Michelle Barkla wins Bendigo Thunder best-and-fairest

FIRST-YEAR player Michelle Barkla has capped an outstanding season by winning the Bendigo Thunder’s best-and-fairest.

The key defender received the award on Friday night, with star midfielder Jess Kile finishing runner-up.

Two-time premiership coach Russell Jeffrey said he knew Barkla was a star in the making when she arrived for pre-season training.

“We knew in pre-season that Michelle was going to be something special, she is fit and an absolutely outstanding footballer,” Jeffrey said.

Barkla was among the Thunder’s best players in half of her 16 Victorian Women’s Football League games in 2013.

She was judged the Thunder’s second best player in the club’s 21-point north-west division one grand final victory over North Geelong at Coburg City Oval.

The former star junior player at Castlemaine only returned to football this season and her toughness on the football field won many admirers at the Thunder.

“I’ll never forget the message I received from Michelle towards the end of the season, saying that she had been to the doctor and she had a broken finger and that he gave her six weeks,” Jeffrey said.

“The message ended with her saying ‘I’ll see you at training on Wednesday night’.”

Kile, last season's best-and-fairest, was rewarded for another brilliant season with second place in the 2013 best-and-fairest.

Kile was named in the Thunder’s best players eight times from 15 matches.

The Thunder’s best-on-ground in the grand final, Abbey Hay, received the Best in Finals award.

Key position player Emma Grant was named Most Determined, while full-forward Alana Wearne won the goal-kicking award.

Sarah Baldwin took home the Coach’s Award, while Lily Campbell was the Best First-Year Player.

Thunder TV producer Richard Tatti was announced as the Thunder’s Best Club Person for his multi-media work.

“Richard Tatti is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met,” Thunder general manager Bianca Rinaldi said.

“He might be the man behind the camera, but he captures the heart and soul of the club, we are so grateful to have him in our team.”

The presentation night was capped with the premiere of ‘Victory’, a song written especially for the Thunder and performed by supporter Mary Tatana and produced by Richard Tatti.

Meanwhile, the Thunder's practice match against Premier Division club Berwick which was scheduled for Sunday, September 1 has been cancelled.

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