TIME WAS: THE SHEIK MEDAL 2007

One of the more controversial contributors to the Old Xaverians website in the early days was a mysterious know-it-all who dubbed himself The Sheik. His identity was known only to a few.

Between 2004 and 2008, the Sheik analysed the VAFA A Section and nominated his top 30 players, revised the list mid-season and then again at the the conclusion of the home and away season, when he awarded the Sheik Medal. He ceased that award after claiming that his money was better invested elsewhere. 

"All I got was infamy, abuse and argument," he told oldxavs.com.au in 2009. "Plus, I got sick of blokes from clubs other than Xavs winning it. I was just too knowledgeable and too fair." 

For the record, Uni Blues big man Jack Watts won it in 2008 and we noticed that The Sheik's behaviour became increasingly irrational over the following months.  Today, no-one knows the whereabouts of this once prolific scribe.

This column comes from 2007, the only time a Xavs player did win the Sheik Medal (which by that stage, was more highly sought-after than the VAFA's Woodrow Medal).

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2 Sep 07

THE SHEIK'S 2007 TOP 30

After being passed over for the Imam gig, the Sheik has repented some and returned to his religious roots.  That didn't stop him from following VAFA's A Section with similar devotion.

I have exhausted many tanks of good Middle Eastern oil in search of the Top 30, travelling to each ground, most of them more than once. Just recently I even visited Stradbroke Park, albeit after dark one Sunday night, where I saw a man with a tape measure going about his measuring business. I told myself that this Amateur Football is a strange thing to behold. I did not hang around but went home to watch Big Love on SBS, as it reminds me of the old country where we were allowed many wives.

I heard later that the Xavs planned to play Uni Blues at the mini-stadium, mainly because it is close to Andrew Ralph's house and that guaranteed he would turn up with the beer after the match.

So the regular season is done, but it was anything but regular. Last year's premier Old Haileybury is gone and its coach, man they call Needles or Prickly Pete (Nicholson) is presumably cleaning out his locker. The travel mates of the Bloods are the Dogs of Snow, St Bernard's.  This is a shock, but also a reality. Allah works in mysterious ways and he has condemned these badly behaved infidels to B Section. He is also a forgiving being and he will allow them perhaps one day to emerge from football purgatory, or else fall into the fires forever.

Trinity were only just good enough to stay up for another crack. They lost players like the others, and spent most of the season on death row. Allah has rewarded their fidelity and perseverance.    

What of Scotch? I heard many of their club men predicting an exit for their men, but in the end, they were goodish, or better than the worst. My spies are everywhere and this will be a summer of change for the Red Devils.

De La was the most inconsistent team in the competition, losing games they might have won, stealing games they had every right to lose, while Collegians dominated, lost form, hung on and finally missed the finals.

The Top Four teams I will discuss later, but players from the better teams dominate the Sheik's annual Top 30.  This in itself is not surprising.  However, some of the selections might surprise my readers, none of whom have the in-depth knowledge of my adopted game.

Nineteen of the thirty were on my mid-season list. Only four of those predicted in the pre-season make this list, with just two returning from last year's 2006 Honours List, underlining the ever-changing face of VAFA's top flight.

My top 30 is as follows, listing their positions last year, the pre-season prediction and the 2007 mid-season. 

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Club representation: BRI 5, XAV 5, UBL 4, IVA 3, COL 3, HAI 3, DLS 3, STB 2, TRI 1, SCO 1

THE SHEIK MEDAL: SCHAPELLE HOME!

Ryan Colbert of the Old Xaverians is the winner of the Sheik Medal for the Fairest and Most Brilliant player in VAFA's A Section in 2007.

The long-striding thoroughbred colt (by Colbert out of Weightman) won football's highest individual honour from Old Brighton's David Dawes in a very tight contest.

Colbert is the first Xaverian player to win the Sheik, with previous winners being Alister Neville (TRI 2004), Mark Paterson (UBL 2005) and Heath Hopwood (HAI 2006).

A spokesperson for the Colbert family acknowledged the achievement and said that the family would celebrate same at the appropriate time.

However, Schapelle's brother Leigh Colbert, working for Fox Footy today, could hardly contain his excitement and nearly announced the news on air. He thought better of it when he was warned that Old Xaverian players might refuse to do interviews with him should he break the news prematurely.

Editor's note: Colbert is pictured receiving the medal from The Sheik after training this afternoon.