BENDIGO Bank Bombers captain Nick Carter has been crowned his side's inaugural club champion.
Carter dominated last night's count at the Kangaroo Flat sports centre to poll 92 votes, capping a stellar 2003 season which included three best-on-ground performances.
The 25-year-old's nearest rival was Essendon-listed midfielders Cory McGrath and Ken Hall, who tied for second with 68 votes.
Third was dangerous small forward Shane Harvey on 59 votes.
A maximum of 45 votes were allocated for each match, with three cards of 15.
After failing to register a vote in the opening four rounds, which included a two-match suspension for striking, Carter came thundering home to poll in 13 of the Bombers remaining 14 games.
He grabbed the lead in round 13 and was never headed to win by a massive 24 votes.
Bombers coach Peter Banfield was full of praise for his courageous skipper last night, saying Carter's fearless attack on the ball was one of the major reasons behind Bendigo's mid-season revival.
"Nick had a very slow start to the season, but once he got up and going his football was enormous," Banfield said.
"He's hardness was instrumental in us winning six games straight, and the example he set for the rest of the team was fantastic." Banfield said a true measure of Carter's form this season was his ability to win the respect of the Essendon hierarchy.
"By the end of the season, (Essendon coach) Kevin Sheedy was commenting about how good a leader Nick was," Banfield said.
"Compliments don't come much bigger than that." The win was Carter's third club champion award in the past four years.
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