MIDFIELDER Scott Walsh last night became the fourth Gisborne player to win the BFNL’s most prestigious individual award the Michelsen Medal.
Walsh polled 23 votes to defeat hot favourite Grant Weeks by five votes.
Gisborne has only been in the BFNL since 2000, but Walsh, 24, joins his coach Luke Saunders, Simon Elsum and dual-winner Matt Fitzgerald as the Bulldogs’ Michelsen Medal winners. Walsh was clearly stunned to win the medal.
“I thought Weeksy had it sewn-up, if you kick 148 goals in a year – it’s a fantastic season,’’ a modest Walsh said.
“I didn’t come here expecting anything tonight, to come out winning is just fantastic.”
Walsh only had eight votes on the board after the first 10 rounds, but exploded to the lead by polling 15 votes in the next seven rounds.
By the time votes had been called for the 17th round, Walsh couldn’t be beaten.
Weeks, who also finished runner-up in 2010, failed to poll a vote in round four, despite kicking 10 goals. His 12-goal and 11-goal hauls in rounds three and seven respectively only earned him the two votes on each card from the umpires.
His team-mate Aiden Pratt was awarded the three votes in each of those games even though he wasn’t named in his side’s best six players in the round three win.
However, there should be nothing taken away from Walsh’s win.
Walsh was dropped from Gisborne’s premiership side in 2006, but has fought his way back to be an elite midfielder.
“I knew he was a big chance tonight,’’ Gisborne coach Luke Saunders said.
“He’s worked so hard on his game. He had a big year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks records in our club voting this year.”
Walsh is a product of Gisborne’s junior program.
“I played all my juniors there, I started in under-11s and went all the way through the grades and I’m still here,’’ Walsh said.
“I think it’s just experience, I started seniors in 2006 and from there on the more games you get under your belt with the right blokes around you, and if you put in the hard yards, you soon reap the benefits.
“I just worked harder (during the pre-season), I knew I had to be a lot fitter to be right up there with the best, so I just put in a massive pre-season.
“So did everyone, that’s why we’re playing so well, because we had a massive pre-season. I did extra work as well, though, outside of footy. It’s a great coaching staff at Gisborne and we’re well-drilled.”
Walsh will now prepare for Saturday’s grand final against Golden Square.
“We think we can (win this weekend), even without Luke (Saunders) we’re such a strong team,’’ he said.
“We’re a tight-knit bunch, we’d do anything for each other. It would make us more confident if we had Luke out there, but he can’t. We’ve obviously got to stop Weeksy, but to do that we’ve got to stop their midfield.”
There was a three-way tie for third.
Pratt polled five best on grounds in his 16 votes and was joined by Strathfieldsaye’s Jake Hall and Gisborne’s Tom Waters.
South Bendigo’s Daniel Anderson was next best on 15 ahead of Golden Square’s Adam Baird on 13 and Gisborne’s Casey Summerfield on 12.
Meanwhile, it was a tie in the reserves best and fairest, with Golden Square’s Jamie Garner and Strathfieldsaye’s Dale Cameron sharing the Alan McDonald Medal with 13 votes each.
Strathfieldsaye’s Oliver Klemm announced himself as a star of the future by winning the George Symons Medal as the under-18s best and fairest footballer.
Klemm won the award with 24 votes, three ahead of Oliver Lang from Kangaroo Flat.
Golden Square’s Hamish Morcom won the CVGT rising star award.
Grant Weeks won the Ron Best Medal as the BFL’s leading goalkicker for his incredible haul of 148 majors this season, while South Bendigo’s Neville Clark was the leading reserves goalkicker with 57 goals and Square’s Brayden Knox was the under-18s best with 69 majors.
Square’s Clayton Anderson was awarded the Derrick Filo Medal for being best player in Bendigo’s inter-league win against Gippsland.
The David McCann Memorial award for the champion club was awarded to Sandhurst by David’s son Sean.