With the Illawarra Premier League finals now in full swing, who has earned the right to be named in the Mercury's team of the season?
This squad has been selected over the course of the 22 game regular season. The team of the year has been spread quite evenly amongst the clubs.
A total of 16 players have been selected. The starting 11 plus five on the bench. A coach of the year has also been picked.
There are seven out of the 12 IPL teams represented, with four from league champions Albion Park, four from Cringila, three from Wollongong Olympic, two from Coniston and one apiece from Wollongong United, Bulli and Helensburgh.
Can you guess who they are? Find out below who has made the 2023 Mercury IPL team of the season, in a four-four-two formation.
GK. Hayden Durose (APWE)
It has been a smooth transition from NPL football back to the IPL for Albion Park stopper Hayden Durose.
The imposing figure at the back was key at the Wolves before moving on from state league football to sign under George Antoniou at the White Eagles.
Durose is vocal and simply the best shot stopper in the competition. The former Olympic man was one of a number of signings at APWE in 2023 but perhaps the most important for the club on their way to the premiership.
RB. Blake McGinn (APWE)
Another White Eagles player straight into the team. Blake McGinn has shown his tenacity at the back but is also crucial for Park's forward play from that right-back spot.
Never shying away from a challenge, there is a bit of 'old-fashioned' about the former Wolves player with enough attacking flare to help his team try and score.
McGinn has had plenty experience with state league sides the Wolves, APIA, Rockdale and Macarthur and he has put all he has learned at those clubs into practise for APWE.
Like Durose, he was a key cog to Albion Park's league championship and he will have his eyes firmly set on Cringila this weekend for a spot in the grand final at WIN Stadium.
CB. Jonah Kalmanidis (Cringila)
Jonah Kalmanidis has been a leader at the back in a young side that has worked under coach Jorge De Matos for some time.
Like other Lions players, Kalmanidis started under De Matos in the Wollongong United youth and reserve grade ranks before moving to Cringila for regular first grade minutes.
The central defender has shone and has never looked out of place coming up against some of the best strikers in the league.
It is a testament to how Cringila play under De Matos and not only that but the hard work and determination from Kalmanidis over the years as he made his way through into first grade.
Partnering alongside James Carli in the heart of defence and with other youngsters Andre Dias and Ekoue D'almeida beside them in the fullback roles, the entire Cringila defence has been on-song with just 20 goals conceded - the best in the league.
This has been driven by Kalmanidis.
CB. Nick Littler (Olympic)
From the youth of Kalmanidis to the experience of Olympic's Nick Littler.
He needs no introduction. He was one of Luke Wilkshire's best at the Wolves in 2022 and made the move to the IPL to play under Matt Bailey and the grand final winners.
He shows every bit of class on the field and alongside Mark Every he looks even more formidable.
Littler is able to step out and skip that first line of defence and contribute to his team as a deep lying play maker.
He will be a real asset for the finals series as Olympic look to keep their dream of back to back grand final wins alive when they face Coniston in a must win game.
LB. Brendan Low (Olympic)
Brendan Low is calm and assured on the ball at left-back.
The fullback has a lethal left peg and has an eye for that killer pass which has undone so many of Olympic's opposing teams this season.
CM. Mitsuo Yamada (Wollongong United)
Mitsuo Yamada really is one of the IPL's rare commodities. The Japanese import is so crucial to that Wollongong United midfield.
Technically, he is one of the most gifted in the region and if he weren't in the side United simply wouldn't be the same.
The 29-year-old is the first name opposition coaches think of when coming up against United. They plan how they are going to narrow down his passing options and mark him out of the game entirely. But this is usually done to no avail, such is the intelligence of Yamada.
CM. Harrison Taranto (Cringila)
A first season in the IPL and Harrison Taranto hasn't put a foot wrong.
After playing at the Wolves lower grades for a number of seasons, Taranto was given limited first grade opportunities in the NPL in 2022. This season, he moved to Cringila under De Matos and he has been allowed to thrive.
He is the link between the defence and the attack and the young midfielder has dictated the play in the centre of the field with an experienced head in Ben Zucco beside him.
Taranto is always one of if not the most energetic players on the field every match. You would love to have a distance tracker on him to see how many kilometres he chalks up.
But he has really made that position his own for the Lions.
RW. Tynan Diaz (Olympic)
An experienced head now but Tynan Diaz has popped up at so many crucial moments for Olympic this season.
And it is no surprise that he is in this team of the season. He has done it on the national stage for APIA when his goal helped knock out A-League side Western Sydney from the Australia Cup and for Matt Bailey he is such a crucial cog in attack.
He has contributed seven goals in the regular season and another from the spot in the qualifying final against Cringila. The goals that he scores are crucial in the context of the games as well, most notably Olympic's second against leaders Albion Park.
LW. Tobias Norval (Coniston)
On the other wing of this team is Coniston's first entry so far, Tobias Norval.
He is no stranger to spectacular goals, case in point below against Tarrawanna in round 16...
He has been simply on fire in attack for Franc Pierro's side and will need to be at his best against if Coniston's season is to continue with an elimination final around the corner against Olympic.
A 10 goal return in the regular season and he also scored the opener against Bulli in the first game of finals.
CF. Peter Simonoski (Cringila)
Now for the two easiest picks of this team - the two strikers - starting with Cringila captain Peter Simonoski.
Quite simply, Simonoski could still be playing NPL football. He is a gun. And to score 31 goals in a regular season is simply frightening. Bulli's Ben McDonald must feel somewhat hard done by after scoring 30 and not winning the golden boot (spoiler, he is the second striker in this team of the year).
The former Wolves and Sydney United forward is the one that finishes off all the chances for the Lions. And as he showed against Olympic in the qualifying final, he is not looking like slowing down with two goals against the defending grand final winners.
A true leader from the front.
CF. Ben McDonald (Bulli)
Ben McDonald is a household name in the IPL but he has gone and done it again with 30 goals.
As mentioned, only Simonoski has usurped him, but he is the reason Bulli made the top five. Without his goals Bulli would not have gone close.
The skipper holds the ball up so well and allows players like Lewis Grimshaw, Sam Adnum and Jarvis Paterson to run in behind.
Nikola Ristevski (Cringila)
The goalkeeper who has been part of the league's best defence. Nikola Ristevski - similar to starting stopper in this team Durose - is a commanding figure at the back and a loud voice of reason behind the Lions.
He has kept 10 clean sheets this season which has been massive in seeing the Lions finish second on the table.
Sensational distribution and his large presence in goals are some of his best attributes.
Brendan Fordham (APWE)
Brendan Fordham has been crucial to the Albion Park defence and he is also so versatile with the ability to play midfield.
A natural leader, these qualities have shone through in a title winning year for the White Eagles. This was capped off with selection as captain of the Australian Indigenous football team to host the Aotearoa Moaris in a three-Test series in Queensland in July.
It was the third year that he has been selected for the side and the second time as skipper.
In his fourth season at Albion Park, a league championship was very much deserved.
Daniel Loe (Coniston)
Daniel Loe has been an extremely solid outfit in the heart of the Coniston defence.
When Franc Pierro took over at the helm midway through the season, the team was built around the likes of Loe. He is physical but also a modern day centre-half with effective distribution.
Kade Kinsella (Helensburgh)
If you would have offered Kade Kinsella 16 goals in Helensburgh's return to the Premier League he would have taken in with no hesitation.
But in a step up from the District League, Kinsella finished equal third with Cameron Morgan in the scoring lists. A sensational achievement.
Cameron Morgan (APWE)
A usual suspect in the IPL has delivered again. Cameron Morgan had a solid return with 16 goals and was key to Albion Park winning the league by 12 points.
He has such lightning pace up top and sensational technical skill. He has been doing it for Park for a while now but he does not look like slowing down, still being in his late 20s.
Coach. George Antoniou (APWE)
In his return from a coaching hiatus, George Antoniou has proven he is one of the most successful IPL coaches in recent memory.
By his own admission he would have deemed finals a decent first season, but the White Eagles blitzed the competition.
Antoniou knows how to get the best out of his players and instills this belief in them that they are the best.
Him and the White Eagles have simply clicked in 2023.