Joel Mahar's first full season back at Bungaree since 2014 has returned the Central Highlands Football League's highest individual honour.
Mahar was a one-vote winner of the Geoff Taylor Medal count at the Ballarat and District Trotting Club on Wednesday evening.
The Bungaree onballer was named best on ground in eight separate matches throughout 2018 and polled 28 votes, one more than Beaufort midfielder Tom Stapleton.
That pair had a gap on the rest of the competition, with Hepburn star Brad McKay third on 19 votes.
After captaining the Demons to a breakthrough premiership in 2014, Mahar left the club to travel. He played two matches in early 2017 before again leaving the region, but returned during the off-season with a commitment to the 2018 campaign.
In all, he featured in 16 matches and kicked 13 goals as the Demons ended the year in ninth spot on the ladder.
Mahar said it was nice to claim an individual accolade in what was a tough season for Bungaree.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Mahar said on Wednesday night.
“It’s not something you play footy for, but it’s a nice honour to have at the end of the year.”
Mahar's success makes it three-straight Bungaree winners of the Geoff Taylor Medal. Ruckman David Benson collected the award in 2016 and 2017, but was never a factor in 2018 given his injury-interrupted campaign.
It was also a memorable night for Daylesford veteran Rob Rodgers.
Rodgers, who played his 300th open age game for the Bulldogs in the last round of the season, took out the reserves best and fairest award.
He polled a total of 18 votes from 13 reserves appearances, which included four best on ground performances.
The three-time senior premiership player was a two-vote winner of the count from Creswick's Shane Burns. Past champion Adrian Beer, from Beaufort, and Smythesdale’s Anthony Taylor were equal third.
Rodgers’ long-time teammate Scott Winduss won the award in 2017. The big ruckman polled well again in 2018, finishing the year with 13 votes.
28-Joel Mahar (Bungaree)
27-Thomas Stapleton (Beaufort)
19-Bradley McKay (Hepburn)
17-Brenton Powell (Learmonth)
16-Rupert Sangster (Beaufort)
15-Myles Sewell (Newlyn), William Driscoll (Springbank)
14-Tye Murphy (Gordon), Daniel Rees (Hepburn)
13-Daniel Wehrung (Newlyn)
18-Robert Rodgers (Daylesford)
16-Shane Burns (Creswick)
15-Adrian Beer (Beaufort), Anthony Taylor (Smythesdale)
14-Rob Dyer (Dunnstown)
13-Brett Duffy (Dunnstown), Stuart Robinson (Newlyn), Scott Winduss (Daylesford), Tyler Dittloff (Buninyong), Daniel Westblade (Buninyong
PERKINS CHNL’S BEST
Narelle Perkins has claimed the Kaylene Trigg award in a nail-biting finish to the Central Highlands Netball League’s A-grade best and fairest vote count.
The Ballan player-coach took out netball’s top prize after polling 32 votes at the Ballarat and District Trotting Club on Wednesday night, just one vote clear of runner-up Buninyong talent Stephanie Strachan.
In her first season as coach, Perkins polled in 14 out of 17 rounds and was deemed best on court six times.
Perkins, who arrived at Ballan at the start of last season, was lost for words.
“I’m just so proud of my club,” she said. “It’s not about me at all. We’ve had such a successful year. I’m completely and utterly shocked.”
Eight votes came in the final three games as Ballan pushed to cement its position in finals. The Blues finished the season in seventh position on the A-grade ladder for the fourth time in five years before losing an elimination final to Waubra.
It was a bottleneck in the top five of the vote count, with Waubra captain Jane Douglass finishing in third with 29 votes, just two votes behind runner-up Strachan.
Meanwhile, there was more success for Ballan in the B grade netball vote count with Rebecca Conroy deemed the best and fairest after collecting 33 votes.
Conroy finished five votes ahead of runner-up Kristina Clohesy from Newlyn, who ended the night on 28 votes, while Buninyong’s Caitlin Hughes rounded out the top three on 26 votes.
“I’m proud to receive this award and still a little bit shocked… it means a lot to me,” Conroy said, who credited her consistency and maturity for her strong season.
Bungaree’s Molly Binks was recognised for her season in C grade competition, running away with the best and fairest on 36 votes.
Binks finished an impressive 12 votes ahead of joint runners-up Newlyn’s Jemma Del Papa, Hepburn’s Sally Otto and Hepburn’s Laiken Yanner on 24 votes.
“The last two years of seniors are the first two years that I’ve actually had a run on the court,” Binks said. “Coming from a bench warmer to this, I did not expect that.”
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