NAMED: North Coast AFL's Team of the Decade
AFL North Coast has announced its second ever Team of the Decade, which the latest side covering the years 2010 to 2019 and laden with stars of the local game.
The team comprises players from Port Macquarie Magpies, Nambucca Valley Lions, Coffs Harbour Swans, Coffs Harbour Breakers, Sawtell Toormina Saints, and the Grafton Tigers.
The key criteria to be eligible for selection was that the player must have played a minimum of three seasons in the AFL North Coast Senior Grade.
Collectively the selected players have won 48 AFL North Coast senior premierships, nine league Best and Fairest Medals, and six Woodlock Medal for best on ground in the grand final in the past decade alone.
The team includes:
• Dual premiership heroes from the Grafton Tigers in Will Darby, Dan Zacek, Evan Duryea, and Lee Anderson
• Port Macquarie's 2013 Premiership stars Craig Dicker, Rod Sonogan, and Jesse Schmidt
• Five-time premiership players from the Sawtell Toormina Saints in Matt Flynn, Luke Matthews, and Mark Couzens, together with four time Premiership winners Jim Angel and Danniel Johnson
• Dual Premiershp Coffs Harbour Breakers players Chris Frangos, Nick Stanlan-Velt, and Jacob Sincock
• Three time League Best & Fairest winners Jesse Schmidt and Mark Couzens, with Jesse winning all three of his in this decade
• Nathan Johnson, the only player to win flags with two clubs Sawtell Saints and the Coffs Breakers.
• Brothers Evan and Fraser Duryea
• Five players who were also named in the previous Team of the Decade - Jim Angel, Mark Couzens, Luke Matthews, Jesse Schmidt, and Dan Zacek.
Luke Stanford from Grafton was named captain of Team of the Decade, with Luke Matthews from Sawtell his deputy.
"It's an honour," Stanford said of his appointment.
"There are lots of players with a good footy resume in the room and who have played at good clubs.
"To be named as leader of that team is a heck of an honour."
Dual premiership winning coach Jim Angel was appointed coach of the team.
"It's very humbling," Angel said. "You see all these great footballers out there and you'd love to coach them.
"You could tell them what to do and just set and forget. It's a nice reward."
The Pioneers of Women's AFL on the North Coast have been recognised for the key role they played in establishing the thriving local competition that goes from strength to strength.
It is widely acknowledged throughout all levels of AFL North Coast that the introduction of women's footy has been an absolute bonus for the code, clubs, and community alike.
With the competition only two years' old it was not yet time to announce a Women's Team of the Decade, but it was absolutely appropriate to recognise those who were there from the outset and quickly became role models for their peers.
The Female Pioneers are those players that were involved in the demonstration matches in 2017 before the competition was born, who then went on to play club footy in 2018 and/or 2019.
Only a handful of these players had played competitive AFL prior to taking part in demonstration matches, with many making the transition from other sports.
Speaking on behalf of the Female Pioneers Alana Hanson, said: "We've just seen exponential growth in women's footy as more and more players come across and it's something that I never really thought could get this big.
"It's grown so much over a short space of time that we're trying to keep up but it's absolutely amazing to see."