There were seven native Sandgropers in last year’s team – Alex Rance, Jeremy McGovern, Paddy Ryder, Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy, Tom Mitchell and Elliot Yeo.
Just under one third of the team.
Yes, I’m including Mitchell, he did his senior schooling at Hale in Perth while his dad Barry was an assistant at the Fremantle Dockers and is a product of the WA underage system. He would represent WA in State of Origin.
Victoria contributed half of the team but that’s in-line with their 53 per cent of their players in the competition.
If not for Michael Hurley being name at centre-half back instead of McGovern (back pocket) the entire spine of the All-Australian team would have been West Aussies.
Swan Districts product and the son of former Eagle Murray Rance, Alex Rance has long been considered the best full-back in the competition.
At the other end of the ground, Buddy Franklin is the game’s biggest showman and best key forward.
Franklin and Kennedy have combined for the last four Coleman medals and you would think are on track to making that five this year.
Without getting into the annual hypothetical debate about State of Origin, a midfield with Ryder, Nic Naitanui or Aaron Sandilands (take your pick) hitting it down to Nat Fyfe, Tom Mitchell, Patrick Cripps or Jaeger O’Meara is a strong group.
Even the game’s highest honour – the Brownlow medal – suggests WA’s performance is better than the 14 per cent of players they contribute.
Five West Aussies have taken Charlie home since 2000 with Shane Woewodin, Simon Black, Ben Cousins, Matt Priddis and Nat Fyfe the state’s most recent winners.
Five out of 18 is a winning ratio almost double that of the WA representatives in the league.
WA is also home to the most productive football town per capita in Australia.
Northampton, a small town just north of Geraldton, has a population of just over 800 people but has produced a number of highly successful footballers.
Rising Star winner Paul Hasleby, Andrew Lockyer, Tarkyn Lockyer, Daniel Chick, the Eagles Josh Kennedy, Harry Taylor, Patrick Cripps, his cousin Jamie Cripps and Liam Anthony are all from the small coastal town.
The next step for WA football is to contribute more than 14 per cent of the talent pool, but in the interim at least the top-end is among the very best.
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