Ruckmen, on-ballers likely to lead Michelsen Medal race


DOMINANCE of ruckmen and on-ballers in the Michelsen Medal race is likely to continue in Sunday night’s presentation of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy fairest and best award.

The gala event, which includes the Betty Thompson Medal for A-grade netball starts at 6pm at Bendigo Club in Strathdale’s Park Street.

Winners of the lower grades of football and netball which were announced during last Monday night’s broadcast on Radio Fresh fm will also be presented with the medals, trophies.

One of the hot favourites for the Michelsen Medal is Sandhurst ruckman Hamish Hosking.

It’s not only Hosking’s work at centre ball-ups and stoppages which will have caught the umpires’ eye, but also his play around the ground.

Hosking played a crucial role in the Dragons’ run of 16 wins, a draw, one loss in the home-and-away series.

Others likely to poll well for the Dragons include James Coghlan and on-baller Sam Conforti who dominated in the second half of the season on his return from a VFL stint with Essendon.

First to qualify for the grand final and showdown for the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup, Golden Square has several contenders.

Among them are on-ballers Tom Toma and Ricky Monti.

Both have won plenty of the footy at stoppages and have racked up possessions in the Bulldogs’ unbeaten run.

In attack Joel Brett again passed the 80-goal mark.

The Dogs’ line-up is brilliantly led by Jack Geary who claimed the medal five years ago.

Another brilliant forward and previous Michelsen Medallist is Strathfieldsaye Storm co-captain Lachlan Sharp.

The Storm champion goes into Saturday’s preliminary final needing five goals to hit the century mark once again.

Other key players in Storm’s run have included Luke Webb from a half-back flank, and on-baller Callum McCarty.

A year ago it was Storm’s Jake Moorhead who joined the Michelsen Medal club.

At Eaglehawk there may be a spread of vote-getters.

Those who could poll well for the Two Blues include co-captain Billy Evans, ruckman Connor Dalgleish, Lewin Davis and Noah Wheeler.

South Bendigo ruckman Mac Cameron had an outstanding debut season in the BFNL, and centreman or ruck-rover Brody Haddow starred in his return to the Bloods.

There’s also talented forwards Brock Harvey and Steven Stroobants who have some big hauls of goals.

Gisborne’s star-studded on-ball brigade of ruckman Braidon Blake, Brad Bernacki and Flynn Lakey all played big roles, especially in a strong finish to the second half of the season.

For teams on the lower rungs of the ladder it may be tough to have gained a maximum three votes, but some could rack up twos and ones.

Among them could be Kyneton’s Cameron Manuel and Harrison Huntley, and Kangaroo Flat’s Mitch Trewhella and Liam Collins.

In a tough season for Castlemaine the play of John Watson and Matt Filo were highlights.

The Filo family has a proud history in the Michelsen Medal.

Derrick Filo was the ’91 medallist when at Castlemaine, and 24 years later his son Brodie was adjudged the league’s best when starring for Eaglehawk.

A winless run will make it tough for Maryborough, but key defender Kya Lanfranchi and centreman Joel Swatton were the Magpies’ most consistent.

The Michelsen Medal was first awarded in 1930.

A dramatic count ended in a five-way tie between Castlemaine’s Bill Callaghan, Rochester’s Len Major, Sandhurst’s Creswell Crisp and Norm Le Brun, and Bruce Jones of South Bendigo.

Since then many league legends have won the prestigious honour.

Among them are Golden Square’s Greg Williams, ’82 and ’83; Sandhurst’s Brian Walsh in ’69, and Brendan Hartney, ’87 and ’89; and Golden Square’s Tony Southcombe, ’72 and ’75.

The 1979 medallists were one of the league’s tallest, Golden Square ruckman Eric Pascoe, and the shortest in then Sandhurst rover Peter Tyack.

In 2020 the Bendigo FNL board awarded a Michelsen Medal posthumously to Gary Cowling of the South Bendigo Bloods who had been beaten on countback in the ’79 award.