Chris Thompson...a handy inclusion in recent weeks

Chris Thompson...a handy inclusion in recent weeks

By Gary Stocks
The climax to the WA Amateur Football League A-Grade season would create a ratings bonanza if a television network had the broadcast rights to the competition.
The permutations of winning – and losing – over the closing two rounds of this competition could hardly be more dramatic. There is not a position on the ladder that has been locked in place, other than the bottom rung, which has belonged to Hamersley-Carine all year and will see them return to B-Grade in 2013 after a fleeting visit to the top tier.
Over the next two weekends, finals positions, places within the top five and relegation all go on the line.
Remarkably eight teams remain in contention for the top five. Trinity-Aquinas sits atop the ladder and one win over the next fortnight will guarantee it remains in that position to earn a week’s break in the first round of finals.
University is the only club with any chance of unseating them, should TAs stumble in the run to the line and the worst case scenario for students will see them with a double-chance come finals as they cannot be displaced from a top three standing.
Behind them it gets interesting. Real interesting. And North Beach is in the thick of mid-table log-jam.
The Beach leap-frogged Collegians into third spot last week, courtesy of victory against Hamersley-Carine, on a day Collegians were defeated by Trinity-Aquinas. The benefits of holding onto that position are obvious, with a double chance in the finals available, but facing an elimination final if they slip further down the table.
While Collegians and the Beach will fight for that double chance in the last two matches, the heat is really on for the bottom place in the top five.
Mt Lawley currently occupies that position courtesy of a percentage advantage over Whitford while Maddington, which not so long ago was in the battle to avoid relegation, is now in the finals frame, just four points adrift of those clubs.
Maddington plays Hamersley-Carine, who have just a solitary win this season, in the penultimate round this Saturday, meaning they are likely to remain in contention going into the final game at home against University.
Conversely, Swan Athletic, who looked safe with regards to remaining in A-Grade just a few weeks ago, are now in eighth position, just four points and about 4.5% ahead of North Fremantle.
A couple of weeks ago the Maggies were celebrating a magnificent win against Collegians, which they might have considered had staved off the relegation threat, but then word of a Maddington upset over TAs dampened that enthusiasm.
Interest will remain in this enthralling climax until the final whistle in the last qualifying game of round 18 on Saturday week and makes for an exhilarating precursor to what will be an equally engrossing finals series.
The two top teams, Trinity Aquinas and defending premiers University, would appear to be the front-runners at this stage, but the season has been prone to more than the occasional twist and we should expect more in the closing rounds.
Can North Beach provide the first of them, by beating University at McGillivray Oval (UWA Sports Park) this Saturday?
The Beach has recalled tough midfielder Matt Power and uncompromising defender Ryan Underwood for this contest, with Liam Vardy and James Lee (quad) making way for them.