THERE’S no doubting the bravery of Horsham Saints utility Phil Butsch.
Not only did Butsch return to the football field after a serious illness, he played his best season to win the Wimmera Football League’s highest honour – the Toohey Medal.
The Saints hard-nut played his first game of the season in round five – much earlier than
expected – with the help of some protective headwear bought by his sister.
Butsch went on to play 15 games for the Saints and was named in their best 12 times.
“I nearly ruled footy out this year – I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to be able to
play or not,” he said.
“To come back and play, and then to receive all these votes, is a little overwhelming.”
It was a fairytale finish to Butsch’s 2012 season, polling maximum votes in his final three matches to beat Warrack Eagles playing-coach and reigning Toohey Medallist Steve Schultz by one vote.
“Steve is one of the best players I’ve played against,” Butsch said.
He believed the helmet played a big part in his Toohey Medal win.
“I think it all comes back to the helmet; it certainly makes me stand out a bit,” he said.
“I’ll have to thank my sister on that one.”
Butsch will not get the chance to defend his Toohey Medal after being ruled out for the 2013 season with illness.