The predicted two-horse race for the Werribee Tigers’ best-and-fairest left supporters on the edge of their seats right through to the final round of counting.
A familiar face ended up walking away with the Bruce Montgomery Trophy, with onballer Matt Hanson taking out the top honour for a record-equalling third consecutive season.
Hanson was made to sweat as star defender Ryley Barrack pushed him all the way.
Hanson got the votes he needed in the final round to finish with 34, two better than second-year player Barrack.
“I’m just really honoured to win this award,” Hanson said.
“I’m really looking forward to next year with the new facilities. It’s a great club to be a part of.”
Whether he is back at Werribee next season is in the hands of the AFL recruiters.
Hanson, only the second player after Travis Robertson to collect three straight Bruce Montgomery Trophies, will again be in the conversation when the AFL national and rookie drafts arrive later this year.
The 22-year-old from South Launceston has done everything in his powers to improve his game since arriving at Werribee.
Werribee coach John Lamont said Hanson’s year had been outstanding.
“The great thing coaching Matt is that he has improved his footy each year,” Lamont said.
“That’s been a terrific thing – that he hasn’t sat on his laurels.
“He’s professional, as the players can attest, in the way he goes about it. He’s in the VFL team of the year again.
“When I look at those great wins under pressure, Matt Hanson really stood up.”
Werribee is looking forward to a new era as a stand-alone side next season.
The Tigers will move back into Avalon Airport Oval, where they will be able to take advantage of new facilities after a multi-million dollar redevelopment.
Tigers captain Michael Sodomaco rallied the players to put the hard yards in and strive for immediate success.
“It’s not going to be a year where we’re setting up the foundations for success,” he said. “I think we can be successful next year.
“The last three premiership teams – Port Melbourne, Footscray and Williamstown – we’ve beaten all of them during the season, so we’re not that far away.
“If we apply ourselves and we all bring the right attitude and work together towards it, I think we can go a fair way next season.”
Werribee president Martin Carter announced his club would field a women’s team by the 2019 season.
The Tigers have been given the green light after working with the AFL and AFL Victoria to put in the ground work.
“We’re planning, and the VFL are right behind what we’re doing, to have our own team in 2019,” Carter said.
“One thing is for sure – with the AFL and AFL Victoria, they’ll continue to devote time, money and resources to women’s football, community and, last but not least, facilities to be able to house the best teams on the best grounds.”Reported dd