A Footy Addict’s Top 20


TWITTER – @jclark182


I am not a retired ex-AFL superstar or even a well-renowned football journalist. But I thought I would have a crack at my top 20 players in the competition.

Please keep in mind that performances in the 2014 season have been heavily taken into account, which is why key players in Jobe Watson, Dane Swan and Ryan Griffen have been omitted from the list.


1. Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)

Some people find it trendy to try and critique Gary Ablett’s game but put simply, he is undoubtedly the best footballer in the game. Ablett excels in nearly all areas of the game and you only need to look at how Gold Coast have performed in his absence. Despite missing a large chunk of the season, he remains one of the favourites to win his third Brownlow.

2. Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)

The Fremantle star does not possess the classical silky smooth skills that many other elite players do. But there comes a time when you need to ignore the over-complicated statistical side of the game and focus on pure influence on a match. The way Fyfe wills himself into the contest at important stages of a match is second to none and his playing style is reminiscent of a young James Hird. One of the best overhead marks in the competition and is likely to be robbed of a Brownlow this year.

3. Lance Franklin (Sydney)

Say what you want about Franklin, the man can deliver. In one of the most publicised moves in the history of the game, Franklin’s move to Sydney brought many doubts about what impact he would have at the Swans. After a slow start to the season, Franklin has been in dominant form and at his best there is no more exhilarating player in the competition.

4. Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)

Pendlebury has the rare ability to play the game as if it were in slow-motion. His poise and decision making is like none other and Collingwood supporters must love the ball in his hands. Despite an inconsistent season from the Magpies, Pendlebury has been more than solid and is high up in the majority of media awards.

5. Josh Kennedy (Sydney)

The ultimate blue-collar footballer. Kennedy attacks the contest like a bull at a gate and his 96kg frame means he wins the contested football more often than not. He is one of the most competitive players in the AFL and is a major part of Sydney’s midfield dominance.

6. Tom Rockliff (Brisbane)

Perhaps the most underrated player in the AFL, Rockliff goes about his business quietly up at the Lions. But he has quickly developed into the complete player with the ability to accumulate plenty of the football and tackle like a machine. Another impressive dimension to Rockliff’s game is his ability to cause damage up forward, which is something that I think will emerge even more in the coming years.

7. Joel Selwood (Geelong)

Arguably the most admired player in the AFL, Selwood’s appetite for the contest has earned him the respect of the football world. He has been a gun since he entered the AFL with the luxury of joining a champion on-ball brigade. Like Fyfe, Selwood stands up when his side needs a lift.

8. Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn)

When it comes to versatile players, Roughead’s name is usually at the top of the list. He has spent the majority of his career playing a supporting role for Franklin but make no mistake, he is the main man at Hawthorn now. Last season’s Coleman medallist is finding form at just the right time and there’s no doubt he will be a real weapon for the Hawks come September.

9. Trent Cotchin (Richmond)

The Richmond skipper is a sublime footballer. Like most players in this list, he cops a hard tag every week but his colours are rarely lowered. He probably hasn’t reproduced his sublime form during the backend of 2012 but on his day he is one of the more damaging players in the competition.

10. Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)

Port supporters breathed a heavy sigh of relief when their captain re-signed with the club after speculation he was heading back to Victoria. Boak is an unheralded footballer that goes about his business quietly and offers great on-field leadership.

11. Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)

Dangerfield at his best is a sight to behold. A full flight Dangerfield bursting away from a stoppage, taking a couple of bounces and booting a long goal is one of the most beautiful things in today’s game. The Adelaide star definitely has the potential to become the game’s best player once Ablett relinquishes that mantle.

12. Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)

This time last year, Gray would have looked very out of place on this list. But his form this season has been nothing short of superb. He will surely earn a spot in the All-Australian team such as been his form, especially in the early stages of the year when the Power were dominating. A super skilful half-forward, Gray has also shown form when moved into the midfield.

13. Harry Taylor (Geelong)

Mr. Reliable himself. Taylor’s input this season probably hasn’t been as noticeable as in Geelong’s premiership winning years but last night’s game against Fremantle showed just how much of an influence he can have on a match. One of the best readers of the play in the competition, Taylor has also shown ability in his rare times that he has moved up forward.

14. Dayne Beams (Collingwood)

Beams is one of the most consistent players in the league. He is afforded the luxury of not copping a tag every week due to having Pendlebury and Dane Swan in the same side but this shouldn’t count against Beams. He regularly gathers 30+ disposals and kicks a couple of goals and for that alone he makes this list.

15. Dyson Heppell (Essendon)

Heppell has taken his game to another level in the absence of Jobe Watson. His playing style has been likened to Scott Pendlebury with his composure when he has the football in his hand. Seems destined to be the next captain of the Bombers.

16. Steve Johnson (Geelong)

Johnson executes kicks that other footballers cannot even see. At his absolute best he is probably on par with Ablett for sheer brilliance. His discipline, or lack thereof, has landed him in strife this season but expect him to play a big part in Geelong’s premiership campaign.

17. Callan Ward (GWS)

What the Western Bulldogs would do to regain the services of Ward. It has been a tough couple of seasons for the tenacious midfielder since moving to the Giants. He has often been the lone man amongst boys in the midfield but his season this year has been admirable.

18. Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda)

He will go down as one of St Kilda’s greatest ever footballers. Despite his side’s lowly position on the ladder, Riewoldt has proven to be one of the most damaging forwards in the competition. His fitness and work-rate is at the absolute elite level, even when you place him amongst midfielders. He would still be seen as one of the best players in the AFL if he were at a side that was higher on the ladder.

19. Luke Parker (Sydney)

Every supporters loves a “see-ball, get-ball” player, which is exactly what Parker offers. But Parker also offers finesse and skill and has been one of the Swans’ better players this year. His ability to cause scoreboard damage sets him apart from other similar players.

20. Dion Prestia (Gold Coast)

The nuggetty, yet deceptively fit, midfielder has been a revelation this year for the Suns. He is one of the leading disposal getters in the competition and his low centre of gravity makes him a hard player to tackle. Prestia can break the lines with his run and carry and rarely wastes a disposal.




About Jackson Clark

Born and bred in Darwin, Northern Territory, I am a young, aspiring football writer that lives and breathes the game of Australian Football. I'm also a keen player and coach.


  1. Fyfe is #1, and I would have Heppell higher (Top 5) on this year’s form.
    Couldn’t find a spot for NicNait?

  2. Pretty hard to disagree with any on that list.

    Peter – I assume the Nic Nait query is a joke?

  3. cannot argue with this top 20,well done

  4. Who’s Nic Nait?

  5. Only room for one Hawk? Really? I would put Jordan Lewis in the Top 20 without blinking. Cheers

    And Hodge has just been voted best captain and toughest player in the comp.

    Other than that, good list. Cheers

  6. DBalassone says

    Good list and great commentary Jackson – I know they’re always hard to do, but here’s my 2 cents: what about key defenders such as McKenzie, Talia, Hooker and Thompson. These guys have the toughest role in footy – stopping the best forward.

    And what about running defenders such as B.Smith, M. Johnson, Malceski and as Rick says above Luke Hodge (who is a pillar of strength across half-back but can also go into the middle).

    No room for Priddis, Harvey, Mundy or opportunist forward Breust who has booted almost 50 goals and could win the Coleman?

    No Ruckmen? What about Sandilands?

    I admire Nick Riewoldt too, but surely Hawkins gets the nod ahead of him if it’s a current list.

    So there’s my 2 cents – can we make it a top 50?

  7. Todd Allison says

    Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell missing is a bit of a stretch. Hodge is still a superstar and Mitchell is probably the most underrated footballer to have laced on a boot. Also, Matt Priddis and Boomer Harvey should’ve been there. Others to be given strong consideration also were Hawkins, Luke Breust, Sam Jacobs, Dustin Martin, Jordan Lewis, Jarrod McVeigh, Kieran Jack, Adam Treloar, Nathan Jones, Talia, Cale Hooker, Tom Liberatore, Lenny (hasn’t finished yet) Hayes and Kade Simpson. When I think about it, 20 might not be enough.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A very hard job eg Cotchin v good player but you can mount a case for , Martin , Rance and Deledio ( now he’s not playing as the plus 1 ) and even , Maric being more important for the tigers . I am in awe of Dangerfield getting on to the park as banged up as he is. How bout a worst 20 ? Troy Chaplin Captain ?

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