IT COULD hardly have been any closer as the Wimmera Football League and Wimmera Netball Association’s best players were recognised on Monday night.
Billy Hayes defied being labelled as the dark horse to win the Toohey Medal in the final round while it was a similar close win for Emma Koschitzke in the Hatcher Medal count.
Hayes is the first Nhill player to win the Toohey Medal in 20 years, and is also the first winner to come from a team outside of finals since 2010.
He said being told he was a Toohey Medallist had a nice ring to it.
“I’d just like to thank the Nhill footy club firstly, especially the sponsors and supporters because without them I wouldn’t be at the club,” he said.
“A special thanks to Russell Borgelt, John McLeod and Brett (Wheaton) for organising trips down and places to stay at the footy club. Alan (Bennett) for coaching, he’s done a great job over the past couple of seasons.
“Also to Liam (Albrecht) and the playing group because they’re a great bunch of lads, it’s just unfortunate we couldn’t get some more wins.”
He also reserved a special mention for his Bordertown-based parents who made things easier for him as he travelled from Adelaide each week to play.
“They drove me to most games and hung around at the club, they’ve been incredibly supportive,” Hayes said.
“And to John Batson for helping getting my body right every week because I’ve played pretty much each round with injury.”
Koschitzke is the second Warrack Eagles player to win the top A Grade honour in four seasons. She said she was overwhelmed after winning by one vote from Dimboola’s Jodie Hayes.
“I don’t really know what to say because I definitely wasn’t expecting this,” she said. “It’s been a great competition this year.
“Obviously I’d like to thank the Warrack Eagles. It’s such a great club.
“The culture we are building up there at the moment is just getting better and better; I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the years to come.
“Sarah Spicer and Jane Richardson did a great job coaching once again, it’s been such a fun year.”