELB)
C: Adam Treloar (COLL), Patrick Dangerfield (GEEL), Andrew Gaff (WCE)
HF: Robbie Gray (PORT), Jarrad Waite (NM), Marcus Bontempelli (WB)
F: Jack Gunston (HAW), Jeremy Cameron (GWS), Josh Caddy (RICH)
FOL: Max Gawn (MELB), Dustin Martin (RICH), Jack Macrae (WB)
INT: Stefan Martin (BL), Clayton Oliver (MELB), Tom McDonald (MELB), James Sicily (HAW), Joel Selwood (GEEL), Steele Sidebottom (COLL), Shaun Higgins (NM), Heath Shaw (GWS)

 

Explaining The Dream Team

 

The Dream Team is a team of the nation’s best players from all the other states and territories in the nation. Much like the 2008 Dream Team we saw last year, This Dream Team looks incredibly potent and would definitely cause a few headaches for the Victorians.

 

The midfield is top-notch, Led by 2015 Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe – who is currently in Brownlow form at the moment – and the league-leader in disposals last year and so far this year in Tom Mitchell, It’s already set the scene for a great midfield match-up. Patrick Cripps is perhaps the best contested ball-winner in the league right now, and they’ll get plenty of help with Fyfe’s team mate Lachie Neale and GWS’ Stephen Coniglio coming off the bench to provide grunt and class, whilst the run from Jared Polec, Bryce Gibbs and Issac Smith will also be vital in this side. Elliot Yeo has been terrific in the middle so far this year, but he can also be used as a defensive rotation. Brodie Grundy is amongst the top five rucks of today and is named starting ruck, with a more than capable back-up on the bench in Sam Jacobs.

 

Speaking of defence, the back six is just about littered with All-Australian defenders, with four of the starting six having been named All-Australian at one point or another. Alex Rance is easily the best key defender in the game right now and is continuing on from a stellar 2017. Jeremy McGovern is a brilliant intercept defender, whilst Adelaide’s Rory Laird is perhaps the game’s best running defender at the present time. Also let’s not underestimate what Dane Rampe has done over the past few years, his capabilities to shut down forwards, as well as provide run and drive from half-back is second-to-none. West Coast captain Shannon Hurn’s form is one of many reasons why the Eagles are playing so well, whilst Jeremy Howe’s last 12 months as a defender get him into this side. Whilst St. Kilda have been pretty ordinary this year, I feel Jimmy Webster’s form has been consistently great and thoroughly deserves a spot on the bench.

 

The forward line is going to be something to watch if the midfielders have their way with it. Currently, the top three goal-kickers after 10 rounds are Ben Brown (33.11 in 2018), Jack Darling (28.11) and Jesse Hogan (26.9). All of them feature amongst the starting six forwards. We know Brown is a super-accurate kick at goal and is backing up his 2017 year with an even better 2018, whilst Hogan and Darling have improved out of sight in comparison to recent seasons. Because of Hogan’s elite endurance, he can push further up the ground than required, which is why I have him on a forward flank. Lance Franklin has proven his worth over the years and would’ve been first-picked in this team. Dayne Zorko, despite getting tagged out of a few games this season, has done enough to get in the side as he has still managed to produce big games. Big performances from small forwards Mark LeCras (19.10), Charlie Cameron (17.4) and Luke Breust (23.8) have them in this side, completing a incredibly dangerous forward line.

 

The Dream Team

 

B: Shannon Hurn (WCE), Alex Rance (RICH), Jeremy Howe (COLL)
HB: Rory Laird (ADEL), Jeremy McGovern (WCE), Dane Rampe (SYD)
C: Jared Polec (PORT), Tom Mitchell (HAW), Bryce Gibbs (ADEL)
HF: Jesse Hogan (MELB), Lance Franklin (SYD), Dayne Zorko (BL)
F: Luke Breust (HAW), Ben Brown (NM), Jack Darling (WCE)
FOL: Brodie Grundy (COLL), Nat Fyfe (FREM), Patrick Cripps (CARL)
INT: Sam Jacobs (ADEL), Mark LeCras (WCE), Issac Smith (HAW), Jimmy Webster (STK), Lachie Neale (FREM), Charlie Cameron (BL), Elliot Yeo (WCE), Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

 

So which side do you think has a better chance of claiming the rematch of the Hall of Fame Tribute game?

 

For more of my readings – opinions or match previews/reviews – go to www.adbulldogscentre.com

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Great thoughts (and teams) Alex. The Dream Team would win that game by 10 goals. The Victorian spine looks pretty average to me. Just shows how much the Victorian Colonial Football League (sorry AFL) depends on raping and pillaging the empire to keep the home fires burning.
    No Nic Nait? Harsh. Play him off the bench for a quarter for the Dream Team. Most exciting burst player in footy.

  2. Jarrod_L says:

    The 2008 match was a really fun event, one that I’ll always remember since I went with my brother and we were sat a row away from Lethal, Bobby Skilton, Barass and a dozen other champions of the game.

  3. Dave Brown says:

    Remember the 2008 game clearly – we were in the hospital following the arrival of our first born (who turned 10 a few weeks back, alarmingly). The game was a bit of a fizzer from memory, taking bruise free footy to all new lows. Yep, I’d back the Dream Team but as PB suggests, I’d have Naitanui or Ryder ahead of Jacobs who appears to be a fading force this season.

  4. Stainless says:

    Have to concur that the Dream Team looks superior. Looking, as ever, through yellow and black glasses, for the Vics, you’d surely strengthen that rather fragile looking backline with a couple of Tiger defenders (for starters, David Astbury is streets ahead of Hurley or Tarrant, on form), and where’s Cotch? It’s a sign of the strength of the Dream Team that, try as I might, I can’t fit J. Riewoldt into that forward line, although it’s only because J.Darling is in such superb form at the moment.

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