DIMBOOLA big man Justin Chilver conceded he was stunned following his Toohey Medal triumph on Monday night.
The 26-year-old, in his first senior season of Wimmera Football League after moving from Mallee side Jeparit-Rainbow during the off-season, said he never imagined finishing the night with the best and fairest medallion hanging around his neck.
“I didn’t have a speech prepared, I didn’t expect anything like this to happen,” he said.
“I thought Ash Clugston was a shoo-in, with Nick Pekin and Peter Weir also having really good seasons.”
Chilver said he was loving his first season of Wimmera league and hoped to cap it off on Saturday with a premiership in the green and gold.
“I’m really enjoying my footy at Dimboola – we’re having a great year so hopefully we can finish it off and hold that cup aloft,” he said.
“I’d swap this medal for a premiership any day of the week.”
Chilver’s 21-vote haul was too good for his nearest rivals, Nhill’s Simon Brearley, 18 votes, and Horsham co-coach Jordyn Burke, 17.
Minyip-Murtoa’s John Delahunty, 16 votes, was also well in contention before missing rounds 15 and 16 through injury.
Pre-count fancies Clugston, Pekin and Weir finished equal-fifth on 14 votes apiece.
Horsham Saints veteran Gavin Kelm topped the seniors goal-kicking with 73 majors in the home and away season.
Roos midfielder Ryan Bell was the best-ranked under-21 player with 12 votes, while Saint Darcy Tucker won the rising star award.
Tucker, who will miss Saturday’s decider against Dimboola with a thumb injury, said his year had exceeded expectations.
“Back in pre-season I working hard to try and get a senior game and I ended up making my debut straight up, which was very good,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to stay in the side for the first five weeks before I set off for Vic Country commitments, so I’ve been rapt with how I’ve gone this season.”
Horsham RSL Diggers utility Damian Cameron won the Best Opposition Player award and the Wimmera Mail-Times, Harvey World Travel Champion Footballer award.