Over the coming weeks, North Media will analyse the 2021 seasons of every player on the list.
To see all the reviews so far, click here
33. Patrick Walker
With all the improvement of North Melbourne’s young core this season, it can be argued nobody improved across the entirety of the season as much as Patrick Walker.
Drafted with the second selection of the rookie draft, the young Tasmanian arrived at North with a reputation as an elite kicking, gut-running half back flanker.
While he impressed in his natural position early in the season, a move onto the wing brought the best out of Walker, with his massive tank allowing him to not only support the defence, but supplement the attack.
As the VFL season progressed and he adapted to his new role, Walker found it easier to accumulate the football while not sacrificing his efficiency by foot, making him a dangerous threat moving forward.
He finished with 25 disposals and 7 marks in the Round 10 victory over Coburg and 21 disposals in the Round 12 defeat to Footscray.
His best performance of the season came in the Round 16 victory over Port Melbourne, where he collected 22 disposals and finished with a well-taken goal.
Highly rated by the North coaching staff, Walker was named as an emergency for the Round 17 clash against West Coast, and was a strong chance for a Round 23 debut before suffering an ankle injury.
After a huge debut season of improvement at reserve level, it looks like North may have found a diamond in the rough in Patrick Walker, but time will tell whether he can continue his current rapid, upwards trajectory.
The coaches said:
“He’s improved out of sight from the start of the season. He’s got a great capacity to run, so we know that will translate well to AFL level. From the start of the season to the end of the season his football was going forward. He moved from half back to the wing in the VFL, and his last six or seven games were really, really good. Unfortunately he did hurt his ankle in the last training session and who knows if he’d have played or not, but he was definitely very close to getting some senior football.” - Brent Harvey (development coach).
34. Charlie Ham
North Melbourne’s second selection in the mid-season draft, Charlie Ham came into the club off the back of a strong start to the NAB League campaign with the Geelong Falcons.
A classy, left-footed defender, Ham certainly brings the pace and composure to the back half of the ground that David Noble so publicly desires.
With strong endurance and clean hands, he is capable of not only launching attacks from the back line, but also shows the potential to be an intercept machine.
Coming into North’s VFL side for the second half of the year, Ham showed signs of adapting to North Melbourne’s game plan, and looked more comfortable with every game he played.
An ankle injury against Footscray halted his progress, however he returned to fitness and training before the end of the AFL season, despite the cancellation of the VFL.
After arriving mid-season, Ham will be hopeful of securing a contract extension as he looks to build on his promising start at North Melbourne.
After the heartbreak of missing out on selection in the 2020 draft, Charlie Ham continued to apply himself at NAB League level and ultimately earned himself a spot on North Melbourne’s list.
The coaches said:
“It was tricky for him coming in at the halfway mark of the year. You come in not knowing many people, but he had Charlie Lazzaro to lean on. It’s always going to be hard coming in and making an impact, but he gelled with the group really well from the very start, the boys love him. He’s a good kick, he’s got a beautiful technique on his left foot but he probably has to work on his decision making a bit more, but he slotted into the VFL side at half back and played some decent football as well.” - Brent Harvey (development coach).
35. Charlie Lazzaro
10 games, 3 goals; 9.6 disposals, 2.6 marks, 2.1 tackles, 2.9 score involvements per game.
A fast and hard-working midfield/forward option, Charlie Lazzaro impressed in a number of roles over the course of his debut season.
The 36th selection in the NAB AFL Draft, he made his debut as the medical sub in Round 1 against Port Adelaide, and ended the game with more bounces than kicks, such is his penchant for taking the game on.
Most often utilised on the wing or half-forward flank at senior level, Lazzaro played a part in nine of the first ten games of the season before his omission to the VFL side.
Returning for Round 18 against the Bombers, he showed vast improvement in his positioning and application around the contest.
At VFL level, he was often used as an inside midfielder, with his quick hands and strong composure lending itself well to the different role.
He had little problem finding the football at reserve level, finishing with 29 disposals and a goal against Footscray, and 26 disposals and a goal against Port Melbourne.
A level-headed and likeable personality off the field, ‘Lizard’ is the perfect example of drafting not just for footballing ability, but for culture fit, stating he’s “royal blue and white for life” in a Member Q & A earlier in the season.
Having fully bought into North’s culture, another pre-season should see him add further strength and athleticism to his game to supplement his pace and work-ethic, allowing him to build on the hugely promising signs of his first season.
Round 10 v Essendon
14 disposals, 92.9 per cent efficiency, 4 marks, 2 intercepts, 6 score involvements.
While it was a difficult day for North Melbourne, Charlie Lazzaro’s first senior goal showcased what North fans love about his game.
Taking the game on through the middle of the ground, and running away from one of the competition’s best in Marcus Bontempelli, Lazzaro steadied himself to kick a brilliant goal on the run.
The fans said:
Charlie Lazzaro is a beauty. Heart and balls. Could easily be a +100-game player for North— Dickie Rock (@SteveBakewood) April 2, 2021
The coaches said:
“It’s going to be a big pre-season and season for Charlie. We saw some really good things from him over the year. He’s got great pace and really good speed. He kicked a great goal against the Bulldogs where he ran out of the centre and took a bounce. You see that and you think ‘yep, this kid has it’. Once he gets another pre-season under his belt and gets in the gym a little bit, I can see him playing a big role for us across half forward and kicking a few spectacular goals along the way. I’m very excited about Charlie.” - Brent Harvey (development coach).
36. Phoenix Spicer
1 game; 7 disposals, 2 score involvements, 1 intercept.
A player that oozes class and x-factor, Phoenix Spicer spent much of his 2021 season honing his craft in the VFL.
An impressive final quarter against Hawthorn in the AAMI Community Series set tongues wagging, with North Melbourne fans keen to see the development and improvement of the first year forward at reserve level.
Even with a hamstring injury disrupting his campaign, Spicer showed the application and development to be rewarded with debut in the final week of the season, taking his place in the 22 against Adelaide.
Initially drafted from South Australia, the clash acted as something of a homecoming for the young forward, who was handed the opportunity to play in front of friends and family.
Always looking to take the game on and escape his direct opponent, Spicer is also capable of playing on the wing, however he doesn’t need much of the football to be able to break games open.
After earning his introduction to the top level of the game, Spicer should attack the 2022 pre-season with ferocity and hunger in order to earn more chances at senior level in the coming year.
After a season of hard work and improvement, Phoenix Spicer was justly rewarded with a Round 23 debut, with North legend Lindsay Thomas announcing the news via video message.
The coaches said:
“He’s a really quiet boy, Phoenix. He came in and looked really exciting on the training track. He was moved up onto the wing in the VFL and he found more of the ball, and as the year went on he got a bit more confidence to use his elite attributes, which are his kicking and his pace. It was awesome to see him win a debut and to see the smile on his face. That’s going to give him enormous confidence going into the pre-season, and knowing where he is and how hard AFL is compared to VFL, he’ll lift his training standards again because that’s just what happens in your second year. The fact he’s got a taste for it, it’s going to make him really hungry. I can see him doing some very exciting things.” - Brent Harvey (development coach).