Campbell Combe does it again

Crystal Brook midfielder Campbell Combe secured a second successive NAFA Mail Medal on Monday night.

And like last season, he beat home his skipper Luke Kapitola to win the 2017 award. 

The presentations were held at the Laura Football Club rooms and hosted by the Southern Flinders Tigers on September 4.  

It was a race between the two, with Combe and Kapitola only being separated by a vote after round 14, the left-footed midfielder on 19 and his captain on 18. 

Combe would garner five more umpires votes in the final two rounds to collect this accolade. 

“It's hard to compare the two,” Combe, who will turn 22 later this month, said. 

“I've been lucky enough to play in a successful team which certainly helps and we always have lot of contributors. 

“The eye is really on the main prize – this is only a secondary medal – to the one at Broughton Oval in two weeks’ time.”  

Combe confirmed the opportunities of playing grassroots representative football in the Landmark Cup, for the Northern Zone and for SA Country again this year was a great experience and the friendships with the people he's met playing at those levels has been a great part of this involvement. 

Combe was a member of the Roosters 2015 A grade premiership and also rates very highly the under 18s title he won with SA at the National Championships back in 2013 on his list of achievements. 

His coach Shane Arbon described Combe as a humble, determined and courageous footballer. 

“Cam epitomises what the spirit of country football and what the country football club is all about,” Arbon said. 

“He has a team first mentality and is simply the most consistent and brilliant footballer I’ve seen.”

Arbon, when describing his skipper Luke Kapitola – now runner-up to the Mail Medallist on four occasions to go with his victory in 2015 – suggested he has developed into a truly brilliant leader. 

“Luke's clearance work at stoppages is second to none and his record now speaks for itself,” Shane Arbon said.   

 “Along with his regular vote catching on Mail Medal night, which we saw again this evening, he is a three-time premiership captain. 

“That sums up his brilliant consistency.”

In the A grade medal count after eight rounds, Combe was at 14 votes, six in front of his skipper Kapitola with eight while younger sibling Will Combe was on seven, along with Jake Keller from the BMW Lions and Tigers rover Justin Thompson. 

After 12 rounds Campbell’s lead had eked out by one. He was on 19 and there was a group of three players, including Kapitola, along with the Eagles pair of Maddy Hayes and Tom Button all on 12, while Keller was one behind them on 11. 

If he continues at this rate and isn’t lured back to Adelaide, Combe has the capacity over the next decade to rival SA Football Hall of Fame legend Peter Kitschke as the NAFA’s greatest ever player.  

Double delight for Tigers, Roos’ junior champ

This year’s reserves Maurice Kerin Memorial Medal was won by Brett Ballantyne from the Southern Flinders Tigers Football Club.

Ballantyne – a star junior in the competition – was two votes behind team mate and last year’s winner Brett Cunningham after eight rounds with 10 votes, while Jamestown-Peterborough stalwart Ryan Simpson had collected eight votes to this point.

After 12 rounds, Ballantyne took the lead and he then collected eight “umpires votes” between weeks 13 to 15 of the season and would finish with a commanding seven vote victory over runner-up Jordan Arthur from the BMW Lions with 23 votes.

Arthur was second with 16, with Ryan Simpson and Cunningham finished equal third with 13 each.

Ballantyne is now 27, while runner-up Jordan Arthur – who was second in the Mail Medal count at A grade level in 1999 and third in 1997 – is now 37. Arthur has previously collected a NAFA Junior Colts and Senior Colts association best and fairest.

This year’s Senior Colts NAFA Medal was won by Tom Harslett, also from the Southern Flinders Football Club. Harslett, who is also an outstanding cricketer who travelled to India this year with the Darren Lehman Academy, finished with 28 votes.

He finished four ahead of Jamestown Peterborough ruckman Josh Weatherley, with BMW Lions athletic utility Declan McCallum in third place with 20 votes.

After the first eight rounds Harslett and Nathan Hooper from Crystal Brook shared the lead with 11 votes each, but by round 12, he and Weatherley had jumped out to 20 and 17 votes each.

Harslett has strong sporting genes on both sides of his family, with his auntie Kerry Brown from Kapunda recognised as the best netballer in the Barossa, Light and Gawler association’s history.

The Junior Colts medal was won by Orroroo’s Oliver Dignan with 35 votes, six ahead of BMW’s Jackson Kumnick and Crystal Brook’s Hugh Jackson. Dignan is the son of dual Mail Medal winning Roo Matt, who collected his first Mail Medal 20 year ago in 1997 and a second one in 1999.

After eight rounds Oliver Dignan had collected an impressive 21 of a possible 24 votes in this award.

He arrived at the medal count with a “moon boot” on his leg after injuring his foot in the second semi -final victory. He suggested he is still expected to play grand final day at Port Broughton in two weeks, despite a crack in his foot.

Team of the Year

Forward: Will Combe, Daniel Hill, Chris Elliott

Half For: Shane Ballantyne, Dylan Hewett, Luke Slattery

Centre: Tom Button (C), Luke Kapitola (VC), Maddy Hayes

Half Back: Jake Keller, Tai Martin Page, Brodie O’Dea

Back: Mitch Bowley, Damian Ellery, Andrew Wilson

1st Ruck: Lachlan Pope, Campbell Combe, Justin Thompson

Interchange: Ben Woodall, Tom Reid, Rian Crane, Graham Cooke