BENDIGO Pioneers captain Oliver Wines and the versatile Jake Stringer capped outstanding football seasons by being selected in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.
Wines was chosen in the centre, with Stringer, who starred across half-forward, onball or as a key defender, on interchange.
The Pioneers clubmates kicked off the year with an overseason tour with the AIS-AFL Academy and represented Victoria Country in the under-18 national championships campaign.
The Echuca-based Wines polled 11 votes to be equal fifth in the Morrish Medal for the competition’s best and fairest player.
A dramatic vote count ended with Gippsland Power’s Nick Graham victorious on 17 points from North Ballarat Rebels’ Nick Rippon, 16.
Another of the Rebels’ young guns, Jake Lloyd scored 27 votes to win the TAC Cup coaches award.
A highlight in Stringer’s year was being among Bendigo Gold’s best in the VFL elimination final against Williamstown.
Stringer missed all of the 2011 season after breaking his leg in round one.
The Bendigo Pioneers have had 23 players earn TAC Cup Team of the Year honours.
Pioneers graduates to have been selected among the league’s best include Joel and Troy Selwood, Dustin Martin, Brent Guerra, Colin Sylvia, Andrew Walker, Dean Solomon, Mark Alvey, Jarryn and Kallen Geary, Daniel Harris, Luke Livingston, Daniel Connors, Daniel Elstone, Ruory Kirkby and Nathan Brown.
A dual Team of the Year representative was full-forward and now VCFL chief executive officer Steven Reaper, who kicked on to be a star for Kyneton and Gisborne.
Others to have earned the award and racking up many kicks this season were Bendigo Gold gun recruit and 2008 Hawthorn premiership player Rick Ladson, plus Kyneton’s Michael O’Brien, and South Bendigo’s Aaron Connaughton.
A previous captain at the Pioneers and Team of the Year award winner, Grant Ford will play a key role for Newbridge in Saturday’s grand final clash with Bridgewater.
Mark Ellis was TAC Cup coach of the year in the 2008 season.
The TAC Cup Team of the Year for 2012:
B: Nick Rippon (North Ballarat), Tom Clurey (Murray), Luke McDonald (Oakleigh).
Hb: Nick Vlastuin (Northern), Kristian Jaksch (Oakleigh), Nathan Wright (Dandenong).
C: Jonathan O’Rourke (Calder), Oliver Wines (Bendigo), Thomas Gribble (Geelong).
Hf: Lachlan Whitfield (Dandenong), Thomas Boyd (Eastern), Nick Graham (Gippsland).
F: Lachlan Hunter (Western), Joe Daniher (Calder), Tim Membrey (Gippsland).
Foll: Sam Gilmore (Northern), Matthew Crouch (North Ballarat), Nathan Hrovat (Northern).
Inter: Jake Stringer (Bendigo), Jake Lloyd (North Ballarat), Taylor Garner (Dandenong), Ryan Exon (Oakleigh), Michael Barnes (Sandringham), Rory Aitkins (Calder).
Coach: Martin Allison (Calder).