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11 September 2019
By Colin MacGillivray
It was a history-making night at Horsham District Football Netball League’s best and fairest vote count on Monday, with a three-way tie in the senior football Dellar Medal for only the second time in the league’s history.
Harrow-Balmoral coach Nick Pekin was recognised as the league’s best for a second straight season after winning the award outright in 2018, but shared the honours with Edenhope-Apsley duo Jak Ryan and Lachie Middleton this season.
It was a thrilling count for those trying desperately to tally the votes in the final few rounds, with Rupanyup’s Elliot Kelly finishing one vote back from the leaders on 18 and Jeparit-Rainbow coach Daniel Batson, Natimuk United coach Sam Anson and Harrow-Balmoral onballer Eric Guthrie tied on 17.
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Swifts co-coach Scott Carey led the way for most of the count before a late-season leg injury stranded him on 16 votes and cost him a chance to add another Dellar Medal to his first from 2017. The league has only seen one other three-way tie since the award began in 1950, with Noradjuha-Quantong’s Marcus Anson, Kalkee’s Scott Batchelor and Rupanyup’s Jarrod Wood splitting the award in 2002.
“I’m totally shocked just because of the calibre of players we’ve got,” Pekin said.
“Eric and I were both stealing votes off each other at the end. I’m very surprised, but I’m honoured and proud to be standing here alongside Jak and having ‘Middsy’, both from Edenhope-Apsley, winning it.
“But as I said last year, I’ll trade it in any day of the week because I’m all for the premiership.”
Pekin will get a chance to capture back-to-back flags to complement his Dellar medals when Harrow-Balmoral takes on Noradjuha-Quantong in Saturday’s grand final at Horsham City Oval.
Edenhope-Apsley was eliminated by the Bombers in the preliminary final but has the consolation of celebrating two league champions.
Ryan, a hulking ruckman, paid tribute to the Saints’ onball division for his success.
“Middsy has been pretty good all year and made me look good,” he said.
“Without Middsy and the other onballers, I’d just be a big doofus tapping the ball out of midair.
“I couldn’t tap it to a better bloke. He definitely works hard for it; even when getting tagged he still pushes through it.”
Ryan will depart for a coaching role with Western Border Football League club South Gambier next season, but said the Saints would always be his home club.
Middleton was absent from the count with work commitments in Geelong, but his medal and trophy were collected by his father.
The A Grade count was also a thriller, with Kalkee goalie Jenna Bywaters fending off a strong field of competitors to win by one vote from Harrow-Balmoral coach Ebonie Salter.
Laharum midcourter Zandria Malone led the field with three rounds remaining, but best-on-court performances from Bywaters in rounds 16 and 17 were just enough for her to secure the trophy.
Malone finished tied for third with Natimuk United’s Casey Vanstan on 26, three votes behind Bywaters and two behind Salter.
Bywaters said she was thoroughly enjoying netball in her second season with the Kees, but never expected to win the award.
“I thought Ebonie would definitely win,” she said.
“It was pretty shocked. I didn’t expect to poll so well.
“I think my table was trying to keep count at the end and I was a little bit nervous.”
Bywaters said she expected most the of the team that qualified for this season’s finals to return in 2020.
“We’ve improved heaps from last year, so hopefully we can all stick together next year and go a little bit further in finals,” she said.
Noradjuha-Quantong ruckman Jordan McDonald was in disbelief when he won the Richie Dunlop Memorial trophy as the league’s reserves football best and fairest.
McDonald polled 20 votes to win by two from a three-way tie between Harrow-Balmoral’s Quentin Willmott, Jeparit-Rainbow’s 600-game veteran Steven Murphy and Kalkee’s Brendan Hobbs in second.
The B Grade netball award went to former Kalkee A Grade coach Melissa Beddison by one vote from Edenhope-Apsley’s Edwina Hare.
The C Grade trophy went to Noradjuha-Quantong’s Porsha Jorgenson, 21 votes, ahead of Natimuk United’s Shelly Stockdale, 19, and Swifts’ Tania Crawford, 22, claimed the C Reserve trophy from Laharum’s Olivia Smith, 18.
Several other awards were presented on the night, including a distinguished service award to league chairman Graeme King, best opposition player awards to Natimuk United’s Sam Anson and Rupanyup’s Elliot Kelly, and the 2019 club championship for cumulative votes across all grades to Harrow-Balmoral.
The entire September 11, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!