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Collingwood midfielder Kyle Martin is among the favourites for Monday night’s JJ Liston Trophy count

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IT was an oft-asked question among Collingwood supporters this year: why can’t Kyle Martin get a game?

His more vocal fans (some of them attached to his junior club, Noble Park) took to Twitter to express their frustration, pointing out his form in the VFL could not be better.

Martin pushed up for two AFL matches, but before and after he put together a fine season in the state league.

His reward could come at Monday night’s JJ Liston Trophy.

The midfielder will enter the count as one of the favourites after averaging 28 possessions across his 14 VFL games.

He also kicked 27 goals, including a haul of six against Essendon in Round 4.

Collingwood VFL coach Dale Tapping gives his right-footer an excellent chance of claiming the Liston.

“He’d have to be up there because his performances were at a high level,’’ Tapping said.

“He’s dynamic. He’s around the ball, he wins the footy and he finishes, has the ability to hit the scoreboard and kick goals. He’s completing a lot of the work.’’

Why couldn’t he earn more nods from the AFL selectors?

“The position he plays in … his best footy is as an inside mid and he’s trying to squeeze out (Dayne) Beams, (Luke) Ball, (Scott) Pendlebury, those types,’’ Tapping said.

“He can play a bit of a high forward role but generally he’s a ball winner and it’s about getting those opportunities in the AFL midfield.’’

He said Martin had matured greatly and given the VFL team unstinting leadership.

Three midfielders — Mitch Hallahan (Box Hill Hawks), Jordan Schroder (Geelong) and Stevie Clifton (North Ballarat) — shared last season’s Liston and on-ballers appeal as the best prospects again in this year’s count.

Eye-catcher: Port Melbourne midfielder Mitch Wooffindin.
Eye-catcher: Port Melbourne midfielder Mitch Wooffindin.
Port Melbourne has a welter of them: Toby Pinwill, two-time winner Shane Valenti, Chris Cain, emerging pair Tom O’Sullivan and Mitch Wooffindin, and James Magner.

Cain, so classy in winning and using the ball, was a popular tip last year but polled only nine votes. He’s maintained his golden standards and should push into double figures.

Valenti has been in the best less often than in previous seasons, but as Pinwill points out, his best games could earn him threes.

Pinwill is calling Valenti “the dark horse’’ while downplaying his own prospects.

Yet, finally free of injury, the rugged on-baller has had a career-best season, like Martin averaging 28 disposals, and it would be a surprise if he fails to figure in the finish.

Pinwill would be a popular winner, for he has served Port with distinction for a decade and earned admiration among VFL supporters with his wholehearted endeavours.

Wooffindin, now a top-liner, takes the eye with his speed and skills.

Consistent as a sunrise: Sam Iles of Box Hill Hawks. Picture: Mark Dadswell
Consistent as a sunrise: Sam Iles of Box Hill Hawks. Picture: Mark Dadswell
Box Hill Hawk Sam Iles, as consistent as the sunrise, attracted 12 votes last year, five shy of the winners, and should poll well again.

Playing every game, he was at the heart of the Hawks’ top-four finish.

With seven mentions in the best, and combining dash with around-the-packs desperation, Alex Woodward has decent claims of replicating Hallahan’s success as a Hawthorn-listed player working towards senior stripes.

Williamstown’s Frank Johnson Medal recipient Adam Marcon. Pic: Michael Klein.
Williamstown’s Frank Johnson Medal recipient Adam Marcon. Pic: Michael Klein.
As a top-four team, Williamstown will gain a lot of votes, but to whom do the most go?

Adam Marcon, the winner of this year’s Frank Johnson Medal as the VFL’s best in the state game against the SANFL, has regained his standing as a premier player after an injury-hit 2013 with the Northern Blues.

Willy insiders assess him as the club’s best hope, but expect Kane Lambert to surge home in the final six rounds and big Nick Meese to pop up with a few votes.

Scott Clouston and inspirational captain Ben Jolley should land a few too.

Of the Footscray Bulldogs, big Tom Campbell had some dominating games and Nick Lower rarely failed to make a contribution to a top-two team.

Jarred Moore, who nabbed 11 votes last year, looks to be Werribee’s best contender after another season in which he set the example with his fearless and tireless play.

Popular pick: North Ballarat’s Liam Anthony. Picture: Colleen Petch.
Popular pick: North Ballarat’s Liam Anthony. Picture: Colleen Petch.
North Ballarat has produced three recent winners — Myles Sewell in 2009 and Clifton in 2010 and ’13 — and the Roosters believe North Melbourne-lister Liam Anthony will have his name called often.

Of his 14 games, he was listed in the best on 11 occasions.

“I think he’ll go very, very well,’’ North Ballarat football manager Marg Richards said.

“He’s had an outstanding year with us — he’ll finish right up there in our best and fairest — and he’s got that nice blonde hair and he’s an in-and-under midfielder.’’

Bustling little Frankston on-baller Ben Cavarra could be the surprise package of the count.

Cavarra, who shared last year’s Morrish Medal when playing for the Eastern Ranges, seemed to be welded to the Dolphins’ list of best players.

With his pin-sharp work across half back, Fothergill Round Medal recipient Nic Newman might be another Dolphin to woo the whistleblowers.

Watch for Carlton-listed players to lead the voting for the Northern Blues, particularly Nick Graham.

Essendon skipper and prolific midfielder Ben Duscher and Leroy Jetta can be considered the Dons’ best chances.

Jetta polled seven votes from nine games last season, but played 15 this year.

With Geelong slipping down the ladder, it’s difficult to see a Cat topping the leaderboard. Shroder, Jackson Sheringham and Jackson Thurlow had their moments.

Of the other clubs, Adam Cockie will poll well for Sandringham but is ineligible through suspension, Ross Young was a stylish hand in the Richmond pack, AFL draft contenders Ozgur Uysal and Adam Saad caught the eye for Coburg, Max Gawn gave a handful of sterling performances for Casey Scorpions and Alik Magin never flagged in his efforts for Bendigo.


1. Toby Pinwill (Port Melbourne)

2. Kyle Martin (Collingwood)

3. Sam Iles (Box Hill Hawks).

Roughies: Alex Woodward (Box Hill Hawks), Mitch Wooffindin (Port Melbourne), Ben Cavarra (Frankston)


1. Liam Anthony (North Ballarat)

2. Kyle Martin (Collingwood)

3. Leroy Jetta (Essendon).

Roughie: Dan Connors (Port Melbourne)

The JJ Liston Trophy will be video streamed live via

Read the full article and selections from each club here: