Selwood creates history

FOR the first time since the award’s inception in 1965-66, a footballer has been crowned The Advertiser-WIN Television Sports Star of the Year.Joel Selwood - who has already carved out a remarkable AFL career with Geelong in just three years after growing up in Bendigo - was last night crowned the Sports Star of the Year at a gala ceremony at the Silks Function Centre at the Bendigo Jockey Club.Before last night, cyclists, netballers, cricketers, yachtsmen, rowers, water-skiers, shooters, boxers and basketballers had been among the 44 winners, but never a footballer, despite Bendigo having a rich history of producing Aussie Rules players who have gone on to star at VFL-AFL level.But that has now changed after 21-year-old Selwood was rewarded for his outstanding 2009 season at AFL powerhouse club Geelong.“It’s a shock to have won this having looked through the names of previous winners,” Selwood told The Advertiser yesterday.“It’s a huge achievement because there are a lot of great sports people who have come out of Bendigo, and continue to do so, so it’s nice to be recognised.“Usually, this award goes to someone who has represented Australia or done something really special in Bendigo, so to win it is a great achievement.”Selwood was unable to attend last night’s function as he was in Perth preparing for Geelong’s pre-season match against the West Coast Eagles this afternoon.The award was accepted on his behalf by his father, Bryce.The award was presented to Bryce by Victorian premier John Brumby, an avid Collingwood supporter who twice in the past three years has watched Selwood and the Cats defeat the Magpies in preliminary finals.Selwood’s 2009 accolades started in the pre-season when the fearless midfielder was awarded the Michael Tuck Medal for best on ground in Geelong’s NAB Cup grand final win over Collingwood.He played all 25 games for Geelong during the season, averaging 27.5 possessions per match and polling 16 Brownlow Medal votes, placing him equal sixth.His outstanding season was rewarded with selection on the wing in the All-Australian team, while he was recognised by his peers as the AFL’s most courageous player.But his ultimate reward came on the last Saturday in September when he was a member of the Geelong team that defeated St Kilda by 12 points in an epic grand final at the MCG.In a tough, physical encounter played in wet conditions, Selwood amassed 24 possessions, laid three tackles and kicked an inspiring goal in the first quarter to be among the Cats’ best players.In what was just his 70th AFL game, the grand final win was Selwood’s second flag, after he was also a member of Geelong’s drought-breaking premiership team against Port Adelaide in 2007 in his first year at the club.“2009 was a very testing year because as a club we had a lot of injuries and weren’t playing great footy all the way through,” said Selwood, who played his junior football in Bendigo with St Therese’s, Kennington-Sandhurst, Sandhurst and the Bendigo Pioneers, where he was drafted from by the Cats with pick No.7 in 2006.“There were a lot of stages throughout the year where if we wrote a book there would be a lot of chapters on what happened, but thankfully, it fell into place for us on that last Saturday in September. We were just lucky enough on grand final day to play good enough footy to run away with it.”Selwood was previously a finalist in the Sports Star of the Year award in 2006 after he captained the Australian under-17 International Rules team against Ireland and won the Ron Barassi Medal as the best player.By winning the Sports Star of the Year, Selwood beat a field that also included Lachlan Norris (mountain bike, road cycling), Brad Rawiller (gallops racing), Jaclyn Wilson-Thompson (BMX racing), Caitlin Thwaites (netball), Justin Whitehead (boxing), Lee Coghlan (football), Hannah Every-Hall (rowing) and Andrew Martin (golf).The award is supported by mecu credit union.