RYLEY HALL WINS THE 2012 POWER BEST AND FAIREST
The Gippsland Power presentation night is always a bittersweet affair. An enjoyable evening to celebrate the achievements of the season, it’s also a sad farewell to the graduating senior players. Given that most of these players have been involved with the program since under 15’s, the Power support staff have not only nurtured their football ability, but watched them mature into fine young men over that time. After spending so much time together travelling, training and playing, saying goodbye is never easy. Presentation night is the final chapter for these players in their Power football career, but the future is bright as they now move on to senior football.
Both Peter Francis and Nick Stevens reinforced what an amazing year of achievements the 2012 season had been for the club. The boys were just one second and a golden point away from a premiership, but it was the hard work and application that the playing group had shown all year from day one of preseason that Francis and Stevens were most proud of.
With such a strong season from the club where the emphasis was on team first, finding an individual best and fairest winner was always going to be a tough ask. As the voting progressed through the rounds the leader board was only separated by one or two votes, a number of players were in the mix. For the Power best and fairest the highest amount of votes awarded per game is 5, this is a rare occasion when a player’s performance has been exceptional. Both Nicholas Graham and Tim Membrey scored 5 vote games, a reflection of their outstanding performance throughout 2012.
As the counting wound down to the finals series tension filled the room, the award was anyone’s for the taking. The player that eventually won the best and fairest on 63 votes was the rock of the Power backline, the rarely beaten boy from Orbost, Ryley Hall. As a defender Ryley was given the task of shutting down opposition key forwards week after week. Not only did he beat his man, he was then damaging with his own run and the play he generated from the backline. Averaging just 1 goal per game kicked on him as a defender was an amazing statistic, given the quality of opponents he manned up on. Last year Ryley took out the best first year player award, his progression this year now sees him in contention for the AFL draft. Where ever his football journey takes him, Ryley will certainly be that player to “have a go”, his competitiveness and will to win driving him to succeed.
Runner up Shannen Lange was just one vote behind on 62 votes. The hard as nails midfielder had a consistent season, his work ethic setting the example for his fellow midfielders. Matt Northe finished in third place on 60, bottom age player Aaron Heppell was fourth on 59, with another bottom ager Lachy Channing and Jack Johnstone in equal fifth on 58 votes.
It takes an army of volunteers and contributors to get the 22 players on the field each week, and the great work of those behind the scenes at the club were acknowledged on the night. In many of the speeches the theme of Gippsland Power Football Club being like a family came up, the strong bond between all involved is a credit to the quality of people at the club. One of these great contributors, Darren Fox was awarded the Club Person of the Year, a trainer for 7 years at the club; he was honoured to be acknowledged for his work.
Other award winners on the night included:
Most Improved Player: Nicholas Graham
Coaches Award: Darcy Irwin
Leading Goal Kicker: Tim Membrey
Laurie Plunkett Best First Year Player: Lachy Channing
Most Disciplined Player: Jack Johnstone
Trainers and Support Staff Award: Ryley Hall
Casey Scorpions Most Professional Player Award: Josh Cashman
Best Player in the Finals: Tim Membrey
Season 2012 now completed, the focus for the club now moves to the season ahead. Coach Nick Stevens is on board again and excited by the prospects of working with a new group of talented players. The club is thankful for the wonderful support that it receives from the Gippsland community and will continue to do the region proud in 2013.