Pekin, Pay honoured
Harrow-balmoral playing coach Nick Pekin and Noradjuha-quantong defender Brooke Pay are the toast of Horsham District Football Netball League after winning the competition’s premier individual accolades for 2018.
Pekin polled 19 votes to win the Dellar Medal for the senior best and fairest player at a presentation ceremony in Horsham’s Holy Trinity Lutheran College hall on Monday night.
Pekin played 15 of 16 games this season and polled in eight, including four best-on-ground performances.
He won the accolade from Natimuk United coach Sam Anson, who collected 15 votes in 10 matches, with Laharum’s Angus Martin, 14 votes, named best under-21 player.
Pekin is a multiple Wimmera league premiership player and former Vic Country captain. The Dellar Medal is his highest individual honour.
“You don’t play footy for individual accolades but to have one of these medals wrapped around my neck… I’m very proud of that,” Pekin said.
The hard-working midfielder said he believed coaching had brought out the best in him.
“When it comes to things like this you’re only as good as what you’re surrounded by,” he said.
“To be surrounded by 20 good mates – and hopefully we go all the way this Saturday – that certainly helps in playing your best footy.
“While I’m proud of the achievement, like I said, I’d trade this in any day for a premiership medal around my neck.”
Pekin has an opportunity to add a premiership medal on Saturday when his Southern Roos take on Kalkee at Horsham City Oval.
Pekin said he was confident of his side’s chances.
“You’ve got to be confident – if you don’t have confidence there’s no point going in,” he said.
“The boys really deserve it. Some of those guys have played in five losing grand finals over that time. It would be really pleasing and deserving for those guys to win one.”
The A Grade netball count was a thriller, with Pay picking up 26 votes to pip last year’s winner Caitlin Story, of Laharum, by a single vote.
Defenders Casey Vanstan, Natimuk United, and Ebony Salter, Harrowbalmoral, were hot on their heels on 22 votes. Edenhope-apsley defender Alex Lang, 15, won the best under-21 player award.
Pay enjoyed eight best-on-court performances in 2018, polling in 10 of the 13 games she played in.
“You don’t play for accolades but when you put in week after week, to get some recognition is nice,” she said.
Pay thanked her Noradjuha-quantong team-mates and supporters for sticking together through a tough year.
“Our girls have had a year of adversity and I’d say bad luck, but the opportunity to step out on the court each week and keep it together for those girls and act as a leader out there when times were tough is what has made me the player I am this year,” she said.
“Playing netball is about getting out there on the court, being strong, determined women and achieving something together.
“We might not have made finals, but we’ve had a great year.”
Harrow-balmoral also celebrated wins in reserves football, with Ben Deutscher claiming the Richie Dunlop Memorial award for the best-andfairest player.
Deutscher picked up 25 votes to win from Kalkee’s Brendan Hobbs, 25.
Hobbs’ club-mate Jayden Kuhne won the senior leading goal-kicker award on 64 goals, while Harrowbalmoral’s Quentin Willmott topped the reserves count with 59.
Southern Roos midcourter Janelle Knight scored an impressive win in B Grade, triumphing with 26 votes. The race was tight for runner-up honours, with goalies Lucy King, Noradjuhaquantong, and Lana Ellis, Pimpinio, tied on 21 votes.
In C Grade action, Noradjuhaquantong’s Jess Reinheimer went one better than last year, taking out the grade’s top honour. The midcourter polled 26 votes, finishing two votes ahead of Laharum shooter Carmen Dridan.
Pimpinio’s Maree Thompson came out of retirement to win C Reserve, polling 28 votes to win ahead of Harrow-balmoral’s Elizabeth Hage, 24.
League leaders presented several other awards on the night, with Taylors Lake’s Adam Hill and Harrowbalmoral’s Pekin winning coaching awards and Swifts’ Ben Taylor judged best opposition player.
Jenny Kirchner won a distinguished service award, Kalkee’s Heath Martin was administrator of the year and Natimuk United won the 2018 club championship.