Win­ners ga­lore

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

An ex­cit­ing and rare three-way foot­ball tie and con­fir­ma­tion of a bur­geon­ing net­ball tal­ent high­lighted a big night of sport­ing cel­e­bra­tion in Hor­sham.

In a shock Wim­mera Foot­ball League best and fairest vote count, three play­ers – from Ararat, Hor­sham and War­rack Ea­gles – won the P. J. Toohey Medal.

Mid­field stars Dan Men­des from Ararat and Nick Peters, War­rack Ea­gles, and Hor­sham for­ward Ryan Kemp all polled 20 votes to share Wim­mera foot­ball’s high­est in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lade.

It was only the sec­ond time in league his­tory there has been a three-way tie.

The pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion was in 1987 when An­drew Johns, Hor­sham, Dar­ren Lloyd, Minyip, and Tony Beck, Stawell, had the ex­pe­ri­ence.

All three play­ers polled ex­actly the same type of votes, with five threes, two twos, and soli­tary one votes. This meant that even if the league had a count­back process in place, the play­ers could not be sep­a­rated.

The pre­sen­ta­tion din­ner in Hor­sham Holy Trin­ity Lutheran Col­lege hall was a cel­e­bra­tion of Wim­mera Foot­ball League and Wim­mera Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

An A Grade net­ball count for the Hatcher Medal marked the start of ma­jor cel­e­bra­tions when Hor­sham shooter Emma Buwalda, 18, clinched the award with 27 votes. The gifted teenager, daugh­ter of for­mer Hor­sham and Hor­sham Saints foot­baller Chris and wife Mary, won from Hor­sham Saints cen­tre Ash­lee Grace, 23, and War­rack Ea­gles duo Me­gan Werner and Emma Kos­chitzke, 20.

An ex­cited and shak­ing Buwalda said af­ter the count she did not ex­pect to win the medal de­spite a strong year un­der the ring.

“There are so many amaz­ing girls in our team and in the league,” she said.

“I can’t even process it at the mo­ment. It is a bit of a shock but also very ex­cit­ing.”

Buwalda, now try­ing to re­fo­cus on an A Grade grand fi­nal against Hor­sham Saints this week­end, said her par­ents were her great­est in­spi­ra­tion. She added that Hor­sham A Grade coach Pauline But­ler had been the ma­jor in­flu­ence on her net­ball.

“I don’t think I would have achieved any­thing in net­ball with­out her guid­ance,” she said.


Buwalda’s win was a pre­cur­sor to the drama that fol­lowed in the se­nior foot­ball count.

As of­fi­cials counted votes round by round, it quickly be­came ob­vi­ous the stars of Wim­mera league would fea­ture promi­nently.

Hor­sham coach Deek Roberts, who missed much of the sec­ond half of the sea­son with in­jury, polled heav­ily early, along­side Ararat’s Men­des, Hor­sham Saints coach Luke Fisher and Stawell tal­ent Naish Mcroberts.

Af­ter 13 rounds, Men­des held a four­vote lead on the then in­el­i­gi­ble Roberts with Peters and Kemp eight and nine votes off the pace re­spec­tively.

But Kemp and Peters pow­ered home with votes in the fi­nal rounds and caught Men­des at the death­knock.

It was the first league medal that 30-year-old Men­des, who orig­i­nally played with Ver­mont be­fore shift­ing to Ararat, had won.

While con­firm­ing his re­turn to Ararat next year, he de­scribed the win as the high­light of his ca­reer.

Qui­etly spo­ken Kemp, 21, also rated his medal, along­side a pre­mier­ship with Hor­sham last year, as his great­est foot­ball achieve­ment.

“I didn’t re­ally know how I would go and it was pretty tight. It was good to fin­ish strongly,” he said.

Kemp also won the league’s goal­kick­ing award with 71 goals.

War­rack Ea­gles’ home-grown Nick Peters, who lives in Bal­larat and played a prom­i­nent and match-win­ning role with the team this year, was ab­sent from the count.

Ea­gles pres­i­dent Adrian Bibby ac­cepted the medal on Peters’ be­half. Mcroberts won an un­der-21 award.

Award pre­sen­ta­tions at­tracted con­sis­tent au­di­ence plau­dits with Hor­sham Saints’ Gavin Kelm, 42, join­ing league leg­ends Peter Mor­ri­son and Terry Davis as the only play­ers to win se­nior Toohey and re­serves Hank Neil medals. Kelm was a run­away Hank Neil medal­list, win­ning the award 20 years af­ter his Toohey Medal suc­cess.

Kelm’s cousin Sherri Hicks, also Hor­sham Saints, won a net­ball C Grade best and fairest award.

Wim­mera net­ball life-mem­ber­ships to Co­lene Matthews of Stawell and Jane Robin­son, Hor­sham, and a vol­un­teer award to Ver­netta Tay­lor, Hor­sham Saints, at­tracted stand­ing ova­tions.

Stawell’s Court­ney Mcil­vride won a B Grade net­ball count with 22 votes from Eadie Garth-lind­say, Minyip­mur­toa 21, Rob Bell of Nhill was Aus­kick Coach of the Year and Hor­sham Foot­ball Net­ball Club was club cham­pion. Other awards: Cham­pion foot­baller, Nick Peters; op­po­si­tion star player, Nick Peters, Tom Tau­rau, Stawell; re­serves goal-kick­ing, Michael Saun­ders, South­ern Mallee Gi­ants; rising star, Jordan De­lahunty, Minyip­mur­toa.

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