Sport

Coaches prove playing ability

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October 19, 2017

James Hazelman (pictured) took out the Vin Toohey Medal for the senior best and fairest with 124 votes, his coaching partner Tyrone Downie backing up last year’s award with second place, 10 votes back.

Barooga’s co-coaches have run first and second in the club’s best and fairest count after another season of finals for the consistent Hawks.

James Hazelman took out the Vin Toohey Medal for the senior best and fairest with 124 votes, his coaching partner Tyrone Downie backing up last year’s award with second place, 10 votes back.

It was a successful first year for the coaching tandem, the preliminary final the furthest the Hawks have been in their four-year streak of making the post-season.

And Downie was as big a part of that success as anyone, also recognised at the presentation night as the club’s leading goalkicker for the season after bagging 50 goals.

Big man Brodie A’Vard was awarded best in finals, while Tom McNeil was given the coach’s award.

Hazelman was pleased with the award, but with his side falling short of the grand final, he had bigger team success on his mind.

‘‘Obviously it’s nice to win it from an individual point of view but ultimately we’re after team success — I’d happily trade that in for a premiership,’’ he said.

‘‘It was a pretty close count with four or five blokes within 20-odd votes, so it shows we had a pretty even spread.’’

He looked back on the season with some sense of pride with the club’s progression, but mixed with frustration it ran out of legs when playing for a spot in the decider.

‘‘It’s disappointing we didn’t go one step further, it would have been nice to have a crack at Numurkah because we felt we were playing our best footy at the right time of the year,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s another step forward for us, it’s been a bit of a slow build for the last four or five years.

‘‘We have taken that step forward, and with a little improvement it would be nice to take it a step further.’’

Speaking of the future, Hazelman was thrilled co-coach Downie had re-committed to the club, with a vast majority of the playing group also sticking around for 2018.

‘‘At the end of the season there was him and two or three others weighing it up, and they decided as a group to all make the commitment together and have another crack,’’ he said.

‘‘Of our list, probably 95 per cent are sticking around, there’s one or two blokes still undecided but we’re hoping to sort that out by week’s end.’’

He said replacing key defender Shaun Robbins was a recruiting priority along with another top on-baller.

In other awards, Chris Keys took home the reserves’ best and fairest by a fair margin, Ben McNeil finishing second some 39 votes back.

And in the under-17s, talented youngster Riley Gow took out the best and fairest by a single vote from Tomas Santoro.

Gow, having played many games in seniors as the under-17 sub, had caught the eye of coach Hazelman.

‘‘He’s definitely got a lot of ability, he’s a really good sportsman with both footy and cricket,’’ he said.

‘‘With pre-season, we’ll see what happens, he’s only a 16-year-old and whichever way he ends up committing, his talent is pretty big.

‘‘If he does fully commit to footy and the pre-season, the sky is the limit for him.’’

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