By Brendan Rhodes
ASPLEY spearhead Matt Hammelmann believes he is a much better player than the young Brisbane Lions Academy product who managed two goals from 12 AFL matches between 2015-17.
And the star full-forward’s figures back that up at State league level after he dominated his first year in the VFL to win the Jim “Frosty” Miller Medal with 42 goals from just 10 matches – the first player in the competition’s 138-year history to top the goalkicking in a team that won the wooden spoon.
He streeted the field in the truncated season, finishing 11 goals clear of Southport livewire Billy Gowers (31), with Box Hill Hawks spearhead Fergus Greene bouncing back from being delisted by the Western Bulldogs to finish third on 30.
In fact, if the season hadn’t been cut short, he certainly would have become the first player to kick 50 goals in a VFL season since Port Melbourne’s Dean Galea in 2013.
Hammelmann recorded games of 4, 6, 6, 2, 2, 5, 6, 6, 2 and 3 majors to finish with an impressive average of 4.2 goals, and his accuracy was a key feature, kicking just 19 behinds.
He won the Ray Hughson Trophy for the NEAFL’s leading goalkicker in 2018 and 2019 with hauls of 60 and 66 majors while playing for Redland, but both of those performances came in full 18-match seasons at averages of 3.3 and 3.7 goals per game, while he finished second in his last year at the Lions in 2017 with 41 goals in 16 appearances.
It is an upward trajectory that has Hammelmann, who turns 26 just before the start of next season and stands an imposing 197cm and 88kg, believing he is much better prepared if a second chance at the top level was to present itself.
“Obviously I still have big ambitions to play at the higher level,” he said.
“I spent those three years at the Lions and I don’t think I made the most of my opportunities, but four years down the track now, I’m a bit older, more experienced with playing with more weight under me, I’m definitely a different player to what I was at Brisbane.”
Hammelmann has now kicked 243 goals in 98 matches at State league level after 201 in 88 games for the Lions, Redland and Aspley in an era where stay-at-home full forwards are no longer that common, but he has been much more deadly in clubs that have built their game plan around giving the spearhead the best opportunity to do his thing – and he is the first to hand credit to his midfielders further up the ground.
“Coming into the year I was pretty confident with the group we had and the gameplan to allow me to play to my strengths, it obviously wasn’t the year we could have hoped for as a club, but I was pretty happy with how I went personally,” he said.
“I got a bit of a free rein as to how I wanted to position myself inside 50 so I was getting a lot of shots in good positions, which helped my accuracy.
“We started (the season) really well with the first quarter (10 goals against Port Melbourne) but after that a couple of games didn’t go our way and we lost a bit of confidence in what we were doing.
“(Winning the medal for the bottom team) shows that we weren’t too far away as a team, we were competitive but just couldn’t quite get the wins on the board.
“I’m very lucky to have won a third (consecutive) leading goalkicker medal, but it’s more for my teammates who have the confidence to kick me the ball and for me to create a contest and finish the work they have done up the field.”
Hammelmann admitted frustration at Aspley’s withdrawal from the VFL, the second season in a row his club has opted out of State league after Redland elected not to join the competition this year, saying in a perfect world he would love to stay at the level with the Hornets.
But with his ambitions to still play at the highest level, he has been fielding plenty of calls from clubs across the country and was weighing up the possibility of moving interstate to keep that dream alive.
“Living in Brisbane the (NEAFL) competition was seen as being a bit below that of VFL and SANFL, so to join the VFL was very exciting for us up in Queensland,” he said.
“It is disappointing trying to get a pathway for the kids to come through and play at a good standard, and now it’s probably going to be topping up for the Lions if you’re in Brisbane and want to play at the next standard.
“(Relocating is) definitely something I’ll consider, whether that is a move to Victoria or the SANFL, but I haven’t quite made a decision yet as to what path I’m going to go down.
“I just finished uni this year, so it is another big thing I have to factor in. I’ve only just started working full-time in the past six weeks, so that’s another thing I have to consider as well.
“Obviously I’d love to stay at Aspley and in the VFL, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that and I’ve got a pretty big decision coming up to make for next year.”
The VFL/VFLW Awards Ceremony, featuring the Lambert-Pearce Medal for the VFLW best-and-fairest and all other awards, will be streamed on vfl.com.au from 6.30pm on Thursday, October 7.
2021 JIM “FROSTY” MILLER MEDAL
42: Matt Hammelmann (Asp)
31: Billy Gowers (Sou)
30: Fergus Greene (Box)
29: Ben Crocker (Car)
26: Mitch Johnson (Sou)
25: Josh Jenkins (Gee)
23: Emerson Jeka (Box)
23: Connor Nutting (Sou)
22: Peter McEvoy (Cob)
21: Sam Weideman (Cas)
JIM “FROSTY” MILLER MEDAL HONOURBOARD (inaugurated 1999)
2021: Matt Hammelmann (Asp) 42
2019: Jordan Lisle (PM) 40
2018: Nick Larkey (NM) 41
2017: Jordan Lisle (PM) 46
2016: Ahmed Saad (Cob) 49
2015: Sam Grimley (Box), Jordan Lisle (PM), Liam McBean (Ric) 42
2014: Daniel Connors (Ric), Sam Grimley (Box) 38
2013: Dean Galea (PM) 55
2012: Dean Galea (PM) 65
2011: Patrick Rose (PM) 79
2010: Matthew Little (Wil) 80
2009: Nick Sautner (San) 71
2008: Nick Sautner (San) 74
2007: Nick Sautner (San) 79
2006: Aaron Edwards (Fra) 100
2005: James Podsiadly (Wer) 68
2004: Nick Sautner (San) 77
2003: Nick Sautner (Nor) 82
2002: Nick Sautner (Fra) 93
2001: Nick Sautner (Fra) 77
2000: Nick Sautner (San) 70
1999: Nick Sautner (San) 89