NAB League Player Focus – Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

HAVING to overcome a knee injury this season, Gippsland Power‘s Bailey Humphrey wasted no time reminding draft watchers and recruiters just how talented the midfielder-forward is for this year’s AFL Draft. Humphrey missed out on the Vic Country hub selection initially, but that soon proved to be a mistake, with the Gippsland Power skipper piecing together three games with multiple goals playing as that hybrid mid-forward in the opening four rounds.

Going down with injury that would see him miss Vic Country’s first three AFL Under 18 Championships matches, it is hoped Humphrey will run out for the ‘Big V’ against the other ‘Big V’. Country takes on Metro in September in an effective grand final, with both sides heading into the clash undefeated. Back on the NAB League, Humphrey’s Power are flying, only dropping one game in 11 matches and looking every bit premiership contenders. On the weekend, Gippsland dominated last placed Northern Knights to the tune of 100 points, with Humphrey earning best afield honours in the win.

Bailey Humphrey
Gippsland Power-logoGippsland PowerMidfielder

Bailey Humphrey

Height: 184cm

Weight: 86kg

DOB: 11-09-2004

Strengths:
Aerial ability
Contested marking
Explosiveness
Power
Scoreboard impact
Versatility
X-Factor
Toughness
Improvements:
Kicking consistency [reference to execution]
Set shot goalkicking
Lowering eyes

SEASON SO FAR

Averages: 7 games | 21.6 disposals (14.1 kicks, 7.5 handballs), 6.1 marks, 5.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s, 2.1 goals (15 total)

A goalkicking midfielder is a player that any club’s fanbase can get around, especially one who could slot in as a permanent forward to start. Too often pure midfielders are forced to learn forward craft and play off a flank early in their careers, but Humphrey already has that ability as a comfortable 50/50 midfielder-forward. With natural power, strong hands and a penetrative kick, Humphrey can do a lot of damage on the scoreboard or through the midfield. Once he can iron out his kicking, including for goal, then Humphrey will take his game to another level again.

2022 NAB League, Round 14
Gippsland Power 20.20 (140) defeated Northern Knights 6.4 (40)

Stats: 31 disposals (18 kicks, 13 handballs), 12 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 4 goals, 5 behinds

FIRST QUARTER

There is always a sense of unknown when a player returns from an extended break due to injury, particularly anything leg or joint related. In Humphrey’s case, one could have been forgiven for thinking the Gippsland Power skipper might start off slow. Instead, Humphrey starting forward and as the Power began to build an early lead, the captain took a strong mark inside 50 on a tight angle. He nailed the set shot goal without any problems whatsoever, signalling what was to come.

Humphrey would show his defensive running too when rolling into the midfield to gain minutes, taking a good mark in defence later in the term. The skipper would have another shot on goal from 50m with a flying attempt, but it went well wide and bounced out of bounds. Despite just the one goal, Humphrey was already looking ominous, and that would prove to be too true as the match went on.

SECOND QUARTER

Just three and a half minutes into the quarter, Humphrey read an inside 50 pass to perfection sliding into space to get down low and take a good mark. Lining up 20m out on a slight angle, Humphrey made no mistake to take his tally to two. He would have another flying shot about 10 minutes later but it would miss to the right to register his first official behind. Learning from that mistake, just two minutes later, he took a strong one-on-one mark using his strength and footy smarts to out-body his opponent and clunk it.

Most importantly, Humphrey converted the set shot well and all of a sudden, he was up to three goals. His accuracy would start to wain though having a flying shot on the goal that bounced out of bounds wide of the behind post. Still, he took a good mark inside 50 to put it to the top of the goalsquare at one point, and was clearly too big and too strong for his direct Knights opponent.

Bailey Humphrey pulls down a mark against three Northern Knights opponents, reading the ball sublimely | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

THIRD QUARTER

The third term was a case of “so close, yet so far” for Humphrey, who certainly had his chances but could not quite make the most of them. His first set shot came just 57 seconds into the match after leading out brilliantly and taking the mark, but his set shot missed to the right. It was a case of rinse and repeat at the three and a half minute mark, with another behind – his third of the day – from a 40m set shot.

Humphrey would add a fourth behind for the game in the term, but it was more his work up the ground during his midfield rotation that really stood out. He was able to hitup a teammate well off his left sidestepping an opponent on his way to goal to assist his teammate inside 50. Similarly at one point, Humphrey won the ball in close, burst away and had the presence of mind to signal to his teammates to come at him, before dishing off the ball at speed under pressure.

FOURTH QUARTER

Like his teammates, Humphrey would enjoy the parade of goals in the final term as the Knights kicked away with a six goals to two final term, matching their six-goal second term down the same end. At one point, Humphrey took a mark against three Knights opponents, just judging it in the air perfectly, keeping his eyes on the ball and clunking it strongly. Unfortunately his set shot from 25m out also went through for a behind – his fifth of the day – in what was definitely his most gettable shot of the behinds.

It would not be long before Humphrey finally ended that run of four straight behinds, taking a great mark over his opponent, reminding said opponent about the fact he was “too small” and then went and slammed home the goal over the goal umpire’s hat to kick his fourth and finish with 4.5 and a couple out of bounds. His midfield work was just as dominant, and Humphrey was a clear best on ground, which would have been almost a record-breaking performance had he kicked straight in front of goal. Still, Humphrey reminded everyone at Morwell of his first round credentials, with a Top 10 draft spot well and truly on the cards for the talented midfield-forward.

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