Top Eight: Hidden Gems of Southern Footy
Hidden Gems – a term we use here to describe those players that, for various reasons, seem to fly under the radar. Whether it's because they are a role player, a little injury prone or simple a defender, there are many footballers that don't receive the limelight they deserve – so, we're here to change that.
Using our own research and nominations from others, we have put together the top eight hidden gems from the Southern Football League and the Great Southern Football League. Some may sound completely new – others are known but still don't receive as much praise as they should.
(There are no honourable mentions since there will be Part 2 and Part 3.)
#8 – Caitlin Radbone (Willunga, Great Southern)
Kicking off the list with arguably the most well-known player of this bunch, Caitlin Radbone's accolades from 2021 alone include a spot in our MWM GSFLW Team of the Year and an Open Women's GSFLW Premiership Medallion – yet this fine example of a rebounding defender seems to still fly under the radar.
The dashing defender is one of those players that does receive some limelight – but it is way less than what she deserves.
#7 – Colbie Frankland (Yankalilla, Great Southern)
A knee injury cut short this Yankalilla midfielder's 2021 season but, prior to it, she was one of the more consistent names within our GSFLW Team of the Week. Having spent time with Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFLW and time as a leader with Willunga – the injured Tiger is just raring for her chance to return to the field.
#6 - Courtney Gutschmidt (Willunga, Great Southern)
We know what you're thinking, another GSFLW player? – yes we know, but Courtney stormed onto the scene during the 2021 season and left us scrambling to see where she came from. Turns out, this talented defender is actually a basketball convert, which makes excited to think about how great she may become as she gets more games under her belt.
#5 – Bridie Nye (Port Noarlunga, Southern)
A former Willunga junior and GSFLW Association Representative turned inaugural Port Noarlunga player, Bridie Nye has collected some impressive accolades to her name – but she still has managed to fly under the radar. This crafty player was one of the more consistent names from Port Noarlunga that made our SFLW Team of the Week series this year.
#4 – Emily Franklin (Reynella, Southern)
Emily Franklin, a young gun centre half-forward from Reynella that has enjoyed a breakout season during 2021. Having made our SFLW Team of the Week several times this season, Emily topped off a stellar local season with a selection into South Adelaide's Under 16s side – meaning it's only a matter of time before this hidden gem finds herself in the limelight.
#3 – Courtney Mesecke (Strathalbyn, Great Southern)
This Strathalbyn Rooster was one of the few players that we could always rely on to impress during the 2021 season – with Courtney Mesecke's year including a spot in the GSFLW Association Side and a selection into our GSFLW Team of the Year.
#2 – Emma Sjoberg (Flagstaff Hill, Southern)
One of the highlights for us this SFLW season was the development of the versatile Falcon, Emma Sjoberg. She seemingly come out of nowhere, took us by surprise, then continued to get better and better with each passing week. This all equated to her becoming one of the most consistent Falcons to make our Team of the Week – which is saying a lot considering Flagstaff Hill's list.
We are certain that we won't be taken by surprise again, but we hope we are wrong.
#1 – Lily Lee (Christies Beach, Southern)
Knee injuries – one of the worst yet common injuries that a player can suffer and, for our number one pick for southern footy's hidden gem, we have selected a young gun that has had a terrible run with them. Joining the Saints in 2017, Lily Lee quickly flourished in footy – winning back-to-back school premierships and becoming a team-favourite at Christies Beach.
Turns out that the best was yet to come, as 2020 was a breakout season for the young Saint, with Lily gaining the U18s Co-Captaincy, a senior SFLW debut, and the Best Team Player award but unfortunately – it also signalled the start of her terrible run of knee injuries.
She comes in at number one because, simply, if she sticks with it and stays off the injury list, she won't stay a hidden gem for much longer.
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Special thanks to all those who nominated players for this list.
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