IN what was a surprise to some, North Gambier’s Michael Telford claimed the coveted Brian Hennessy Medal for best and fairest A Grade player in the Western Border Football League at the season awards at Island Park, Casterton Monday night.
It was a consistent effort which saw Telford poll regularly throughout the season as the Tigers pushed for a shot at premiership glory this weekend.
The A Grade netball honours saw East Gambier’s Tenille Gray claim back-to-back best and fairests, with a strong effort throughout the season that sees the Bulldogs also with a chance of premiership glory.
Telford’s honour would not have been a surprise to some of his teammates, who were the recipients of his possessions through the midfield.
However, he was almost in a state of shock after the count had concluded and found it hard to process the result.
He said he expected the likes of coach Justin McConnell and Nick McInerney to take most of the limelight for the Tigers after he had an up and down season, while Casterton Sandford’s Will Macdonald was his favourite for the overall honours.
“I thought at the start of the year I was going well, then at interleague I hurt my ankle,” he said.
“I didn’t miss any games, but carried the injury for about four or five rounds.
“After that I built into a better last half of the season.”
As the count panned out it was clear Telford would be around the top of the leaderboard and with 14 rounds gone he was in a strong position, tied in first place with Casterton Sandford’s Tom Sullivan.
Sullivan would eventually tie for second place with fellow Cat Macdonald.
At that stage of the night Telford received a text from his mum to enquire about how he was going.
While sending a response he polled more votes and took the lead.
“Justin tapped me on the shoulder and said I looked alright,” Telford said.
“I was shocked to start polling well and be up the top end of the count.”
South Gambier’s Bronson Saffin finished third, while West Gambier’s Lawry Bradley-Brown – an early favourite for the honours – finished in fourth place.
Bradley-Brown was awarded with The Border Watch/Intersport Player of the Year honours from this newspaper after a solid first half of the season.
While his latter rounds were somewhat quieter, he held off a late charge from Macdonald to claim the honours.
Best Under 21 player went to Roo Tom Zeitz, along with backman of the year.
McConnell claimed the goal kicking honours.
Gray clearly claimed the best Under 21 player for the netball honours, while West’s Emily Hunter was dubbed the recruit of the year after her runner-up effort and most consistent award.
Millicent’s Demi Verbena finished third.
The most improved netball club went to West Gambier, while the champion club was awarded to Millicent.
Life memberships were also handed out, with 12-time premiership player, Saint Hayley Dunn receiving the honours for netball, while Brent Howard was recognised for his work across a few teams, but predominantly with South Gambier.
The Reserves football honour went to West Gambier’s Brodie Parsons, ahead of Millicent’s Jeremy Hales.
Millicent’s Frazer Bradley claimed the Under 18 award, from Casterton Sandford’s Adam McKinnon.
The Under 16 honours went to West’s Ba Nay Say, with North’s William Thompson and South’s Jake Walker tied for second place, while the Under 14 went to North’s Kaidyn Weber, from fellow Tiger Deacon Ilsley.
In other media awards Macdonald claimed the Triple M Footballer of the Year, East’s Tully Balshaw the Triple M Best Team Man and the Farmer Phil Scanlon Rookie of the Year went to West’s Reid Kuller.
The Western Footballer of the Year went to Macdonald, while the Di and Norm Facey Champion Club of the Year was won by North Gambier.
In other netball awards North’s Ailie Flett claimed the A Reserve honours ahead of South’s Brandi Bouchier, Cat Jan Murphy the B Grade from fellow Cat Lorree Lane and South’s Charlene Riley the C Grade from the East pair of Nicola Smith and Keeley Amy.