Freelance photojournalist and prolific SA country football writer Peter Argent, along with state selector and Murray South East Regional Director Scott Duncan and SA Country coach Steve Lubke, undefeated for four years during this period, have spent the off season selecting the unofficial SA Country Team of the Decade (2010-2019), brought to you courtesy of Think! Road Safety.
The team will be revealed in a four-part series, starting this week with the ruck and centre line.
By Peter Argent
Looking back on an impressive past 10 years of SA country representative football, the honorary SA Country Team of the Decade is a celebration of the best of the best country footballers who donned SA Country’s traditional red, blue and gold from 2010 to 2019.
The side’s engine room is led by Luke “Billy” Wells in first ruck, with a power-packed contingent of on-ballers – classy left-footer Xavier Watson and the tenacious Josh Vick, both starting in the centre square, alongside the robust skipper of the side, Brian Fenton.
A key component of giving this team run and drive are the classy Reece Francis and the mercurial dual sporting talent Simon Berkefeld on the wings.
Wells started the decade with the Tanunda Magpies and was known for his quality tap work and ability to find the ball and take marks around the ground in general play.
At the last Australian Country Football Championships in Wagga in 2012, Wells collected All-Australian honours and shared the Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Associations top individual honour, the Schluter medal, with SA teammate Sam Agars and Kapunda’s Jason MacKenzie.
He moved to the Southern Saints in the neighbouring Northern Eastern competition in 2019 and showed his still a dominant performer.
From United Yeelanna Football Club, smooth-moving and elegant left-footer Xavier Watson’s ability to win the football and create and hit targets was exquisite.
Josh Vick was your typical feisty and cheeky first rover, who had SANFL League experience at South Adelaide.
Among a host of achievements, Vick led SA Country to glory as captain in the inaugural interstate clash against WA country at Football Park in 2011.
Tough, aggressive and loving the contest, Brian Fenton was a lynchpin of the Murray South East successes in the middle of the decade.
A leader of men who played with plenty of passion, Fenton captained the state country team whilst playing at the Meningie Bears.
Also a mercurial basketball talent, Simon Berkefeld – who displayed his sublime skills with the oval shaped ball – spent the first portion of this decade at South Gambier before travelling up the Riddoch Highway and dominating at the Penola Eagles.
Berkefeld commanded a position on a wing, first playing for SA Country in 2012 in Wagga, and, aside from when unavailable due to injury, was one of the first selected in SA Country representative teams.
Originally from the Adelaide Plains, cool and composed Reece Francis won the position on the other wing. A regular Country Championships contributor, Francis played a handful of SANFL League games with Central District before moving west, having a stellar career with Tasman in the Port Lincoln Football League, along with strong and consistent performances at Country Championships and State country level.
Next week: SA Country Team of the Decade forward line
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