NPL Queensland commentator, Rafe Griffin, provides his 2014 NPL Queensland Team of the Year.
It was a tough call with some of these choices. There are many players who have had impressive seasons that have missed out but consistency over the entire season has swayed the choice in the final make-up of the side.
Daniel Valcicak – One of the major influences on the change of fortunes for the FNQ Heat. At first glance, strikers would fancy their chances given his short stature but punches well above his weight and got the Heat out of trouble on more than one occasion during the season.
Greg King – Another consistent year for the former Gold Coast United player who while still playing on the left, shifted from a winger to a more defensive left back position and adapted with ultimate professionalism.
Kristian Rees – One of many former A-League players in the NPL this year and proved his quality being a part of a Palm Beach defensive unit that conceded, on average, less than a goal a match.
Matt Byrne- Has been the rock in the centre of the Olympic defence and seemed to be absolutely flawless with his decision making and composure in key moments.
Brock Messenger – The only player from outside the top four to make our team of the year. Not only effective in defence, he regularly pushed up the field providing a vital link to his forwards. His efforts were rewarded with selection in the New Zealand national under 20 side.
Alex Smith – Easily the most influential player for the FNQ Heat and would be our choice for NPL Queensland Player of the Year. His ability in coming up with the right play at the right time and his ability to be absolutely dangerous at set-play free kick opportunities was shown up with a return of 19 goals for the season, including some absolutely sublime strikes.
Justyn McKay – The Palm Beach captain steered the Sharks ship around the pitch, giving no quarter and was very rarely off his game. Whether it was chipping in helping in defence or setting up his forwards, his leadership on the park set the expectation for the rest of his side.
Kazuya Ito – Such is the way he conducts himself, many may not have noticed the way that he quietly goes about his business. A critical link between the defence and attack, his ability to either pinpoint players in better position or back himself placed him as a vital cog in the Olympic system.
Scot Coulson – A break-out year for the 19 year old. His combination with fellow left-sided player Greg King laid the path for a successful Strikers season. Provided impeccable service with his crossing for his partners, Matt Thurtell and Jheison Macuace.
Chris Lucas – Combined with his efforts last year where he excelled in a team that finished down the ladder, he has surely well and truly put his name in lights for bigger things in the future. Second in the Golden Boot with 33 goals, the marksman is a master at finding the right place to be for goal-scoring opportunities and then putting those chances away.
Daniel Dragecevic – Formed a formidable combination with Chris Lucas and provided many an assist for his team mate. Piercing runs down the right, evading defenders, was one of his trademarks.
Brandon Cuminao – Took the number one shirt in a FFA Cup qualifying match against Brisbane Premier League side, Wolves FC, and immediately had tongues wagging. Never looked back when given his chance and was only displaced when he was unavailable due to national schoolboy championship duties. Displayed maturity beyond his 16 years and looks to have a bright future ahead of him
Tamas Maffey-Stumpe – Was stout in the Heat defence with his centre back partner, Josh Jennison who returned from injury mid-season. The Heat leaked plenty of goals early in the season but were able to make the necessary adjustments and become one of the better performing defensive teams.
Terry Hughes – Like a well-oiled machine, continued to get through his work with a minimum of fuss, did what was asked of him while always putting his body on the line for the cause.
Royce Brownlie – Any other year, the Golden Boot winner would have been a lay-down misere for a spot in the starting eleven but it was a narrowly run race between him and Lucas for the centre-forward position.