JUST like premierships, Mitiamo goal attack Laura Hicks says it's difficult to compare her LVFNL league best and fairest wins.
But given the stop-start nature and the eventual cancellation of the 2021 season, the Superoos star concedes this year's might well have been the hardest-won.
Hicks was crowned A-grade netball's Helen Ward medallist for the fourth time on Monday night.
She previously won the award in 2009, 2012 and 2016.
In a league medal count dominated by goalers, Hicks polled in nine of her side's 11 matches for a total of 20 votes and a ratio of 1.82.
Maiden Gully YCW goal shooter Tia Webb finished runner-up with 16 votes and a ratio of 1.60, ahead of Bridgewater's Claudia Collins (13, 1.18).
Pyramid Hill's two-time premiership defender Abbey Dingwall (10, 1.0) and Calivil United goaler Tia Steen (9, 0.9) rounded out the top five.
Hicks, who listened to the medal count while preparing dinner and putting her and husband Adrian's children to bed, said she was genuinely shocked to have come out on top.
"I didn't know what to expect from this season really, who did?" she said.
"It was a hard year. Early on we had a block of consistent games, but once we got to that May area, the inconsistency really kicked in.
"It was hard. We were trying to manage injured players. At one point Lucy Morcom had only played one game and we weren't sure how many more games we were going to get in.
"Trying to manage players to have them all available at the end of the year when we didn't know when the end of the year would come was very difficult.
"There were a lot of unsure moments. But I guess it was still a good season for us, despite the weeks off.
"It is hard to compare other years, but this year was definitely challenging."
Hicks, who picked up full votes in five matches, including three times in the final four rounds to seal the win, would have loved nothing better than the chance to play finals in 2021.
The Superoos had set themselves up nicely with a shot at defending their 2019 premiership title by claiming the minor premiership with an 11-1 record.
Hicks said it was difficult to predict what might have unfolded during the finals series given some teams had not played each other twice during the year, some had only played each other once early in the season, while no netball at all was played after August 14.
"(Maiden Gully YCW) finished second (at 10-1), but we only played them once and very early on in the season, so coming into finals - when they were still on - we hadn't seen them since round six," she said.
"So, you weren't really sure how other teams were going.
"We were confident coming in - we'd had that one loss to Calivil - but we'd worked on a few things since that and we were ready for finals and hitting our peak.
"But who knows what might have happened."
Hicks, who has knocked back many attempts to lure her to the BFNL since debuting in A-grade at Mitiamo in 2008, has never regretted staying loyal to the Superoos.
"I thought about it early on, should I go somewhere and give it a crack," she said.
"But what's probably kept me here was Gabe (Marlow), Sarah (Ludeman) and I all played juniors together and we won a couple of premierships in juniors, and then we went to A-grade and we lost a few. So, we were waiting to win that (A-grade) premiership together at Mitiamo.
"It took a while (2012), but then we wanted to win another one.
"Gabe sadly got injured at the start of that 2012 season, so I had to wait until 2019 to win a premiership with her.
"I held off leaving to win that first premiership, but as each year went by, I knew I was staying."
Hicks insisted her medal win was recognition for the hard work of team-mates further up the court.
"Listening to the count, I heard Amelia (Ludeman) and Gabe's names being called out a lot and they're the two players in front of me on the court," she said.
"I'm just hanging back waiting for the ball.
"It definitely helps to be part of a great team."
Hicks believed the dominance of goalers in this year's medal count reflected a higher-scoring competition in 2021.
Mitiamo, Maiden YCW and Calivil United all averaged over 50-goals per game, while Bridgewater(48.8) also came close to the mark.
- Laura Hicks (Miti) 20, 1.82
- Tia Webb (MG) 16, 1.60
- Claudia Collins (B) 13, 1.18
- Abbey Dingwall (PH) 10, 1.0
- Tia Steen (CU) 9, 0.90
- Tracey O'Donnell (Mar) 9, 0.90
- Zoe Kennedy (PH) 9, 0.90
- Christie Rogers (CU) 8, 0.80
- Leisa Barry (MG) 8, 0.80
- Amelia Ludeman (Mit) 8, 0.73
- Gabe Marlow (Mit) 8, 0.73
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