THE fairest and best in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior football and A-grade netball for the ’22 season will be declared this Sunday night.
Counting of votes for the Betty Thompson Medal, A-grade netball, will start at 6pm at Bendigo Club in Park Street, Strathdale and be followed by the calling of vote cards for the Michelsen Medal, senior football.
The winner/s of the Michelsen Medal, football, and Betty Thompson, netball, will join many BFNL greats.
The Michelsen honour board includes Golden Square legends Greg Williams and Tony Southcombe; Sandhurst’s Brendan Hartney and Brian Walsh; Eaglehawk’s Des English; and South Bendigo’s Colin Rice.
In recent years it’s been on-ballers and midfielders who have caught the umpires’ attention and racked up plenty of votes.
Among the leading contenders for this year’s Michelsen Medal are Gisborne rover Flynn Lakey, Eaglehawk’s Billy Evans and Noah Wheeler, and Strathfieldsaye team-mates Callum McCarty and Jake Moorhead.
In a season where he kicked 92 goals in the home-and-away series, Golden Square star Joel Brett could also be a hot contender.
History is against the Bulldogs’ star being the winner.
Most recent of key forwards to claim the Michelsen Medal was Strathfieldsaye’s Lachlan Sharp in 2017, which was 11 years after Eaglehawk centre half-forward Kain Robins.
Sharp and Robins are still playing.
A brilliant full-forward, Sharp is captain of Strathfieldsaye Storm which has won its way to another grand final.
Robins will be on-field at Maiden Gully on Saturday as Marong chases a long-awaited Loddon Valley FNL senior premiership victory.
Three other previous Michelsen Medal winners had great seasons.
Jack Geary, 2018 winner, and Scott Walsh, 2012, won plenty of the footy for Golden Square and Gisborne respectively.
A gun captain and on-baller or at half-back, Geary will lead Golden Square onto Queen Elizabeth Oval for Saturday’s preliminary final showdown with Gisborne.
Although he played just eight games in the regular season, Gisborne’s Brad Bernacki made a flying start to the Bulldogs campaign.
Bernacki’s form earned a call-up to the VFL where he played 11 matches for Essendon.
A first-year player at Sandhurst, ruckman Hamish Hosking impressed with his work at centre ball-ups and stoppages.
Dragons’ on-baller and captain Lee Coghlan earned the medal in 2009 and had another great campaign for Sandhurst.
A proven vote-winner as a midfielder or on-baller, Kyneton’s Rhys Magin starred in a switch to a more permanent role in attack and kicked 66 goals for the yellow and black.
Other stars for the Tigers included Hamish Yunghanns and Harrison Huntley.
The fourth-placed South Bendigo had many contributors in its run to a long-awaited finals campaign.
Among the most consistent for the Bloods were Brock Harvey, Michael Herlihy and coach Nathan Horbury.
Given their teams had win-loss records of 2-16 and 0-18, Castlemaine’s Tommy Horne and Maryborough’s Aidan Hare are unlikely to gain the maximum three votes, but could rack up twos and ones.
Leading vote-getters for Kangaroo Flat could be ruckman Nick Lang and on-baller Mitch Collins.
There were many stand-out performers in the A-grade netball competition.
The league’s top three – Sandhurst, Kangaroo Flat and Gisborne – are likely to lead the race for votes.
Among the most consistent for the ladder-leading Kangaroo Flat were Ash Ryan, Chelsea Sartori, Abbey Ryan and Milly Wicks.
In pursuit of a record-setting fourth consecutive A-grade premiership, Sandhurst’s best in many game were Bec Smith, Ruby Turner and Meg Williams.
Gisborne’s run to a top-three finish was led by Claudia Mawson, Maddy Stewart and Kirby Elliott.
Castlemaine marked its return to A-grade by making its way to the first semi-final.
Stand-out players for the Magpies included Madeline Carter and Emma Webb which had playing coach Fiona Fowler team up with the coaching prowess of Gary Cooke.
Other netballers likely to feature in votes include South Bendigo’s Stephanie Goode and Chloe Gray, Maryborough’s Keely Hare and Christine James, and Kyneton’s Brooke Mangan.
Leading vote-winners for teams which finished in the bottom half of the ladder could be Grace Berryman for Eaglehawk, Strathfieldsaye’s Ava Hamilton or Ella Henry, and Millie Donegan or Maddy Keighran for Golden Square.
The Betty Thompson Medal was first awarded in 1997.
Names on the honour board includes Sandhurst’s Kris Greene, Heather Oliver and Brianna Dalrymple-Monro; Kangaroo Flat’s Lauren Cowling, nee Bowles; Maryborough’s Alicia Cassidy, and Tiana Newman from Gisborne.