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WAFL recognises stars of new generation
WAFL recognises stars of new generation

One of the nation's longest running sporting competitions has bridged a gap in its 127-year history with a new set of honours released today.

The Top 25 over the Past 25 has been devised by WAFL publication of record, the Football Budget, to recognise the best players to have contributed to the State league since WA joined the then VFL in 1987.

The move to a national competition prompted a significant change in the WAFL's operation. With much of the WA football focus on West Coast, and later Fremantle, the WAFL become a secondary competiton after more than a century as the pinnacle of the game in the State.

Despite forecasts of doom, the WAFL has survived and had a raft of talent showcase their wares over the following 25 years.

And a panel of judges including thewest.com.au Sports Editor Ross Lewis, Ian Miller, Todd Shimmon, Clint Roberts, Bill Monaghan, Todd Ridley, Football Budget editor Tracey Lewis plus historians Greg Wardell-Johnson and Steve Davies, has selected the 25 that have made the most significant contribution to club and competition in that generation.

The list in alphabetical order is -

MARTY ATKINS ( South Fremantle)

SHANE BEROS (Swan Districts)

STEPHEN BILCICH (East Fremantle)

BRAD BOOTSMA (South Fremantle)

JAXON CRABB (Claremont)

IAN DARGIE (Subiaco)

WILLIE DICK (Perth)

TRAVIS EDMONDS (Swan Districts)

CRAIG EDWARDS (East Perth, South Fremantle)

MARK HANN (Claremont)

ANTHONY JONES (Claremont, South Fremantle)

STEVE MALAXOS (Claremont, East Fremantle)

TOBY McGRATH (South Fremantle)

PAUL MIFKA (West Perth)

KRIS MILLER (East Fremantle, South Fremantle)

DARRELL PANIZZA (Claremont)

AIDAN PARKER (Subiaco)

ALLISTAIR PICKETT (West Perth, Peel Thunder, Subiaco)

KIM RIGOLL (West Perth)

JASON SALECIC (West Perth)

BRAD SMITH (Subiaco)

CRAIG TRELEVEN (East Fremantle)

RYAN TURNBULL (Claremont, East Perth)

MARC WEBB (Perth, Subiaco)

ROD WHEATLEY (East Perth)

The panel didn't follow the WA Football Hall of Fame guidelines, instead opting for a new set of criteria.The guidelines included - 1. Players must have played in 100 WAFL matches from the start of the 1987 WAFL season to the end of 2011 and can have played at AFL level.2. Weight is to be given to individual awards – Bernie Naylor Medal, Sandover Medal, Simpson Medal, captaincy, State representation and club fairest-and-best counts.3. Players do not have to be picked for a position. No line-up.4. Players to be assessed for “their outstanding contribution to club and competition and high level of achievement”.5. Already being a member of the WA Football Hall of Fame does not preclude inclusion.Tracey Lewis said the Football Budget was lobbying the WA Football Commission to have the list included in the annual hall of fame celebrations."It was important to move quickly to recognise what was becoming close to a forgotten era of great WAFL players," Lewis said."A full generation of talent has now passed through a different WAFL system and while the competition might not be at the top of the tree anymore the efforts of those that have starred in the league should still be honoured."It took seven months for the panel and the Football Budget to put the list together but it would be great to see the concept grow into a forum in which more WAFL players can be recognised for their achievements."

The 2012 WAFL season starts on Saturday.