WARRACKNABEAL Hockey Club’s Casey Phelan is the newest life member of the Wimmera Hockey Association.
Phelan was inducted as the association’s 13th life member at its night of nights on September 21.
Phelan is a past member of the WHA executive and has fulfilled roles including statistician and awards organiser.
She enjoyed a long playing career with Warrack Women, primarily during the 1990s as a goalie. She was also a member of several premiership sides.
Association historian Rachel Clark said Phelan was thrilled with her induction.
“Not recently an active member, Casey was surprised by the award having been told she was invited to ‘present’ another award,” she said.
Clark said vote counts were exciting with the majority coming down to the last round.
Dimboola men’s experienced and tactical anchor Tim Jorgensen won the open best and fairest ahead of Kaniva Cobras’ Braden Clark.
“Jorgensen is no stranger to winning the top award, this being his third win,” Clark said.
“His previous win was 2009. He has also been runner-up, including his third effort as joint runner-up in 2011. ”
Yanac’s Erin Blackwood collected the women’s best and fairest award with 67 votes.
“She won by a small margin ahead of past winner Elizabeth Klinge of Dimboola. Both players were head and shoulders above the rest of the pack,” Clark said.
“The next closest was 30 points behind, speaking volumes about their importance in each of their sides.”
Yanac Warriors’ Todd Alexander was junior boys’ best and fairest ahead of Warrack Revengers’ Royce Bennett. Only a few votes separated the top three.
“It’s the first time for both boys in the top two,” Clark said.
Lucy O’Connor of Horsham Bombers was crowned junior girls’ best and fairest for the first time, winning ahead of Yanac Warriors’ Louise Bone.
“Bone had won the junior girls’ award the previous two years, but O’Connor – who played in Junior State Championships this year – finished several votes ahead,” Clark said.
“O’Connor has played her last junior match and was an anchor for her team which finished in the lower order.”
Umpiring awards were presented for fair, committed and skilled umpires, with Dimboola’s Sally Klinge winning the WHA Golden Whistle award.
Vicki Smithyman, also of Dimboola, was presented with the silver award.
“She umpired an impressive 23 matches this year which is the second most matches by one person this year behind Kaniva’s Clint Beattie on 27,” Clark said.
“Horsham’s Russell Marland was awarded the bronze award, making an impression in his first year with the WHA.”
An inaugural Umpires Encouragement Award went to Emma Janetzki of Nhill.
Clark said WHA encouragement awards were presented in recognition of members’ behind the scenes commitment.
They went to Yanac’s Kim Croot, senior male; Horsham’s Meryn Barnett and Claire Barnett, senior female; and Kaniva’s Lachlan Clark, junior male.
Top goal scorer awards went to Kaniva Raiders’ junior Lachlan Clark with 36 and Dimboola women’s Michelle Searle on 16.
Cobras’ Mathew McDonald and Warrack Hoops’ Marcus Williamson and Paul Slater were equal top in the open competition with 12 goals each.
The association’s grand finals saw Dimboola Women claim a premiership hat-trick, and open team Yanac Tigers and junior team Kaniva Raiders win back-to-back premierships.