IT could have been easy last year to forget just how good a Bendigo Football League player Mark Lloyd is.
He coached Golden Square to its fourth-straight premiership, but it was a frustrating 2012 playing-wise for Lloyd.
He played just 11 of Golden Square’s 21 games as he was struck down with an ankle and hamstring injury.
However, any doubts that father time was creeping up on Lloyd and that his best was behind him have been quickly put to rest this year.
Lloyd has been back to his supreme best this year, with a brilliant season that has been capped by winning the Bendigo Advertiser’s Player of the Year Award.
Lloyd polled 30 votes to win the award, which was voted on 5-4-3-2-1 after each senior game by members of the Bendigo Advertiser sports department.
“I didn’t have much luck with the body last year in only playing 11 games,” Lloyd said yesterday.
“But this year was the first time since 2004 I’ve played every game of the home and away season.
“Playing every week, you’re able to get that continuity, which makes it easier.
“I’ve enjoyed the year more from that sense, and not having to worry about the coaching either has helped.”
Having coached Golden Square to last year’s premiership – the Bulldogs won a grand final classic against Gisborne by three points – Lloyd relinquished the reins this season, with Rick Ladson taking over.
Having spent most of his career with Golden Square playing on the wing and in the midfield, Lloyd has settled into more of a half-back role this season, where he has been able to set the Bulldogs up with his run and carry and precise ball-use.
“Rick indicated I was likely to spend more time during a game down back, and I’ve really enjoyed that,” Lloyd said.
“Playing with the other defenders, we’ve got a really good camaraderie and play as a team within a team.
“To pinch hit in the midfield is something I still enjoy as well, but to cruise around off the half-back line doesn’t take as much out of the legs as it does playing on a wing or mostly in the midfield like I have in the past.”
While Lloyd has played every game this season, that wasn’t looking likely when he was involved in one of the year’s most sickening clashes when he cracked heads with Strathfieldsaye’s Jayden Donaldson in round 11.
“If we had been playing the following week I definitely wouldn’t have played after what happened,” Lloyd said.
“I had to take the week off work and couldn’t drive for a week and it really knocked me about for a few days.
“It was just a clash of heads going for the ball, but that’s part of football.”
Lloyd polled votes in eight games to win the Addy Player of the Year Award.
The runners-up were Gisborne captain Casey Summerfield and Lloyd’s Golden Square team-mate Simon Rosa, who polled 26 votes each.
Lloyd joins Eaglehawk’s Shannon Milward (2008), Sandhurst’s Lee Coghlan (2009) and Golden Square’s Grant Weeks (2010, 2011 and 2012) as recent winners of the Player of the Year Award.
With the home and away season finished, Lloyd will now turn his attention to September, starting with Sunday’s qualifying final against Eaglehawk
“We’ve been really pleased with our past month and are settling the side down,” Lloyd said.
“All the boys can’t wait for Sunday to get into it.”