DEFENDER Michael Searl has made a strong impact in his return to the Victorian Football League.
The North Ballarat Roosters’ premiership player was named in the VFL’s team of the year after a two year hiatus overseas.
Searl, named in the back pocket, was one of three Selkirk Roosters to receive team of the year honours last night at the JJ Liston Trophy vote count.
Midfielder Myles Sewell and wingman Dean Towers were named on the interchange.
This if the fourth time Sewell, the 2009 Liston medallist, has been has made the decorated line-up.
Searl and Towers received the accolade for the first time each.
Towers, a second year player, also made history as the Roosters’ first Fothergill-Round medallist as the league’s best young player. Reigning premier Port Melbourne confirmed its dominance with six players named in the starting line-up.
But the night belonged to Werribee midfielder Ben Ross who was named the VFL’s JJ Liston medallist, one year after he was delisted by North Melbourne.
Ross, aged 23, said playing with the Tigers allowed him a chance to get back to enjoying his footy again without the pressures of AFL.
The Tigers, like the Roosters, share a partial alignment with North Melbourne and Ross said it was his time with the Tigers while on an AFL list that enticed him to join the ranks at Chirnside Park.
Ross said Western Bulldogs champion Scott West, who joined the Tigers as coach this year, had been pivotal in revamping and adding bite to his game.
In a thrilling vote count, Ross won on 20 votes – one from Melbourne-listed Casey Scorpion Tom Couch and two from Port Melbourne captain John Baird.
Ross and Baird were locked on 14 votes apiece at the half-way mark of the count.
Ross polled his fifth best on ground and deciding votes in Werribee’s 82-point thrashing of the Roosters in round 20.
VFL TEAM OF THE YEAR
B: MICHAEL SEARL (North Ballarat), Kris Pendlebury (Collingwood), Evan Panozza (Casey Scorpions)
HB: Brett Goodes (Williamstown), Sam Pleming (Port Melbourne), Leigh Osborne (Frankston)
C: Adam Marcon (Northern Blues), Shane Valenti (Port Melbourne), Ben Ross (Werribee)
HF: Kyle Martin (Frankston), Khan Haretuku (Frankston), Sam Dwyer (Port Melbourne)
F: Matthew Little (Bendigo), Dean Galea (Port Melbourne), Chris Cain (Port Melbourne)
FOL: Nick Meese (Northern Blues), John Baird (Port Melbourne), Ben Jolley (Williamstown)
INTER: MYLES SEWELL (North Ballarat), Troy Selwood (Geelong), Luke Tynan (Casey Scorpions), Myke Cook (Sandringham), Lachlan Delahunty (Frankston), DEAN TOWERS (North Ballarat).
COACH: Brett Lovett (Casey Scorpions)